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Alfons Karlovich Zivert

Born 1872
Died 1922

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Ukrainian physician. His name is also commonly spelled Siewert.

Biography of Alfons Karlovich Zivert

Alfons-Ferdinand-Julius Zivert, in everyday life called Alfons Karlovich Zivert was  a descendant of German nobility sworn to the Russian Empire. His father, privy councilor Karl-Ferdinand Zivert, was a remarkable figure in the history of intelligence service. He started his career as a post official, and became a chief of the "Black Cabinet" (censorship and intelligence service division) at Kiev Communication District. His main job was to organize a secret perusal of letters. He invented unique device to read letters secretly without staying a trace, and was associated with perusal of the mail of diplomats and state officials. In the end of long successful career, in 1917 he was accused of being a Russian-Austrian double agent. 

One of his sons – Erich Zivert – inherited father’s business and became post official and officer of Russian Army. During World War I Erich was captured by Austrians and his later fate is unknown. 

Erich’s brother, Alfons-Ferdinand Julius Zivert choose a medical career. He worked as an Assistant Professor in the imperial Saint Vladimir University of Kiev, also being a practitioner in the local K.E. Wagner Clinic. In 1912 Zivert became Privatdozent (Adjunct Associate Professor). Later, in 1920–1921 he was Chairman of the Department of Internal Medicine at St. Vladimir University, while also being Chief Physician to the 12th Clinic of Internal Medicine at Kiev Clinical Military Hospital. 

As early as in 1902 Zivert published in a national weekly medical paper at Saint Petersburg (“The Russian Physician”) a description of a case of young man with sinusitis, congenital bronchiectasis and situs inversus viscerum. Later this Russian original description was republished in Germany. This later German version of his article is referred to by Western specialists as the first description of the Siewert-Kartagener triad, although in fact it was published by Zivert in Russian 2 years earlier. 

Zivert also studied the Physiology of blood pressure and uric acid excretion, he published a monograph on  Toxicology, and in  1912 was a speaker in Cardiology at the IV Congress of Russian Internists. This presentation about active mechanisms of cardiac diastole is quite remarkable, because it contained an idea that energy is used in  the myocardium not only for contraction, but also for relaxation, which sounds modern in our time. Its supplemented version he republished later in Germany.9 

Dr. Zivert married the daughter of a known Russian musician V.V. Puhol’sky, Director of the Imperial Kiev Conservatory; they had 2 sons (Vladimir and Georgiy) and daughter Maria. Their eldest son, Vladimir Alfonsovich Zivert (4 July 1902 – 7 May 1938) lived a dramatic life. He entered St. Vladimir’s University as a Law student, was deeply involved in the events of the February and October Revolutions of 1917, and became one of the leaders of monarchist Union of South-Russian Youth, opposed to Bol’sheviks (1917-1919). A gifted speaker and organizer, he was an anti-Soviet activist and was arrested by the Cheka in 1919. But soon, through the intercession of his father, who had some influence in the post-revolutionary Kiev, Vladimir Zivert was liberated. He later graduated from the Kiev Institute of Foreign Relations as a lawyer. 

The dramatic events of World War 1 and the Civil War did not improve Dr. Zivert’s health. In 1922 Alfons Karlovich Zivert died at the age of 49.  His son Vladimir was imprisoned once more in 1929 and exilded to Siberia in 1932, accused of being a member of an anti-Soviet clerical pro-fascist organization. He was shot.10 

We thank Leonid Churilov, St. Petersburg, for information submitted.

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