Gisela Januszewska (née Rosenfeld), an Austro- Hungarian ‘Woman Doctor for Women’ in Banjaluka, 1899–1912

Brigitte Fuchs, Husref Tahirović


The focus of this article is on the biography and medical activity of Gisela Januszewska (nee Rosenfeld) in Austro-Hungarian (AH) occupied Bosnia and Herzegovina (BH) between 1899 and 1912. Rosenfeld, later Januszewska and then Kuhn(ova) by marriage, was the fifth of a total of nine official female physicians who were employed by the AH administration to improve the health and hygienic conditions among Bosnian and Bosnian Muslim women. In 1893, Gisela Kuhn moved from Brno, Moravia to Switzerland to pursue her medical studies; she was awarded her Doctorate in Medicine (MD) from the University of Zurich in 1898. In the same year, she took up her first position as a local health insurance doctor for women and children in Remscheid but was prohibited from practising in the German Empire. In 1899, she successfully applied to the AH authorities for the newly established position of a female health officer in Banjaluka and began working there in July 1899. She lost her civil service status upon marrying her colleague, Dr Wladislaw Januszewski, in 1900 but carried out her previously officially assigned tasks as a private physician. In 1903, she was employed as a ‘woman doctor for women’ at the newly established municipal outpatient clinic in Banjaluka. Upon her husband’s retirement in 1912, the couple left BH and settled in Graz, Styria. After, World War I Januszewska ran a general medical practice in Graz until 1935 and worked as a health insurance-gynaecologist until 1933. She received several AH and Austrian awards and medals for her merits as a physician and a volunteer for humanitarian organisations. Upon Austria’s annexation to Nazi Germany 1938, however, she was classified a Jew and was deported to Theresienstadt concentration camp (Terezin, Bohemia), where she died in 1943.

Conclusion. Gisela Januszewska, nee Rosenfeld (1867–1943) viewed her medical practice as a social medicine mission which she put into practice as a ‘woman doctor for woman’ in Banjaluka, BH (1899–1912) and Graz, Austria (1919–1935).


Gisela Januszewska; Female Health Officer; Bosnia and Herzegovina 1878–1918; Banjaluka; Social Medicine

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