Healthcare in Auschwitz
Medical Care and Special Treatment of Registered Inmates
The famous Italian Holocaust survivor Primo Levi informed us in his eyewitness account Survival in Auschwitz that a number of sickbays and infirmaries etc. existed in the area of the Auschwitz camp. The present book gives an overview of the camp’s organizational and historical development in this regard. For example, there was a change of policy among Himmler and his entourage toward the end of 1942 regarding the main function of Germany’s concentration camps. While initially reeducation and punishment were their main focus, exploiting the inmates’ productive potential became increasingly important later on. The main reason for this was the ever-increasing needs of the German armed forces for manpower. Another reason for the installation of sanitary facilities were epidemics which emerged repeatedly for a number of reasons and which had to be combatted.
In the first part of this book, the author analyzes the inmates’ living conditions as well as the various sanitary and medical measures implemented to maintain or restore the inmates’ health.
The second part explores what happened in particular to those inmates registered at Auschwitz who were “selected” or subject to “special treatment” while disabled or sick. The comprehensive documentation presented shows clearly that everything was tried to cure these inmates, especially under the aegis of Garrison Physician Dr. Wirths.
The last part of this book is dedicated to the remarkable personality of Dr. Wirths, the Auschwitz garrison physician since 1942. His reality refutes the current stereotype of SS officers. In this context, the statements by the former communist concentration camp survivor Hermann Langbein are particularly revealing.
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