The Als river (Alserbach, from the Celtic als for stream (Bach) and olsa for alder (Erle)), which is acknowledged in the name of Vienna’s 9th District, Alsergrund, is mentioned for the first time in documents. In the 19th Century, the area became increasingly boggy, with the result that the Alserbach was re-routed underground between 1840 and 1846 for reasons of hygiene.
The village of Siechenals (the German name is a play on the languid flow of the stream) was located on the banks of the Alserbach;
The diseases brought during the crusades led to a large number of people requiring medical aid, and they were moved to infirmaries (Siechenhäuser) in the surrounding towns (e.g. St. Johann an der Siechenals).
St. Lazar hospital was founded in the village of Siechenals to care for patients afflicted by leprosy.
The first clearly documented and court-ordered post-mortem examination took place in Bologna.
The University of Vienna was founded (Alma Mater Rudolphina Vindobonensis).
The Faculty of Medicine is a founding member of the Alma Mater Rudolphina Vindobonensis.
The first records of events at the Faculty of Medicine from May 1399, see university archive, Acta Facultatis Medicae Universitatis Vindobonensis
The Italian professor Galeazzo di Santa Sophie (died 1427) performed the first post-mortem examination for the purposes of teaching and demonstration at the Heiligen–Geist Spital. The hospital founded in the 13th Century was destroyed during the first siege of the Turks and was not rebuilt (today: Vienna University of Technology).
The post-mortem of Dr. Tulp – painting by Rembrandt
Dissection of a female corpse at the Faculty of Medicine
Hospital at Siechenals serves as a hospital for those afflicted by the Plague
Constitutio Criminalis Carolina, the painstaking procedure for the judgment of capital crimes (Halsgerichtsordnung) of Emperor Charles V came into force stipulated the involvement of physicians in the judicial process when assessing medical questions.
Paolo Zacchia (1584 - 1659): Quaestiones medico-legales (1621-1650): First systematic manual for forensic medicine.
Deaths in the city were registered by the Totenbeschreibeamt records of external examinations dating back to 1648 are still held at the City and Regional Archive of Vienna.
The Bäckerhäusel (close to today’s Boltzmanngasse / Währingerstraße) was also used as a place for sick people to convalesce.
The Kontumazhof (a hospital for diseases between today’s Währingerstraße and Van Swieten Gasse) was built and later became the military garrison hospital of the City of Vienna.
Johann Theobald Frankh dedicated his property in Alsergasse im Schaffernack (today Alserstrasse 4 in Vienna’s ninth district) to the construction of a hospital for soldiers.
The Home for the Poor and Invalid was built on Frankh’s land – completed in 1697 (today: first courtyard of the former general hospital).
The City of Vienna bought the land next to the Kontumazhof (a site for quarantined patients) and turned it into a cemetery.
An Anatomic Theatre was opened at the University of Vienna (today: Dr Ignaz-Seipl-Platz 2, 1010 Vienna - Academy of Sciences).
Giovanni Battista Morgagni published his seminal work "De sedibus et causis morborum per anatomen indagatis" (On the Seats and Causes of Diseases as Investigated by Anatomy) – this sentence was used by way of dedication on the gables of the Institute of Pathology.
31.12.1768: Archduchess Maria Theresia enacted the Constitutio Criminalis Theresiana, a uniform penal code for Austria and Bohemia.
30.03.1770: External examination of corpses became obligatory on the orders of Maria Theresia and only allowed to be carried out by physicians. The medical examiners needed to be certified by the Faculty of Medicine.
The Hauptsanitätsnormativ, a generally applicable healthcare law for countries under the monarchy, was introduced. The Sanitäts- und Kontumazordnung created uniformity across the healthcare system. The health and well-being of the people becomes a state affair.
Elements of forensic medicine were taught during lectures on surgery in order to familiarise students and physicians with external examinations of corpses.
The garrison hospital was built on the former land of the Kontumazhof to care for wounded soldiers.
Joseph II (1741 - 1790) opened the Vienna General Hospital on 16 August 1784 to care for and provide solace to sick people (“saluti et solatio aegrorum”) based on the Home for the Poor and Invalid (today, courtyard 1 to 7 of the former general hospital). A mortuary was built at the north-east end of the facility next to the straw warehouse (hence the German name Strohhof or Leichenhof; courtyard 10 of today’s former general hospital). Official post-mortems were transferred to the two youngest surgeons. Together with the city surgeon, they formed a commission in which the city surgeon performed the actual autopsy.
On 7 November 1785, the surgical academy was opened (today: Josephinum)
- Forensic medicine lectures were held as an ancillary subject by the professor for surgery and obstetrics for students training to become physicians at the aforementioned Josephine Academy
Johann Peter Frank (1745 – 1821), who had been holding lectures on forensic medicine and medical policing since 1785, was appointed a professor at the University of Vienna and also as director of the Vienna General Hospital.
21.07.1804: The first independent university chair was established for state pharmacology (Staatsarzneykunde) by Emperor Franz II (1768 - 1835).
The Prussian Criminal Code was enacted with rules governing forensic external examinations and the performance of post-mortem examinations: Explicit instructions that a post-mortem had to include the three cavities of the body (chest, abdomen and head), and that the lungs of newborns should be tested to ascertain if the child was dead or alive when it was born (part 2, chapter 2 sections 164 and 166).
24.02.1805: Dr. Ferdinand Bernhard Vietz was appointed Chair of Forensic Medicine (Head of the Institute 1805 - 1813).
- Holding of medical and legal lectures
- Forensic medicine became a subject in its own right at the medical and legal faculty
A regulation was enacted which stipulated the Professor for State Pharmacology should be ultimately responsible for forensic post-mortem examinations, which students could now also attend.
All post-mortems ordered by the courts and health authorities from the city and towns surrounding Vienna were carried out at Vienna General Hospital (AKH)
Josef Bernt (Head of the Institute 1813 - 1842)
- Certified by the authorities as Master Inspector (corresponds to today’s expert witness) in 1815
- Setting up of a learning facility for forensic medicine with an autopsy room
The Office of the Official Head Medical Examiner of the City of Vienna was associated with the Chair of State Pharmacology.
The prosector of pathology and anatomy was given responsibility for all post-mortems ordered by the health authorities and the courts à forensic medicine remains part of pathological anatomy until 1875.
The dissection chamber was extended, creating an anatomical theatre.
An extraordinary chair for pathological anatomy was established and filled by Lorenz Biermayer.
The University of Zurich was opened – official lectures in forensic medicine began.
The Practical Research Institute for State Pharmacology was founded in Berlin.
Jakob Kolletschka (Head of the Institute 1843 - 1862)
Pathological anatomy was established as a dedicated discipline – Rokitansky was the first Ordinary Professor of Pathological Anatomy in Vienna
Enactment by the Ministries of Internal Affairs and Justice: Provisions for performing forensic external examinations.
Chair for Forensic Medicine was established at the University of Bern – a dedicated institute was only established in 1927.
The Institute of Pathology and Anatomy (colloquially referred to as Indagandis Hof, in reference to the dedication “Indagandis sedibus et causis morborum” on the gables à “the research of the seats and causes of diseases) was built on the site of the former mortuary. The working areas were located in the north wing of the first floor, with a chemical laboratory and a museum. The forensic funeral chamber and a commission room were on the ground floor.
Johan Dlauhy (Head of the Institute 1862 - 1975)
Together with Carl Freiherr von Rokitansky, Dlauhy moved to the newly built single-floor Leichenhof building in 1862 (today: brain research centre of the Medical University of Vienna)
The Institute of Forensic Medicine was founded at the Karl Franzens University in Graz.
A consecration chapel was built on the edge of today’s courtyard 10 of the former general hospital
Following the example of Vienna, a chair for state pharmacology was established at the University of Innsbruck – the first holder of this chair was the future Director of the Vienna Institute, Eduard von Hoffmann.
Chair for hygiene was established upon the opening of a dedicated Institute of Hygiene in 1908 on Kinderspitalgasse.
Eduard Hofmann (Head of the Institute 1875 - 1897)
- Investigated the death of Crown Prince Rudolph on 30 January 1889
- Investigated the over 400 victims of the Ring theatre fire on 8 December 1881
•• First time identification was made using dental records
•• Smoke inhalation was the cause of death
•• Demonstrating that the presence of carbon monoxide (CO) is evidence that someone was burned alive
- First publication of Hofmann’s Textbook for Forensic Medicine (1878: For a long period of time this was the standard reference book for forensic medicine and was translated into French, Italian, Spanish and Russian)
- Removal of forensic medicine specimens from the pathology association collection and transferred to its own, independent collection.
- Forensic medicine and hygiene separated
- Post-mortems ordered by the court and health authorities were linked to the Director of the Institute for Forensic Medicine from 1875 à from this time on, forensic medicine was no longer part of pathological anatomy
Alexander Kolisko (Head of the Institute 1898 - 1916)
- The dagger which was used to murder the Empress Elisabeth in Geneva on 10 September 1898 was included in the forensic medicine collection
- Following the death of Hofmann, the pathological anatomist Alexander Kolisko was appointed to the chair. He concentrated primarily on the pathology of sudden death and left the criminological side of the field, working with the courts and holding lectures for lawyers, to his first assistant Albin Haberda. When the chair for pathological anatomy became vacant in 1916, Kolisko returned there, and Haberda was appointed to the chair for forensic medicine.
Institute of Forensic Medicine established in Munich.
Albin Haberda (Head of the Institute 1916 - 1935)
- The former military prosector building of the garrison hospital at Sensengasse 2 (its role as a military hospital was abandoned following the collapse of the Austro-Hungarian monarchy after the First World War) was converted to the Institute for Forensic Medicine in 1922, now the Department of Forensic Medicine (DGM)
Fritz Reuter (Head of the Institute 1935 - 1938: removed from office for political reasons)
- A chemistry lab for forensic medicine was set up
Anton Werkgartner (Interim Head of the Institute 1935)
Philip Schneider (Head of the Institute 1938 - 1945)
Forensic Medicine in Vienna under National Socialism
from the German-language book by Ingrid Arias
Anton Werkgartner (Acting Head of the Institute following the so-called Anschluss [annexation] of Austria to Germany)
Fritz Reuter (1945 vindicated: Head of the Institute 1945 - 1946)
Walter Schwarzacher (Head of the Institute 1946 - 1958)
Leopold Breitenecker (Head of the Institute 1958 - 1973)
- Renovation of the old section of the building – an additional floor was added to the side wings and a new laboratory building was created by extending the building along Sensengasse.
- The presence of carbon oxide in blood was proven
- The Department of Serology and the Department of Anthropology were established
- A place for the collection of forensic medicine specimens was finally created in the listed central part of the main building
Institute of Forensic Medicine was established in Salzburg.
Wilhelm Holczabek (Head of the Institute 1973 - 1989)
- Was deacon of Faculty of Medicine for three years, rector of the University of Vienna for four years and honorary senator of the University of Vienna
Georg Bauer (Head of the Institute 1989 - 2003)
- A DNA laboratory for forensic medicine was established
Manfred Hochmeister was appointed Professor for Forensic Medicine.
The carve out of the Faculty of Medicine from the University of Vienna was decided upon in the Universities Act.
Manfred Hochmeister (Head of the Department 2004 - 2005)
- The DNA laboratory was accredited
The autonomy of the Medical University of Vienna (formerly the Faculty of Medicine) came into force.
Hans Goldenberg (Director of the Institute for Medical Chemistry – interim Head of the Department 2005 - 2008).
Daniele U. Risser (Interim Head of the Department 01.12.2008 - 31.03.2010).
Daniele U. Risser became Head of the Department of Forensic Medicine (DGM).
- DGM facilities and the DNA central laboratory were renovated and brought into line with the latest technological advances
- The Division of Forensic Toxicology was carved out and included as the Unit of Forensic Toxicology in the Clinical Institute for Laboratory Medicine, Clinical Department for Medical Chemistry Laboratory Diagnostics at the Vienna General Hospital.
- The Division of Forensic Molecular Biology was carved out and turned into an independent limited company (Forensisches DNA-Zentrallabor GmbH of the Medical University of Vienna)
- The post-mortem area was renovated and regular post-mortem activities were resumed at Sensengasse 2 after having been carried out in hospitals belonging to the Vienna Hospitals Association for several years (Video)
- The Units of Forensic Anthropology and Forensic Gerontology was established