Summary One of the most critical advances in modern burns care stemmed from the realisation that morbidity and mortality were significantly reduced if the burn tissue was surgically removed and the resulting surgical wound was closed with autologous skin grafts. This observation derived from the pioneering work of Zora Janžekovič who introduced the burns world to the practice of tangential excision. Working in the most challenging of circumstances in 1960, behind the then ‘Iron Curtain’ Zora Janžekovič began to explore and develop the role of early tangential burn wound excision. This paper is a personal account of this revolutionary era of burns care. It was presented by Zora Janžekovič herself at the 10th Workshop of the European Club for Paediatric Burns held in Graz, Austria, in the autumn of 2007. (Andrew Burd, Editor, JPRAS).