Lane Library

World War II

World War II

"On 24 August 1939 the Western World was stupefied by the news that Stalin and Hitler, who had been violently abusing each other for five years, had shaken hands in a non-aggression pact. The world did not yet know the secret clauses, in which they also agreed to partition Poland. After his usual preparatory propaganda of fake frontier incidents, Hitler launched his attack on Poland on 1 September 1939. Two days later Britain and France declared war on Germany. The British Dominions followed suit shortly, and World War II was on." [8]

In response to the events in Europe, the peaceful progress of the medical school was interrupted by the declaration of a state of National Emergency on October 17, 1940. This included the establishment of compulsory military service for all males from 18 to 36 years of age. Also on October 17, 1940 orders went out from Washington to establish selective service agencies and put them in action throughout the various states and counties. Volunteer selective service boards were established by districts within larger cities and in all counties. The immediate problems of the medical school were, first, the deferment from military service of medical students so they could complete their medical education and serve as physicians, second, some method of deferring premedical students who were likely candidates for admission to medical school and third, the problem of maintaining an adequate faculty. [9]

The dark days of all-out war came with the Japanese bombing of Pearl Harbor at Honolulu on December 7, 1941. Immediately, practically everything in the United States went on a war schedule. Industry began to expand, employment on the West Coast doubled or tripled, new ship-yards were built, airplane factories, munitions plants, and equipment manufacturers went into high gear. Because of the speedup in industry , particularly in the San Francisco Bay Area, salaries kept rising to a fantastic amount for day labor, either full-time of part time. The depression was finally a thing of the past.

Shortly after the Declaration of War against Japan on December 8 , 1941 the medical schools went on a continuous teaching program known as the 9.9.9 Medical Plan. This meant that Stanford Medical School opened its regular classes in September, 1941, continued for the 9 months ending on a Friday afternoon in June, 1942, but the following Monday the next academic year was begun. This continued throughout the period of war and, during the four years, five classes were graduated from the medical school.

Approximately 35% of the Stanford Medical Faculty were on military leaves of absence, many of them serving in Army Evacuation Hospital No. 59 in the European theater during the war. The Staff of this special unit was composed of members of the staff of the San Francisco Hospital, all but four were members of the Stanford University Medical Faculty or the Stanford resident staff. This Evacuation Hospital made an outstanding record in the European theater. The report of its accomplishments, the number of patients cared for, the low mortality rate of the large number or patients cleared through the hospital was the subject of a laudatory special Report by the Historical Division, Office of the Surgeon General, U. S. Army.

World War II ended in Europe with the crushing defeat of the German army. German General Jodl signed an unconditional surrender at Allied headquarters in Rheims on 7 May 1945.

The Combined Allied Chiefs of Staff, meeting at Quebec in September 1944 predicted that it would take eighteen months after the surrender of Germany to defeat Japan. Actually, the war in the Pacific was ended in 1945 only three months after V E Day as a direct result of the cataclysmic explosion of the first atomic bomb over Hiroshima on August 6 and a second atomic bomb over Nagasaki on August 9.

Although many Americans have expressed contrition over exploding the first atomic bombs, it is difficult to see how the Pacific war could otherwise have been concluded , except by a long and bitter invasion of Japan.

Even after the two atomic bombs had been dropped, and the Potsdam declaration had be clarified to assure Japan that she could keep her emperor, the surrender was a very near thing. Emperor Hirohito had to override his two chief military advisers and take the responsibility of accepting the Potsdam terms. That he did on 14 August 1945, but even after that a military coup d'état to sequester the emperor, kill his cabinet, and continue the war was narrowly averted. Hirohito showed great moral courage; and the promise to retain him in power despite the wishes of Russia (which wanted the war prolonged and Japan given over to anarchy) was a very wise decision.

After preliminary arrangements had been made at Manila with General MacArthur's and Admiral Nimitz's staff, an advance party was flown into Atsugi airfield near Tokyo on 28 August 1945. Scores of ships of the United States Pacific Fleet, and of the British Far Eastern Fleet, then entered Tokyo Bay.

On 2 September 1945 World War II ended with the signing by General Umezu, the Japanese Foreign Minister, of the surrender document. The signing took place on the deck of the American Battleship Missouri in Tokyo Bay and in the presence of representatives of the Allied countries.

At 9:25 a. m., as the formalities closed, a flight of hundreds of aircraft swept over the Missouri and her sister ships. Then General Douglas MacArthur, the presiding officer, broadcast an address to the people of the United States:

Today the guns are silent. A great tragedy has ended. A great victory has been won. . . A new era is upon us. . . [10]

It was indeed a new era for Stanford Medical School and its prospects for moving to the Campus, a major deterrent to which had been insufficient population on the Peninsula to provide patients for teaching and research. Now World War II and its aftermath had resulted in a massive influx of war related activities and population - the latter augmented by immigration of families seeking a better life on the Peninsula.

Another significant effect of World War II was the accelerated federal funding of educational and research programs. During the war years Dean Chandler accepted these government programs as necessary to meet wartime goals. However, it was his successors in the deanship who took full advantage of the tremendous postwar increase of federal funding to enlarge and strengthen Stanford Medical School along new lines, including its transfer to the University campus.

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Deans Committee Veterans Hospitals

While he was in general cautious about accepting federal funds, Dr. Chandler approved the concept of Veterans hospitals and of medical school involvement with them.

On July 1, 1946 Stanford and the University of California Schools of Medicine jointly took over the professional staffing of the Fort Miley Veteran's Hospital in San Francisco and the medical care of all its patients The arrangement was made possible by the Veterans Administration's establishment of the "Deans Committee Veterans Hospitals" throughout the country. These teaching facilities were available for interns and residents but not for medical students. The affiliation of medical schools with Veterans Hospital proved invaluable to both the veterans and to the schools.

It was to a major degree due to Dean Chandler's efforts that Stanford and the University of California took over the professional staffing of Fort Miley Veterans Hospital. After Stanford Medical School moved to Palo Alto, Dr. Chandler served from 1959 until his retirement in 1968 as chief of surgery at the Palo Alto Veterans Administration Hospital. He played a key role in its original development as a teaching hospital under a Stanford Dean's Committee. [11]

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The Quality of Education at Stanford

Dean Chandler believed that the contribution and stature of Stanford Medical School could be best measured by the accomplishments of its graduates. He proudly cited the following outstanding Stanford graduates in a wide range of medical fields as proof that the Stanford system of medical education was remarkably effective. Numbered among the eminent Stanford alumni who graduated during the Chandler years were Albert Snoke, Executive Director of Yale-New Have Hospital; Sherman Mellinkoff, Dean of UCLA School of Medicine; Arthur Richardson, Dean of Emory University School of Medicine; Philip Lee, Assistant Secretary of Health, Education, and Welfare; and pioneer surgeons Frank Gerbode, Victor Richards and Roy Cohn. [12]

It is of interest to note that the above list of those considered the outstanding graduates of the School during the Chandler years includes none devoted to investigation in the basic sciences.

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President Tresidder's Plans for the Medical School

When President Donald Tresidder succeeded President Wilbur in the presidency of the University in January of 1943 he learned of Dr. Wilbur's ambitious Endowment Campaign which called for generous grants to the medical school to build new facilities in San Francisco. President Tresidder also learned that none of these facilities had been funded and that the offer of a large gift by an anonymous donor for a medical school building was not acquired because of failure of the University - after prodigious efforts -to raise the necessary matching funds. In short, President Wilbur's earnest fund-raising activities on behalf of the Medical School over the previous twenty-five years had been largely unsuccessful while the medical facilities in San Francisco had continued to deteriorate and the academic program to grow.

In 1944 the University Board of Trustees asked President Tresidder to review everything the University was doing to determine what was good and should be kept and expanded, what wasn't so good, should be approved or stopped, and what was not being done that should be done.

The Medical School component of this University-wide review was prepared by a committee appointed by Dean Chandler. This committee was comprised of Professors Harold K. Faber, Charles E. Smith, and Edwin W. Schultz (the so-called "Faber Committee")

The Faber Committee's study was completed in 1946 and at that time was approved by the Board of Trustees The Committee's most important recommendation was that the medical school buildings in San Francisco should be modernized and expanded. Specifications for the new construction were prepared and a definite fund-raising campaign for the School of Medicine was incorporated in an overall plan of securing additional gifts and contributions to the University as a whole. Insignificant progress was made, however, and the death of President Donald Tresidder in January 1948, put all these Medical School plans and activities in abeyance for five years. [13]

Before considering further developments in the final years of Dr. Chandler's deanship, let us comment briefly on a major reason for continuing reluctance to move the Medical School from San Francisco to the Stanford Campus. It was no secret that President Tresidder and Dean Chandler and some faculty members were keenly interested in the possibility of an integrated medical school on the Campus. This was in spite of the determined opposition of faculty members with established medical practices in San Francisco.

In order to explore thoroughly the concept of an integrated School President Tresidder and Dean. Chandler visited the universities of Illinois, Cornell, Duke, and Michigan to learn from their experience in this regard. After these visits the President and Dean concluded that a move to the Campus would be unwise until the school could be assured of an adequate number of patients for teaching and research in that location, a condition requiring the cooperation of the local physicians.

Evidence of poor cooperation by the local physicians in the Campus area already existed. To be specific, previous efforts by Stanford to affiliate with the county hospitals in Santa Clara and San Mateo Counties had failed because of local politics and disagreement over who would control appointment of the service chiefs. To President Tresidder and Dean Chandler these rebuffs meant that the local doctors were not ready to cooperate with a Stanford Medical School in their midst and that an attempt to consolidate the School on the Campus was therefore premature.

Later experience showed that President Tresidder and Dean Chandler were correct in predicting that there would be significant friction between the Medical School and the local practitioners when the School moved to the Campus, but mistaken in their assumption that this negative disposition could not be overcome. [14]

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President Sterling's Plans for the Medical School

In April 1949, J. E. Wallace Sterling was named President of the University to succeed the late President Tresidder, and in March 1951 the Board of Trustees reaffirmed their intention to proceed with plans to expand and modernize the medical school in San Francisco, as recommended by the Faber Committee in 1946. The Alumni and the public were informed. A drive for funds was started and, as on previous occasions, it was unsuccessful.

In view of the lack of progress, President Sterling and the Board of Trustees decided in the spring of 1952, to review again the whole problem of the Medical School's future. For this purpose President Sterling appointed the following eight-man committee of the Medical Council, known as the Sterling Committee, to conduct yet another study and determine what would be best for medical education at Stanford:

The Sterling Committee

  • Dr. R. L. Chandler, Dean
  • Dr. Arthur L. Bloomfield, Professor of Medicine
  • Dr. Windsor C. Cutting Professor of Pharmacy
  • Dr. William W. Greulich, Professor of Anatomy
  • Dr. Henry S. Kaplan, Professor of Radiology
  • Dr. William H. Northway, Professor of Medicine
  • Dr. Victor Richards, Asst. Professor of Surgery
  • Dr. Lowell A. Rantz., Associate Professor of Medicine

The Sterling Committee made a remarkably comprehensive study of medical education in general and the Stanford Medical School in particular, and reported its findings to President Sterling in the spring of 1952. Unaccountably, the question of moving the school to the campus was not addressed by the Committee and the inference of the Sterling Report was that the medical school would remain in San Francisco. [15]

Decision to Move to the Campus

Meanwhile President Sterling and the Board of Trustees had been considering the long-range advantages of consolidating the Medical School on the campus On July 15, 1953 the Board of Trustees announced their decision. The conditions were now, at last, favorable. They would establish a united Medical School on the Stanford campus.

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Resignation of Dean Chandler

One month later, on August 31, 1953, Dean Chandler resigned the deanship he had held for the past twenty years, describing his decision enigmatically as "a necessary move to keep the Stanford University vital and growing. " Dean Chandler personally believed that the move of the Medical School from San Francisco to the campus was inevitable and only a matter of timing - and that President Sterling would provide the necessary leadership. [16]

For an insightful and nostalgic memoir of the Chandler years, see Medicine and the Stanford University School of Medicine: Circa 1932, The Way It Was by Dr. David A. Rytand, Arthur I. Bloomfield Professor of Medicine, published in 1984 by the Department of Medicine and Alumni Association, Stanford University School of Medicine.

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