The camp hospital of KL Auschwitz

The Auschwitz concentration camp was a huge mix of people from different countries. People who fell ill suffered accidents at work or died. In both situations, a doctor should have taken care of them. It was one of the reasons why the camp hospital was set up in KL Auschwitz.

The first infirmary was established in the second half of June 1940. Along with the expansion and the influx of prisoners, the hospital part was also enlarged. Ultimately, in the main camp itself, it occupied 4 blocks and was divided into „departments”: internal medicine, infectious diseases, a surgical block, and a convalescence block. There were territories in the sub-camps to help the sick on an ad hoc basis.

Due to the hygienic and sanitary conditions and the number of prisoners, the diseases spread very quickly. Moreover, excessive work, physical exhaustion, and hunger favoured infections and the development of seemingly harmless diseases. The quantity and quality of food contributed to diseases of the digestive system. Living conditions and workplaces caused diseases of the genitourinary system, as well as numerous frostbites. The hospital, as far as conditions allowed, as well as the staff, tried to help the prisoners at least a little. However, it was difficult because prisoners often suffered from several diseases at the same time. It was then not possible to prevent the outbreak of the typhus epidemic that appeared a in the camp in 1942. It is an extremely contagious illness, transmitted by lice. The disease, as well as its complications, are serious and often lead to death.

The hospital, however, served one more purpose: quasi-medical experiments on camp prisoners. Mostly on children, especially twins, pregnant women, but also on ordinary inmates. The „doctors” checked how the organisms reacted to various diseases, whether it was possible to deprive the trawl of fertility, change the colour of the iris of the eye, and whether twins responded equally to various diseases. Often subjected to experiments, they died in agony or were permanently mutilated.

Of course, the medics from the camp also signed the death certificates of millions of people, including those they had sent to their deaths. How? Doctors from the camp often tried various methods of killing prisoners and patients. Phenol injections and Zyklon B turned out to be the most effective. Those who had adverse medical selection: mentally and physically disabled people, the very sick, or the elderly, also went to death. However, they could not enter the actual causes of deaths. Hence it is known that the medical records in the camp were being falsified. The issued medical documentation contained such information that it could be concluded that the patients were under the exemplary care of very qualified doctors, and the deaths were caused by very serious and incurable diseases. The dates of death were also falsified, especially when large groups of prisoners were killed at one time.

For some prisoners, the hospital was also a springboard, thanks to which, despite the terrible conditions, they could rest mentally from the camp drama and backbreaking physical labour, despite the fact that the sick received even smaller rations than the working ones.

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