On September 13th 2013, the shocking news about the sudden death (September 6th) of our very dear and appreciated friend, colleague and honorary President of the European Association of Museums of the History of Medical Sciences, Prof. Dr. Dr. Christa Habrich, reached us. Heading for the next Conference in London this year it might be good to stand still for a moment at this untimely and most regrettable incident.
Being a member of the Association from the early hours, I met Christa the first time at the occasion of the second Conference of the Association, also in London, in 1984. Already at that occasion it was clear that Christa Habrich, having an enormous network and holding a PhD in pharmacy which she achieved with a thesis in the history of pharmacy, would take a prominent place in the then still new organization. It was only obvious that the next meeting in 1986 would take place in Museum of medical History of Ingolstadt, where she was the valued director. There, she also combined skill, leadership, knowledge, care and friendship for all participants. Obviously she made a very impressive exhibition on the history of ophthalmoscopes and related instruments.
It was actually no surprise that she took over the presidency of our Association from Brain Bracegirdle in 1990. During her “reign” Christa managed to guide the various members and their ideas through several problems and for 14 years. After that, during the meeting in Riga, she was honoured with a well-earned honorary presidency. Also at that occasion, she proclaimed in an outstanding speech the importance of good care of our medical historical heritage.
There is no medical historical subject that she did not know about or at least had an opinion on. She also very much stimulated to acquire more knowledge and skills, not only in the larger bi-annually conferences but also at the more modest workshops held in the alternate years. With the death of Christa Habrich, the international medical history world loses a prominent figure that it will have difficulty in replacing.
In my very first reaction on her unforeseen death I wrote to some colleagues: we will miss Christa very dearly, not only as an expert in medical historical items, but especially as a person who cared for all of us and for her a very good insight. I can only repeat that. May Christa rest in peace.
Willem J. Mulder, Former Curator Medical Collections, Utrecht University Museum.