Egil Tynæs

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Egil Kristian Tynæs (born August 12, 1941 in Lillehammer), was a Norwegian anthroposophical doctor, senior physician at the Municipal Clinic in Bergen and a humanitarian aid worker. On June 2, 2004 in Badghis, Afghanistan Tynæs and four others (Afghans Fasil Ahmad and Besmillah, Belgian Helene de Beir, and Dutchman Willem Kwint) were killed in an ambush whilst working for the humanitarian organization Médecins Sans Frontières. [1]

Lillehammer Municipality in Oppland, Norway

Lillehammer is a town and municipality in Oppland county, Norway. It is part of the traditional region of Gudbrandsdal. The administrative centre of the municipality is the town of Lillehammer. As of 2018, the population of the town of Lillehammer was 28 034. The city centre is a late nineteenth-century concentration of wooden houses, which enjoys a picturesque location overlooking the northern part of lake Mjøsa and the river Lågen, surrounded by mountains. Lillehammer hosted the 1994 Winter Olympics and 2016 Winter Youth Olympics. Before Oslo's withdrawal from consideration, it was included as part of a bid to host events in the 2022 Winter Olympics if Oslo were to win the rights to hold the Games.

Norwegians people

Norwegians are a North Germanic ethnic group native to Norway. They share a common culture and speak the Norwegian language. Norwegian people and their descendants are found in migrant communities worldwide, notably in the United States, Canada, Australia, Argentina, Chile, Uruguay, Brazil, Mexico, New Zealand, the United Kingdom, and South Africa.

Physician professional who practices medicine

A physician, medical practitioner, medical doctor, or simply doctor, is a professional who practises medicine, which is concerned with promoting, maintaining, or restoring health through the study, diagnosis, prognosis and treatment of disease, injury, and other physical and mental impairments. Physicians may focus their practice on certain disease categories, types of patients, and methods of treatment—known as specialities—or they may assume responsibility for the provision of continuing and comprehensive medical care to individuals, families, and communities—known as general practice. Medical practice properly requires both a detailed knowledge of the academic disciplines, such as anatomy and physiology, underlying diseases and their treatment—the science of medicine—and also a decent competence in its applied practice—the art or craft of medicine.


Tynæs worked in his everyday life as a senior doctor at the Municipal Polyclinic in Bergen, Norway. He undertook two assignments for Médecins Sans Frontières. He worked for MSF-Switzerland in 2002 in Baharak, Afghanistan and in 2004 for MSF-Netherlands in Badghis. There, he worked on a tuberculosis project and trained local medical staff. He was killed on the final date of his assignment.

Norway constitutional monarchy in Northern Europe

Norway, officially the Kingdom of Norway, is a Nordic country in Northwestern Europe whose territory comprises the western and northernmost portion of the Scandinavian Peninsula; the remote island of Jan Mayen and the archipelago of Svalbard are also part of the Kingdom of Norway. The Antarctic Peter I Island and the sub-Antarctic Bouvet Island are dependent territories and thus not considered part of the kingdom. Norway also lays claim to a section of Antarctica known as Queen Maud Land.

Médecins Sans Frontières organization

Médecins Sans Frontières, also known in English as Doctors Without Borders, is an international humanitarian medical non-governmental organisation (NGO) of French origin best known for its projects in conflict zones and in countries affected by endemic diseases. In 2015, over 30,000 personnel—mostly local doctors, nurses and other medical professionals, logistical experts, water and sanitation engineers and administrators—provided medical aid in over 70 countries. The vast majority of staff are volunteers. Private donors provide about 90% of the organisation's funding, while corporate donations provide the rest, giving MSF an annual budget of approximately US$1.63 billion.

Baharak, Afghanistan Town in Badakhshan Province, Afghanistan

Baharak is a small town and seat of Baharak District Badakhshan Province in north-eastern Afghanistan. It is roughly 15 kilometers from Jurm, on the Kokcha River. Baharak Girls' School was opened on December 17, 2006 by Munshi Abdul Majeed the Governor of Badakhshan Province, it serves about 3000 girls who attend in three separate shifts during the day.

Early years and study

Egil was born in Lillehammer in 1941. His parents had fled Germany when the conditions for anthroposophical activity and its medical education became worse and worse and eventually ended by being forbidden altogether. As his father came from Germany, he was forced into military service on the Eastern Front where he met his death in the Ukraine in 1943. He abstained from fleeing to Sweden for of fear of reprisals against his remaining family in Germany.

Eastern Front (World War II) theatre of World War II - war between Germany and USSR 1941-1945

The Eastern Front of World War II was a theatre of conflict between the European Axis powers and co-belligerent Finland against the Soviet Union (U.S.S.R.), Poland and other Allies, which encompassed Central Europe, Eastern Europe, Northeast Europe (Baltics), and Southeast Europe (Balkans) from 22 June 1941 to 9 May 1945. It has been known as the Great Patriotic War in the former Soviet Union and modern Russia, while in Germany it was called the Eastern Front, or the German-Soviet War by outside parties.

Ukraine sovereign state in Eastern Europe

Ukraine, sometimes called the Ukraine, is a country in Eastern Europe. Excluding Crimea, Ukraine has a population of about 42.5 million, making it the 32nd most populous country in the world. Its capital and largest city is Kiev. Ukrainian is the official language and its alphabet is Cyrillic. The dominant religions in the country are Eastern Orthodoxy and Greek Catholicism. Ukraine is currently in a territorial dispute with Russia over the Crimean Peninsula, which Russia annexed in 2014. Including Crimea, Ukraine has an area of 603,628 km2 (233,062 sq mi), making it the largest country entirely within Europe and the 46th largest country in the world.

Sweden constitutional monarchy in Northern Europe

Sweden, officially the Kingdom of Sweden, is a Scandinavian Nordic country in Northern Europe. It borders Norway to the west and north and Finland to the east, and is connected to Denmark in the southwest by a bridge-tunnel across the Öresund, a strait at the Swedish-Danish border. At 450,295 square kilometres (173,860 sq mi), Sweden is the largest country in Northern Europe, the third-largest country in the European Union and the fifth largest country in Europe by area. Sweden has a total population of 10.2 million of which 2.4 million has a foreign background. It has a low population density of 22 inhabitants per square kilometre (57/sq mi). The highest concentration is in the southern half of the country.

After the war Egil and his mother, Sissi Tynæs, moved from Lillehammer to Bergen, where she became one of the pillars and pioneers of Rudolf Steiner work in the town. Jörgen Smit was both Egil’s godfather and class teacher at the Rudolf Steiner School in Bergen. [2]

Rudolf Steiner Austrian esotericist

Rudolf Joseph Lorenz Steiner was an Austrian philosopher, social reformer, architect, and esotericist. Steiner gained initial recognition at the end of the nineteenth century as a literary critic and published philosophical works including The Philosophy of Freedom. At the beginning of the twentieth century he founded an esoteric spiritual movement, anthroposophy, with roots in German idealist philosophy and theosophy; other influences include Goethean science and Rosicrucianism.

Jörgen Smit Norwegian, educator, anthroposophist

Jörgen Smit was a Norwegian teacher, teachers teacher, speaker and writer, mainly in the context of the Anthroposophical Society and the Waldorfschool Movement. He was the general secretary of the Norwegian Anthroposophical Society, co-founder of the Rudolf Steiner Seminar in Järna, Sweden and member of the Executive Council of the General Anthroposophical Society at the Goetheanum in Dornach, Switzerland.

Egil went to high school in Bergen. He had decided early in life to become a physician and studied, in Münster, Germany, where he qualified as a doctor in 1970. During the time of his studies he also gained experience working on a biodynamic farm and a Camphill community in Wales. Thereafter he did his housemanship in the anaesthesiology department at Aarhus University Hospital and at Amtssygehus in Skanderborg, Denmark. It was in Denmark that he met his wife Kirsten and started a family of three children together with her in addition to becoming stepfather to her two oldest daughters.

Münster Place in North Rhine-Westphalia, Germany

Münster is an independent city in North Rhine-Westphalia, Germany. It is in the northern part of the state and is considered to be the cultural centre of the Westphalia region. It is also capital of the local government region Münsterland. Münster was the location of the Anabaptist rebellion during the Protestant Reformation and the site of the signing of the Treaty of Westphalia ending the Thirty Years' War in 1648. Today it is known as the bicycle capital of Germany.

Biodynamic agriculture method of organic farming

Biodynamic agriculture is a form of alternative agriculture very similar to organic farming, but it includes various esoteric concepts drawn from the ideas of Rudolf Steiner (1861–1925). Initially developed in 1924, it was the first of the organic agriculture movements. It treats soil fertility, plant growth, and livestock care as ecologically interrelated tasks, emphasizing spiritual and mystical perspectives.

Wales Country in northwest Europe, part of the United Kingdom

Wales is a country that is part of the United Kingdom and the island of Great Britain. It is bordered by England to the east, the Irish Sea to the north and west, and the Bristol Channel to the south. It had a population in 2011 of 3,063,456 and has a total area of 20,779 km2 (8,023 sq mi). Wales has over 1,680 miles (2,700 km) of coastline and is largely mountainous, with its higher peaks in the north and central areas, including Snowdon, its highest summit. The country lies within the north temperate zone and has a changeable, maritime climate.

His interest in anthroposophical medicine, however, led him to the surgical department of the Gemeinnützige Gemeinschaftskrankenhaus, Herdecke, a hospital that had been founded and developed to create an academic university environment where the contributions of spiritual science to the art of healing should be integrated and developed. The central force in this work was MD. Dr Gerhard Kienle. Here Egil fell ill with tuberculosis which forced him to resign after two years of work.

Surgery medical specialty

Surgery is a medical specialty that uses operative manual and instrumental techniques on a patient to investigate or treat a pathological condition such as a disease or injury, to help improve bodily function or appearance or to repair unwanted ruptured areas.

Herdecke Place in North Rhine-Westphalia, Germany

Herdecke is a town in the district of Ennepe-Ruhr-Kreis, North Rhine-Westphalia in Germany. It is located south of Dortmund in the Ruhr Area. Its location between the two Ruhr reservoirs Hengsteysee and Harkortsee has earned it the nickname Die Stadt zwischen den Ruhrseen.

His work in Norway

The family moved to Bergen, where Egil set up a practice as a GP in 1978, practicing anthroposophic medicine. At the beginning of the 1980s, this was extended to include a therapeuticum in which anthroposophical therapists were active. In addition, he was the school physician at the Waldorf School in Bergen and was connected also to Rostadheimen, an educational institution for Special Needs.

In the early 90s he and Kirsten traveled for a year to Georgia to assist Georgian colleagues in the development of a therapeutic centre. Here again he fell ill with tuberculosis, which caused him to close his general practice in Bergen, qualify as a specialist in internal medicine and take up a post as senior doctor at Bergen's municipal outdoor clinic, where he ran its emergency department.

Egil and Kirsten kept an open house where they also organized study groups in anthroposophic medicine. He was one of the initiators of the foundation of the Norwegian Association for anthroposophic medicine (NLFAM), supporting the younger generation of doctors in understanding anthroposophic medicine. [2]

Egil was always drawn to situations of greatest need - drug addicts, or women in Afghanistan. He travelled widely, treating people in the Inuit Arctic and Greenland to the deserts of Afghanistan.

Mission and death in Afghanistan

As a 62-year-old grandfather, Egil Tynæs chose to work in Afghanistan twice in two years. The report of Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) in 2003, with whom he volunteered, states “Afghanistan is neither safe nor stable”; humanitarian agencies' cars have been “held up and shot at.” In March 2003, Red Cross engineer Ricardo Munguia was murdered by gunmen after they stopped the car he was travelling in. [3]

However, MSF identified Afghanistan as the place with the greatest need for Dr Tynæs's skills, especially in treating tuberculosis. He felt it was the right thing to do and wrote: “those of us who live in the wealthy part of the world have a certain responsibility to people who live in poverty and are disadvantaged." He understood the situation having spent five months in Baharak in Afghanistan in 2002 with the Swiss branch of MSF.

There was a sense of trust that Egil was able to build with patients and the local population in spite of the cultural and linguistic differences. He was double the age of any other member of the team, his grey hair and beard familiar and reassuring in meetings with village elders.

After serving with MSF Switzerland's mission in Baharak, a town in northern Afghanistan, he returned in 2003 and helped build MSF in Norway while awaiting his next assignment. It came nearly a year later. It was Afghanistan again, this time the Badghis region in the North-west. The Dutch branch of MSF needed him to lead a local tuberculosis programme, carry out general medical duties and to train local medical staff in basic primary health clinics. By June 2004 the MSF team in Badghis had built up the polyclinic to deal with more than 1000 consultations a month. The TB programme was treating 45 patients and expanding and a mother and baby clinic had opened.

The mission having come to an end, Dr Tynæs and his team appeared happy at having achieved their goal. The next day, on a road near the polyclinic in Khairkhana, the land cruiser in which they were travelling was ambushed with gunfire and grenades killing Dr Tynæs and four other MSF staff. [4]

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Anthroposophic medicine is a form of alternative medicine. Devised in the 1920s by Rudolf Steiner (1861–1925) in conjunction with Ita Wegman (1876–1943), anthroposophical medicine is based on occult notions and draws on Steiner's spiritual philosophy, which he called anthroposophy. Practitioners employ a variety of treatment techniques based upon anthroposophic precepts, including massage, exercise, counselling, and substances.

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  1. Tribute to Egil Tynæs Tidsskrift for den Norske Lægeforen Nr. 15 – 12. august 2004 retrieved 2014.11.13
  2. 1 2 Obituary – Antroposofi i Norge Nr 3-2004 Autumn Newsletter to Members of the Anthroposophical Society in Norway
  3. "Swiss ICRC delegate murdered". IRIN. 28 March 2003. Retrieved 8 March 2016. Ricardo Munguia, a Swiss citizen of Salvadorian origin was travelling with Afghan colleagues on an assignment to improve the water supply to the district. He was shot in cold blood on Thursday by a group of unidentified assailants who stopped the vehicles transporting them...the assailants had shot the 39-year-old water and habitat engineer in the head and burned one car, warning two Afghans accompanying him not to work for foreigners.
  4. Obituary Egil Kristian Tynæs by Tony Sheldon The BMJ retrieved 2014.11.13