Jew­ish Med­ical Resis­tance in the Holocaust

Michael A. Grodin, ed.
  • Review
By – May 5, 2015

While there are many books about resis­tance dur­ing the Shoah, there are few­er about doc­tors and nurs­es who, despite being stripped of their rights to prac­tice med­i­cine in the gen­er­al com­mu­ni­ty, did so in what­ev­er facil­i­ty served as a hos­pi­tal in the Nazi ghet­tos and camps. Doc­tors and nurs­es had to make do in stark sur­round­ings and with few sup­plies avail­able to them, as well as decide on eth­i­cal choic­es that would nev­er have arisen in nor­mal life.

Grodin, work­ing with a team of researchers, exam­ined thou­sands of archived records of first-hand accounts and books writ­ten by doc­tors and authors that described the prac­tice of med­i­cine in a par­tic­u­lar locale dur­ing this peri­od — and the moral and phys­i­cal strug­gles they and their patients endured. Part I deals with con­tain­ing con­ta­gious dis­eases such as typhoid through hygien­ic prac­tices such as delous­ing. Part II delves into orga­nized health care in the ghet­tos, includ­ing the new tech­niques that were cre­at­ed to com­pen­sate for the lack of sup­plies. Part III, Med­i­cine in the Camps,” is espe­cial­ly heart-grab­bing; Part IV gath­ers sto­ries of doc­tors as sol­diers of the Resis­tance. Do not, for a moment, hes­i­tate to read this book fear­ful of it being too tech­ni­cal or dry. It is more than sim­ply a med­ical sto­ry. It is one of the most hero­ic and mov­ing accounts of the Holo­caust this review­er has ever read.

Relat­ed Content:

Mar­cia W. Pos­ner, Ph.D., of the Holo­caust Memo­r­i­al and Tol­er­ance Cen­ter of Nas­sau Coun­ty, is the library and pro­gram direc­tor. An author and play­wright her­self, she loves review­ing for JBW and read­ing all the oth­er reviews and arti­cles in this mar­velous periodical.

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