25th August to 17th November 1939

 

Welcome to the last summer installment of the Schatzalp history blog! So far we have relied on the Davoser Blätter and its co-publications, the Davos Courier and the Courrier de Davos as our primary sources of information, but that’s about to change, for the very good reason that those journals stopped publication after their 25 August 1939 editions, not resuming until 17 November of the same year. The cause of the interruption was the mobilization of the Swiss Army and the calling up of the reserves for the defense of the country’s borders. That left Davos with very few trained typesetters, and it took some time to fill the resulting gap. So this blog installment will follow the usual format, but starting next time we will turn to the writings of Grand Duke Dmitri of Russia to fill us in on what was going on. He arrived in Davos on 31 August and reported to Schatzalp the next day, but arrived too late to have his name included on the current guest list.

I began the last installment by saying a few words about the situation here in the US, and my hometown Portland, Oregon. Things are pretty much the same as of this moment — strange and alarming — but life goes on without too much disruption. Eighty-one years ago, by contrast, it must have been pretty clear to the inhabitants of Europe that life was about to undergo a profound change.

On 1 September 1939 Germany invaded Poland — the first act of what would become the Second World War. If there’s one thing I feel absolutely certain of, it’s that the guests at Schatzalp were glued to their radios during that first week of September, listening to the leaders of each of the warring nations address their people and declare war.

While working on this blog installment, I tried to find recordings of as many of those broadcasts as possible, the better to imagine what the Schatzalp residents experienced. Here are links to the three I listened to:

King George VI of the Untited Kingdom, 3rd September

Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain of the United Kingdom, 3rd September

Dictator Adolf Hitler of Germany, 1st September

As for the Schatzalp census, it is not at all surprising, under the circumstances, that the guest list that had remained steady and even increased up until 11 August now dropped precipitously, going from 108 to 96 residents over the course of only two weeks. The number of countries represented underwent a corresponding decrease from 21 to 19.

Here is the nationalities breakdown:

  1. Germany 16
  2. England 15
  3. Portugal 15
  4. India 8
  5. Ireland 8
  6. Switzerland 6
  7. France 5
  8. Belgium 4
  9. Holland 3
  10. Romania 3
  11. Yugoslavia 3
  12. Czechoslovakia 2
  13. Spain 2
  14. Dutch East Indies 1
  15. Finland 1
  16. Hungary 1
  17. Iraq 1
  18. Italy 1
  19. Syria 1

The Spanish exodus was the most noteworthy, with five of the seven citizens of that country departing. The sole representatives of Brazil and Austria, respectively, likewise made their exit, the Brazilian gentleman having been at Schatzalp for a mere two or three weeks. We don’t know if he went all the way home, but it was certainly an opportune moment to head for South America. I wish I could have found some information about him!

Of the remaining guests there were five noblemen and women — 1 Baron, 1 Marquise, 2 Countesses, and 1 Count. People with professional titles continued to make up roughly 10% of the whole.

The departures follow the usual pattern, with six people out of 21 leaving relatives behind [these can be found in bold print]. What is particularly interesting though is that it was the Marquis de Benicarlo and not his wife who departed. Based on the fact that he had been there much longer than the Marquise (he was number 30 on the previous list, while she was number 93), one assumes that he was the sufferer in the family, but perhaps she had the disease as well. At any rate, neither of them died of it, but it will be interesting to see if she appears on the list of 17 November, after publication resumed.

It is perhaps worth noting that one of the departing guests, Frau Margerete Sachse of Switzerland, shared a name with a famous Austrian character actress who was very active at that time. When I first saw her name on the list I was excited, but after noting the difference in nationality and learning that Frau Sachse the actress worked on two films during the summer of 1939 (from May to July), whereas Frau Sachse the Schatzalp guest was already in residence at the beginning of April and did not leave until mid-August, I realized that it was an almost impossible connection. Dr Maurer would surely not have allowed such comings and goings, however celebrated the patient in question.

Departures:

1. Mr Alphonso Zobel de Ayala, Spain
2. Mr Manuel Aguilar Otermin, Spain
3. Mr Frank Ingham, Austria
4. Mr Robert Holt, England
5. Mons G. Perez-Sanmillan, Marquis de Benicarlo, Spain
6. Frl. S. Lackner, Germany
7. Mme Candelaria Santos Suarez y Giron, Spain
8. Mlle Carmen Creus y Santos Suarez, Spain
9. Miss Alice O’Neill, England
10. Frl. Nedia Krunic, Yugoslavia
11. Frl. Marg. Sachse, Switzerland
12. Mons André Crouzier, France
13. Mme S. Fonseca, Portugal
14. Mrs Florence Howell, England
15. Frau Dr. Gerda Wallach, Germany
16. Herr Dr. P. Cuypers, Dutch East Indies
17. Mr C. Condé de Oliveira, Brazil
18. Mons Jose Fonseca, Portugal
19. Mme F. du Mesnil, France
20. Mme Léonie Laurent, France
21. Herr Werner Rooda, Holland

Five of the nine new arrivals joined relatives already present at Schatzalp. Frau Dr G. Mackh was clearly the wife of Herr Dr G. Mackh, so Herr Dr W. Mackh was perhaps a father or brother of the latter. Mr C. Chaturvedi joined Mr S.L. Chaturvedi (perhaps they were brothers, or father and son). A sixth individual, Mr A.S. Singh, may or may not have been a member of the little family group surrounding Mr Bowa Dinga Singh, the subject of this week’s biographical sketch.

Arrivals:

    1. Herr Dr W. Mackh, Germany
    2. Frau Dr G. Mackh, Germany
    3. Mons Joao Mello Osorio, Portugal
    4. Frau Berta Helfer, Germany
    5. Herr Max Brandeis, Switzerland
    6. Frl. Irmengard Wiemers, Germany
    7. Mlle Marie Thérese de Vasconcellos, Portugal
    8. Mr A.S. Singh, India
    9. Mr C. Chaturvedi, India

The new census shows that slightly more women had left than men (7 vs 5), but the ratio remained amazingly well balanced, with 44 females and 52 males. I found some statistics on gender and tuberculosis mortality in an old TB textbook to which I sometimes refer, though it is only passingly relevant to the Schatzalp situation since we do not know the ages of the patients there. Still, it offers some interesting context:

Of the 60,428 deaths from tuberculosis in the United States in 1940, 35,795 were of the male sex and 24,633 of the female sex… In other words, on an average that year the male death rate exceeded the female by nearly 42 percent… This difference between the two sexes varies with age; until they are ten years old the tuberculosis mortality of boys exceeds that of girls, but between the ages of 10 and 30 the female rate is strikingly higher; after age 30, in the United States, the male tuberculosis mortality exceeds throughout the remainder of life that of the female, the difference being particularly great between the ages of 35 and 70.

This excess of the male tuberculosis death rate over that of the female is somewhat typical in urbanized or industrialized communities; the same situation is noted for instance in England and Wales. There are several exceptions, however, namely, in Italy where the female death rate exceeds, especially through the child-bearing period; in the Netherlands, the female tuberculosis death rate exceeds that of the males up to age 40. Other countries, where the female rate exceeds that of the males, might be noted: Denmark, Japan, both sections of Ireland, the Netherlands, Norway, Sweden.”*

The author did not claim to know the reason for the age-gender mortality divergence, and simply allowed the numbers to speak for themselves.

Speaking of science and research, the Davoser Blätter of 25 August, instead of directing its readers to the latest popular novel, suggested some more serious literature coming out of Davos itself:

The Physical-Meteorological Observatory in Davos, under the direction of Dr. W. Mörikofer, has recently published some interesting scientific papers. Dr. Mörikofer is the author of a very comprehensive publication, a reprint of the Handbook of Biological Working Methods published by Urban and Schwarzberg, which deals with meteorological radiation measurement methods, an area that has been particularly closely studied by the head of our observatory for many years. – His co-workers O. Eckel and Chr. Thams published investigations on density, temperature and radiation conditions of the snow cover in Davos, and W. Hecht and W. Mörikofer submitted as a third publication a paper on criticism and improvement of the gray wedge photometer method, which came out as a special edition from the Meteorological Journal 1939, issue 4 and 5”.

English readers, meanwhile, could savor the final installment of Llewelyn Powys’s “Summer in My Alpine Village Home”. And those who preferred French had two articles to choose from: “Le Lac de Davos” and “Le Visage Politique de la Suisse”.

The latest sporting news certainly gave no indication that anything at all was amiss in Europe. The Landquart-Davos Alpine Cycling Championship had just taken place for the first time the previous Sunday after an interruption of several years. It was a 48km course encompassing 1000 meters difference in altitude from start to finish. There were 25 participants, all of whom finished the race. The average speed was 27.5km per hour, and the winner was a gentleman called Henri Roth from Degersheim, who completed the course in 1 hour, 44 minutes, and 46 seconds. I imagine there were at least one or two Schatzalp guests who slipped away from the rest-cure to be there at the finish-line.

But the most stupendously optimistic item to be published in the 25 August edition was the announcement that the International Skating Association had chosen Davos as the site of its 1940 Men’s European Speed Skating Championship. Needless to say, it did not actually take place!

Before proceeding to this weeks guest spotlight, I’d like to say a quick word about a certain Mr Nathaniel Hone who came to Schatzalp from Ireland at the end of July, 1939, and left at some point during the two-month interval when the Davoser Blätter suspended publication. Mr Hone, like Frau Sachse, bore a famous name, though in his case there can be no mistaken identity since the Irish painters Nathaniel Hone the Elder and Nathaniel Hone the Younger died in 1794 and 1917 respectively (the former was the great-grand-nephew of the latter). I have not been able to establish any familial relationship between the Schatzalp Hone and the two artists, but one does wonder…

I suppose it is not absolutely impossible that the subject of our short biographical sketch, Bowa (Bawa) Dinga Singh of Lahore, India (now Pakistan), is not the same man whom I was able to find on the internet, but it seems so highly unlikely that I shall, at any rate, proceed:

B.D. Singh was a timber baron in Lahore, who started out as a clerk with Spedding & Co Timber Merchants and ended up as Chairman and Managing Partner of Spedding, Dinga Singh & Co. At some point he received the title Rai Bahadur, an honor conferred by the British Raj. His wife was called Durga Devi Singh, and one of his many children was a son called Bawa Sunder Singh. That would seem to confirm the identity of the Schatzalp B.D. Singh, since he was joined there in July 1939 by Mr Bawa Sunder Singh and Mrs Devi Dinga Singh, who arrived together.

The thing that initially gave me pause about Rai Bahadur B.D. Singh was his age. One online listing says that his date of birth is unknown, but another places it in 1855, which means he was 83 or 84 years old at the time of his death in 1939. Tuberculosis, on the other hand, has often been portrayed as a disease of the young — one thinks immediately of the many poets, writers, composers, etc, who died at the height of their careers in the 19th century, depriving posterity of the brilliant works they would undoubtedly have produced in later life. The oldest patient at Thomas Mann’s “Berghof” suffers not from consumption but malaria, and the house is overrun with feckless young people, whiling their lives away. So what do we make of the octogenarian Rai Bahadur?

Well, as it turns out, “old-age type tuberculosis” was (and is) a significant subset of TB cases overall. The same old textbook that gave me the mid-20th century statistics on tuberculosis and gender has some interesting age-based numbers as well. For instance, among the Caucasian population in the US, those 75 and over, both male and female, had the highest TB mortality rate. If you lived long enough with a latent infection, it could very well emerge as active disease in old age. Not surprisingly, racial minorities, whose lives were generally much harder, tended to succumb to the disease at an earlier age. Outside the US, the English and Welsh TB mortality rates were highest among middle-aged men and young adult women. In Ireland, meanwhile, it truly was a young person’s disease, with those in their 20s hit hardest, regardless of gender. In Paris, young women died in droves, but men reached their peak risk only between the ages of 60 and 65.

I do not know the age-related statistics for either India or Lahore, but it turns out to be quite plausible that our Schatzalp B.D. Singh was indeed the Rai Bahadur. Only one point of suspicion remains: Rai Bahadur Bawa Dinga Singh died in 1939 in Lahore. Could our B.D. have made it back to his homeland before dying? Would a terminally ill octogenarian have even attempted such a trip? Certainly the arrival of his wife and son at Schatzalp suggests that he was either already on his death bed or they had come to take him home. We don’t know exactly when they left, but none of them reappeared on the guest list when publication resumed in November, so overall I am satisfied.

Two structures remain standing in Lahore that attest to the importance the Rai Bahadur once enjoyed in that city. The Bawa Dinga Singh building, erected in 1927 at the behest of its namesake, is now a shopping center. (Link to the picture)

The Rai Bahadur’s family home. (Link to the picture)

Finally, if any of you just happen to be interested in the Indian Army, consider having a look at: “Tradition Never Dies: The Genesis and Growth of the Indian Army”, written by a Lt. Col. Bawa Sundar Singh, and published in India in 1972.

As for a specific activity, my suggestion to those of you who are currently at Schatzalp and would like to honor the memory of B.D. Singh is simply to take a hike on one of the forest paths and spare a thought for the old timber merchant from Lahore.

Until next time!
Your Dr William Lee

  1. Mme Andrée Ferrand, France
  1. Herr Doctor Walter Mackh, Germany
  2. Herr Erwin Geist, Germany
  3. Mlle Laurice Antaki, Syria
  4. Miss Doris W. Bartlett, England
  5. Mme Maria Ernestina Infante da Camara Martins Pereira, Portugal
  6. Mons le Dr Louis Baudrux, Belgium
  7. Mons Spiro Valerianos, Romania
  8. Mons Guy Lefort, France
  9. Mrs Emilie Francis, England
  10. Mr Bowa Dinga Singh, Lahore, India
  11. Mme C. Valerianos, Romania
  12. Miss C. Howell, England
  13. Herr Dr W. Zechnall, Germany
  14. Mme Mello Osorio, Portugal
  15. Herr Baron F. von Langenn, Germany
  16. Herr Dr G.Wallach, Germany
  17. Kumar S. Gupta, India
  18. Frl. B. Weiss, Switzerland
  19. Mrs Georgina Rawlins, England
  20. Mlle Marie E. Alvarez, Portugal
  21. Mr Martin McGrath, England
  22. Mlle Hélène Mathieu, France
  23. Mr Oswald Müller-Dubrow, Director, Ireland
  24. Mrs M.E. Müller-Dubrow, Ireland
  25. Frau Nada Paolovic, Yugoslavia
  26. Frl. Vlasta Navratil, Kolin, Czechoslovakia
  27. Mr P. Cunningham, Ireland
  28. Herr Andreas Kammer, Hungary
  29. Mr George Foreman, England
  30. Mlle Z. Manolesco, Romania
  31. Mr M. Clenagham, Ireland
  32. Mme Josefa Murteira, Portugal
  33. Mons Joâo Sequeira Cantinho, Portugal
  34. Mr James Clarke, England
  35. Mr Mario Ferreira, Portugal
  36. Miss A.C. Rouse, Ireland
  37. Frau Petronella A. Kleinhoonte, Holland
  38. Frl. Eva-Brita Aminoff, Finland
  39. Mr Vincent Reynolds, Ireland
  40. Mr S.L. Chaturvedi, Calcutta, India
  41. Mons F. Gosset, France
  42. Mons Antonio Orfila, Spain
  43. Herr Heinrich Wepf, Switzerland
  44. Frl. Emmy Lion, Dutch East Indies
  45. Mrs Cecily Drummond, England
  46. Mlle Comtessa Marie Cecil de Carnide and nurse, Portugal
  47. Mons le Comte Jose de Carnide, Portugal
  48. Mme le Comtesse Tereza de Carnide, Portugal
  49. Mons Dr Julio de Vasconcellos, Portugal
  50. Herr Hans Warsitz, Germany
  51. Mr George Bull, England
  52. Mons Fernando Madureira, Portugal
  53. Mr Geoffroy Pittar, England
  54. Mlle Jeanne Opsomer, Holland
  55. Mr Hussein Kamil, Baghdad, Iraq
  56. Mons Fernando Madureira, Portugal*
  57. Mr K. McFadden, Ireland
  58. Mons F. du Mesnil, France
  59. Mons Antonio Lopes de Fonseca, Portugal
  60. Mr John Kennagh, England
  61. Mlle Rosalia Termini, Italy
  62. Herr Dr. Hans Cornet, Germany
  63. Mrs G. Solomon, England
  64. Frl. Felicia Bohm, Yugoslavia
  65. Herr Dr. E. Kux, Germany
  66. Ew. Generaloberin Mussiliey, Schweiz
  67. Mlle G. Humbert, Switzerland
  68. Herr Dr. Jonkheer van Haeften, Holland
  69. Frau L. Bierman, Germany
  70. Mrs Ph. Monk, England
  71. Mr. Eric Monk, England
  72. Mons Andre Gilles, Belgium
  73. Mlle Francoise Lhonneux, Belgium
  74. Mme Gabrielle Lhonneux, Belgium
  75. Mr Nathaniel Hone, Ireland
  76. Mme Marquise de Benicarlo, Spain
  77. Herr Egon von Brasseur, Germany
  78. Mr Amar Kapur, India
  79. Mr Bawa Sunder Singh, India
  80. Mrs Devi Dinga Singh, India
  81. Frau Maria Bundy, Yugoslavia
  82. Frl. Wilma Röllinger, Germany
  83. Herr Hynek Katz, Böhmen, Czechoslovakia
  84. Mlle L. Achard, Switzerland
  85. Frl. Antonie Muller, Germany
  86. Mr Arthur Rawlins, England
  87. Herr Dr W. Mackh, Germany
  88. Frau Dr G. Mackh, Germany
  89. Mons Joao Mello Osorio, Portugal
  90. Frau Berta Helfer, Germany
  91. Herr Max Brandeis, Switzerland
  92. Frl. Irmengard Wiemers, Germany
  93. Mlle Marie Thérese de Vasconcellos, Portugal
  94. Mr A.S. Singh, India
  95. Mr C. Chaturvedi, India

*See: Goldberg, Benjamin, ed., Clinical Tuberculosis, “Chapter 1: Epidemiology of Tuberculosis”, by Godias J. Drolet, F.A. Davis Co., Philadelphia, 1946

 

 

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