by Marcela Ganea
BUCHAREST, July 12 (Xinhua) -- "I am very proud of what my father did in China in the Anti-Japanese War, together with other doctors," Tania Iancu, daughter of a late Romanian military doctor named David Iancu, told Xinhua in a recent interview.
"They were an example of international solidarity to help suffering people in need," she said.
When he was 29 years old, Dr. David Iancu, as a member of an international Red Cross mission comprising 20 European medical doctors, including another Romanian doctor Bucur Clejan, volunteered to go to China to cover the medical needs of as many military units as possible. He worked with Chinese nurses from 1939 to 1945.
"I've been deeply touched by all my father's stories about China. I understood it was a faraway country, with totally different traditions and everyday life, but he enjoyed living with ordinary Chinese people and working with Chinese nurses," Tania Iancu said.
"The most shocking stories are about the hardship of their work, such as the long trips by foot, for weeks on end, because there were no roads, no railways... The first trip was to his military unit, he started in boots and ended up in traditional Chinese straw slippers. Upon arrival, he found no medical premises but only soldiers with deep and infected wounds lying in the snow ..." she said.
Dr. Iancu adjusted to the new, totally different environment, and made efforts to learn Chinese.
"My father's moral strength to start from scratch is extremely impressive," said Tania Iancu, adding that "he improvised a surgery unit, started to train young Chinese with little educational background, and sent soldiers to find materials and build beds, and also a sterilization unit for bandages."
When Dr. Baer, a German doctor, fell ill, Dr. Iancu walked for four days to reach his friend and treat him because his Chinese team was not prepared yet to cure him.
Dr. Iancu fell ill with exanthematic typhus in 1942 and his Chinese nurse looked after him and saved his life. Tania Iancu has two photos with the Chinese nurse. "He was lucky," she said, "because the wife of another Romanian doctor died from typhus and she was buried by the Chinese soldiers she had looked after. I am sorry I haven't kept communication with that nurse."
Tania said that his father, back in the country, lost his job with the Romanian Army, and needed some time to be rehabilitated.
The authorities checked all people who had been in China, Spain or France for fear that they might have been "spies or traitors", according to the procedures of those confusing times after World War II. Dr. Iancu wrote to then Chinese Premier Zhou Enlai to ask for a certificate attesting that he had worked with the Chinese people and this helped him get back his job as a military doctor.
Then, he studied nuclear medicine and set up a radioactive isotope lab, before eventual retirement.
Dr. Iancu re-contacted China only in 1978 when his friend Wang Bingnan, then head of the Chinese People's Association for Friendship with Foreign Countries, headed a Chinese delegation to Bucharest and wanted to meet him in person and invited the doctor to visit China.
In 1979, Dr. Iancu, accompanied by his wife, had a one-month stay in China after 34 years, and he visited many locations as he wanted to see changes in the life of ordinary people, and to talk to local people. His very young Chinese translator was Liu Zengwen, who, many years later, became the Chinese ambassador to Romania.
Tania told Xinhua that when his father died in 1990, Liu sent a courtesy car from the Chinese embassy to the Iancus family to take them all to the crematorium where Dr. Iancu was cremated.
Tania Iancu proudly shows original photos with Dr. Iancu and his Chinese nurse, working on medical premises with bandages hanging on a line in the open air to get dried, or with Dr. Iancu accompanied by his European colleagues at moments when they had a chance to meet.
She has also kept the uniform, the binoculars, the flashlight, the personal kit holder, and the blood pressure monitor with cuff used by Dr. Iancu when he worked with the Chinese. Her collection includes also photos taken in 1979 when Dr. Iancu visited China.
The hardships during those times created a strong, everlasting bond among the doctors working in China during the wartime. After leaving China in 1945, the European doctors kept regular correspondence and even visited each other. Dr. Iancu's daughter remembers meeting Dr. Freudmann from Austria -- her father's best friend in China, and Dr. Kaneti from Bulgaria who married a Chinese lady doctor and took her to Bulgaria.
The children of the doctors still maintain communication among them and they are invited by the Chinese government to anniversary meetings. So they travel from various countries to meet in China.
Former Chinese President Hu Jintao, on his official visit as a Chinese president to Romania in 2004, mentioned the exceptional work done in China during the war by Dr. David Iancu, Dr. Bucur Clejan and his wife, and personally met with Dr. Iancu's daughter, Tania.
The doctor's daughter said that his father began to write memories 30 years after his serving as a doctor in China, with the aim of leaving evidence behind. However, the book was published by her 18 years after his death and 63 years after the war. Tania Iancu said that she preserved the original style and added dozens of pages of explanations for the names, locations and terms mentioned by his father.