Jewish Medical Resistance in the Holocaust

Berghahn  2014


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.

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