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Biographical entry Strach, Erich Hugo (1914 - 2011)

MD Prague 1938; MCh Orth Liverpool 1952; FRCS 1951.

21 October 1914
Brno, Czech Republic
10 January 2011
Orthopaedic surgeon


Eric Hugo Strach was a consultant orthopaedic surgeon on Merseyside. He was born in Brno, Czechoslovakia, into a Jewish family. His father, Cornelius Strach, was a businessman; his mother was Helene Strach née Bachrich. He studied medicine at Prague University and graduated in 1938.

After qualifying he spent some time in France with friends, the Nante family. As the situation in Europe worsened, his parents persuaded him not to return to Czechoslovakia. He stayed on in France and finally found work as a resident medical officer at a sanatorium in Dreux. After it was bombed in 1940, he drove the Nante family to relative safety in Brittany and then joined the Czech Army at Agde in southern France.

He sailed with the Czech Army to Liverpool, where he found a post at Chorley Hospital as a house surgeon. He later moved on to become a senior house surgeon at Wigan Infirmary and then a registrar at Alder Hey Hospital.

After the war, he returned briefly to Czechoslovakia to help deal with an epidemic of typhus in Terezin. On arriving in Prague he discovered that his sister Ilse, her two children and his parents had been killed in the concentration camps.

He decided to return to England, and went back to work at Wigan Infirmary. Deciding to become a surgeon, he gained his FRCS in 1951. He was a senior orthopaedic registrar at Alder Hey, Liverpool Royal Infirmary and then Clatterbridge. He was eventually appointed as a consultant orthopaedic surgeon at St Helens Hospital. He also held a consultant post at Whiston Hospital and had a private practice. After he retired he spent a couple of years at the Royal Liverpool Hospital.

He specialised in the treatment of children with spina bifida, and devised two appliances for these patients - the Strach-Edney calliper and a shunt to drain fluid from the heads of children with hydrocephalus.

A keen amateur astronomer, he designed and built his own solar observatory in his garden and was a member of the Liverpool Astronomical Society.

In retirement, and with the fall of the Iron Curtain, he was able to return to Czechoslovakia for the first time. With his wife he revisited Prague, Brno and Slavkov (Austerlitz) and met his few remaining relatives. He helped plan the erection of a stone in the Jewish cemetery in Slavkov to commemorate the Austerlitz victims of the Holocaust and organised the renovation of the synagogue there. He also developed links with the holocaust memorial and education centre at Beth Shalom, in Nottinghamshire, where a rose was planted in the memorial garden in memory of the family he had lost.

In 1945 he married Margaret Forshaw. They had three children - Helen, Steven and Angela - and six grandchildren. Eric Hugo Strach died in his sleep on 10 January 2011. He was 96.

Sarah Gillam

Sources used to compile this entry: [BMJ 2012 344 1419; The Guardian 17 May 2011 - accessed 21 April 2015; Liverpool Echo 17 January 2011 - accessed 21 April 2015].

The Royal College of Surgeons of England