The Jewish Doctors of the Camps and Ghettos

June 20 2019

Born in the Polish city of Lodz, Esther F. received her medical training in France and returned to her hometown in 1933. After the outbreak of World War II, she and thousands of other Jews were confined to the Lodz ghetto to work as slave laborers or die of starvation. She was among numerous Jewish physicians whom the Nazis deemed useful, as Mike Cummings writes:

Esther survived four-and-a-half years of cold, hunger, and fear in the Lodz ghetto. . . . She worked in a hospital and for the ghetto’s emergency medical service, caring for the injured and sick. There are references in Esther’s testimony, [recorded on video in 1991], about official measures intended to preserve the lives of ghetto doctors—specifically orders to perimeter guards not to shoot people wearing medical insignia, and efforts to transfer additional doctors from the Warsaw ghetto. This suggests “that doctors had value to German officials as possible preservers of their labor force,” noted Sarit Siegel, [who is researching the subject].

Supporting the labor force was not the ghetto doctors’ only function; [they] also served to minimize the risk of transmission of epidemics from the ghetto inhabitants to the populations beyond the ghetto’s boundaries.

[In addition], Nazi officials required Jewish doctors to perform medical examinations on people on deportation lists to determine whether they would be sent to a forced-labor camp or to Chelmno, an extermination camp located about 30 miles northwest of Lodz . . . .

When the Germans closed the ghetto in 1944, Esther was sent to Auschwitz, and from there to a forced-labor camp in Guben, Germany, where she tended to the Jewish slave laborers there:

Esther . . . kept two sets of records: one that recorded patients’ actual condition, which she kept hidden, and another that concealed the degree of their illness, which she would provide to a German doctor who oversaw her work. “The majority had tuberculosis and I didn’t know if [the German doctor] should know it,” Esther said. The deception potentially saved people’s lives because German health officials may have dispatched tuberculosis patients to their deaths.

After liberation, Esther went to Sweden, where she tended to other survivors, and thereafter settled in New York, where she married and worked as a pediatrician.

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More about: Holocaust, Medicine, Polish Jewry

The Evidence of BDS Anti-Semitism Speaks for Itself

Oct. 18 2019

Israel’s Ministry of Strategic Affairs recently released a lengthy report titled Behind the Mask, documenting the varieties of naked anti-Semitic rhetoric and imagery employed by the movement to boycott, divest from, and sanction the Jewish state (BDS). Drawn largely but not exclusively from Internet sources, its examples range from a tweet by a member of Students for Justice in Palestine (the “world would be soooo much better without jews man”), to an enormous inflated pig bearing a star of David and floating behind the stage as the rock musician Roger Waters performs, to accusations by an influential anti-Israel blogger that Israel is poisoning Palestinian wells. Cary Nelson sums up the report’s conclusions and their implications, all of which give the lie to the disingenuous claim that critics of BDS are trying to brand “legitimate criticism of Israel” as anti-Semitic.

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More about: Anti-Semitism, BDS, Roger Waters, Social media