The Past and Promise of Jewish Prisoner-Physicians’ Accounts
A Case Study of Auschwitz-Birkenau’s Multiple Functions
Keywords:Jewish prisoner-physicians, Auschwitz-Birkenau, slave labour, memoirs, Warthegau, medical conduct under extreme conditions
Seeking to demonstrate how the unique perspectives of Jewish prisoner-physicians can yield valuable insight into Nazi camps, this article first examines how scholars have used these medical functionaries’ accounts to inform their portrayal of Auschwitz-Birkenau’s exterminatory capacity and horrific conditions. It subsequently explores how these individuals’ memoirs and legal statements can also speak to the camp’s functions as a labour camp and transit camp. The article reinforces the significance of this relatively obscure prisoner group through an examination of Nazi documents, and it indicates that the prisoner-physicians’ parallel assignments to and experiences in Birkenau and concentration camp subcamps reveal that both institutions were simultaneously engaged in the Nazis’ dual missions of exploiting Jewish labour and annihilating European Jewry.
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