The grave of Yersin – friend of the Vietnamese

On your tour of the central coast city of Nha Trang, after exploring the islands and beaches, you should head south on National Highway 1A for 20 kilometers to visit the grave of the physician and bacteriologist, Alexandre Yersin. The Swiss/French who had made Vietnam his home is best known for discovering the bacteria that causes the bubonic plague. The grave is in Suoi Cat Commune, Dien Khanh District, Khanh Hoa Province.

Accessed via a small trail, the grave is on a hill under the shade of rubber trees. The tombstone says he was a “Benefactor and humanist, venerated by the Vietnamese people”.

Yersin (1863-1943) was born in Switzerland to a Swiss father and a French mother. He studied in Switzerland and later moved to France where he obtained a degree in medicine. Yersin devoted 50 years of his life to work in Pasteur Institute

He traveled to Nha Trang for the first time in 1891. At the end of 1899, he came back and established the Pasteur Institute. He devoted 50 years of his life to microbiology, virology, and epidemic research and he developed a vaccine against the bubonic plague.

Living modestly, he gained the trust of Con hamlet villagers. He traveled in the mountains and recorded his observations. He also recommended to the government to establish a hill station in what is now Dalat.

Yersin died in Nha Trang on March 1, 1943. According to the instructions in his will, his body was buried with his face to the earth and facing the sea so that he could forever embrace his second homeland.

For the many things he did for Vietnam, he is the most beloved French person to the people here. By Anh Viet in Nha Trang of SGT


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