But they were nonetheless supportive, and many of them still hold very low two or three figure membership numbers, showing that they joined early. Together with my wife, members of the Board and whoever else I could get to volunteer, we tried to get a stand in many of the most important congresses in Europe and the US. I got hold of a set of transportable, folding fixtures with which we could quickly arrange a nice, small exhibition, from which we handed out materials about EADV, its set-up, our plans and its future congresses. It was really quite fun, put us in contact with a multitude of colleagues and took us all over the place over the next half-dozen years. In the end we felt that if everything else failed, we could always try our luck as travelling salesmen! I particularly remember our time in West Berlin at the 1987 World Congress of Dermatology, Prof Constantin Orfanos was kind enough to let us have a stand from which my wife and I could promote EADV. One evening during our stay, Prof Harald Gollnick took my wife and I out to show us a charac- teristic West Berlin sight: a deserted railway bridge under which empty tracks led into East Berlin. His opinion seemed to be, that no trains would ever use these rails again. Little did we know that only two years later the wall would come down and Berlin would open up again. So why has EADV been so successful? Part of the explanation, I think, was perhaps pure luck! Our first EADV Congress happened to take place just two months before the Berlin wall came down, and Prof Panconesi had very wisely invited some well-known speakers, eg Steve Katz (USA) and quite a few prominent East European colleagues to give lectures or be participants. Foreign exchange was scarce for them, so I suspect he used some of the proceeds of the event to make their participation possible. For many it was their first and a most welcome visit to ‘the West’ and since the congress was professionally very sound and socially very pleasant (after all – this was Florence!), I think that EADV became their future “first choice”. As indeed for many others. Another reason undoubtedly is that, until we got under way, there were scores of international congresses with scientific content for colleagues active and interested in D-V research, but not nearly enough in the way of CME and certainly no pan-European meetings dedicated to giving CME courses for D-V practitioners. This meant that there was a pent-up need for large-scale meetings in Europe where practitioners could go to be brought up to date, without having to travel across the Atlantic. Furthermore, it was apparently attractive to our peers to come and give talks, when the audience was so large. This was demonstrated clearly, when Prof Kristian Thestrup-Pedersen, who was responsible for putting together the scientific programme for the 3 rd EADV Congress in Copenhagen in 1993, sent out 500 invitations to prominent colleagues to come, at their own expense, to give one or more lec- tures to us. All we could offer in return was free registration and a ticket to the President’s dinner. 495 of those invited said yes and only five declined due to prior engagements! That convinced us that EADV might not be such a bad idea after all! Finally, I had an unexpected experience on the last evening of the very successful 1 st EADV Congress in Florence: a dinner had been given for speakers, chairmen, other contributors and the EADV Board members, who were, by the way, all founding members. It was a lovely Italian night, mild with a silky, dark blue sky. Very romantic! I was standing just outside the restaurant, not far from the Ponte Vecchio, on the banks of the River Arno. Prof Otto Braun Falco (Munich), who was the driving force behind the annual “Fortbildungswoche” (CME) for D-V practitioners in Munich, came up to me. “We should have thought of this a long time ago”, he said to me, a little reluctantly I would imagine. I took that to mean, that he and his scientific colleagues should have thought of putting on the kind of pan-European CME courses for D-V practitioners, which we had now done. I could only answer: “Yes, you should - but you didn’t. We did!” And indeed, that was it – EADV was put together by a group of people, mostly representing private practitioners, with the aim of giving their colleagues and themselves an added chance to meet, exchange information, become friends and keep abreast of developments in their chosen field.
Rothenborg, H.W. The EADV story: How it came to be. Journal of the European Academy of Dermatology & Venereology, 1992 vol.1: ix–xiv