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Medical Personnel panel

Film | Accession Number: USHMM Records 2001.136 | RG Number: RG-60.3804 | Film ID: 2646

Hadassah Rosensaft chairs the Medical panel, introduces topic of doctors and medics in the camp system and in the liberation process. 13:19:30 CU, Hadassah Rosensaft in coral, with laryngitis. She is a survivor of Bergen-Belsen. 13:21:49 Reads apology from British army doctor for not being there. Introduces first speaker Prof. Leo Eitinger, psychiatrist, member of Norwegian delegation, and Auschwitz survivor. 13:22:58 Discusses medical doctors in camps. Camera pans around audience. 13:25:22 He worked as a prison doctor in the infirmary of a sub-camp in Auschwitz. Speaks of the importance of doctors and gives example of patient stories. 13:30:07 Talks of cruelty of guards systems of values of prisoners, especially doctors. Doctors cared about other prisoners more than themselves. 13:33:30 Prisoners saying they were seriously ill, thinking they would get an easier ride, not realizing they were going straight to the gas chambers. 13:35:37 Denying death could be life saving. (p. 56 "Liberation of Camps")

13:36:58 Chairwoman introduces next speaker: Mrs. Marie Ellifritz, a nurse in the U.S. Army. Went to Mauthausen 3 days after liberation, stayed 8 weeks. 13:37:27 Discusses her experience, talks of emotions involved on the job, trauma. 13:39:05 Had a tremendous job ahead, to sort dead from living, giving blankets, water, food, shelter, pajamas, etc. 13:40:15 Nurses got physically sick from dysentery, and sickness of the heart form what they saw. 13:41:02 "Survival was always name of the game." First time saw naked men, couldn't control reaction, embarrassed, prisoners however were incapable of reacting. 13:42:00 Convincing prisoners they were really free. Describes the liberation process - rumors of liberation, gates open, how long does it take for reality to become meaningful to each of you? Some too close to death to be able to accept enormity of final freedom. 13:43:29 Both sides struggling to take in what's happening - inmates and liberators. Both hearing rumors. 13:44:38 Wanting to tell everyone about the horrors, but people thought she was losing her mind telling such stories. Repression came quickly. She blows her nose. 13:46:02 In 1977, she returned to Mauthausen. Describes going back, found peace with herself. 13:46:46 Discovering love there, starts crying. Wants to know about lives of survivors - medical effects, psychological, jobs, how long live, post-traumatic effect. 13:48:36 Prays for love, peace, crying. Applause. (p. 58 "Liberation of Camps")

13:49:15 Chairwoman introduces Dr. Douglas Kelling, American psychiatrist, Dachau liberator. 13:49:42 He describes Dachau - conditions, prisoners, confusion in camp, bodies, showers. CU, H. Rosensaft looking distressed. 13:52:35 Describes smell of bodies, furnaces, shooting of inmates. Medical problems - typhus, carried by lice. 270 patients died each day from typhus. Speaks of different causes of death. 13:54:42 Prisoners in charge when he entered camp. Prisoners not believing what was happening. 13:55:37 Still had self-esteem and pride. Inmates foremost thought was finding their friends and family, but their hometowns were probably destroyed, and relatives in camps or killed. This led to depression. Physically weak, but mentally strong to endure what they went through. 13:57:20 Prisoners were naturally angry at their captors. 13:58:07 Thought of getting out of camp probably suppressed by some abnormal mental states and thoughts of immediate time being. 13:58:54 Applause. (p. 61 "Liberation of Camps")

13:59:02 Chairwoman introduces Dr. George Tievsky, from Washington D.C., served in 66th field hospital, liberated Dachau - there for 6 weeks. 13:59:27 Gives his background prior to going to Dachau - seen drug addiction and malnutrition. Describes field hospitals and their use prior to liberation. 14:01:28 Went to sub-camp of Dachau. Describes setup of field hospital. Not enough medical personnel. Wrote letters to his now wife. 14:03:15 Reads letter (Jan. 4, 1945) describing situation and conditions in Dachau. Typhus - goes into great detail. 14:07:13 Starvation and other medical issues he dealt with. Medical terminology and graphic details of what they suffered. 14:09:39 Primary problem was feeding patients and administrating vitamins. 14:09:51 When Army realized patients weren't GIs they refused to provide food and medicine. Tievsky describes what he had to feed them and the effects. 14:10:53 "For 6 years we waited for the Americans to come, are we to die of hunger now?" He described the guilt, anger, and helplessness of not being able to help more. 14:11:25 By the time he left there was adequate food but it was difficult to get medicines. 14:11:39 Refers back in time to some of his female patients. 14:14:07 Describes meeting Dr. Joseph Heller, the chief doctor in Jewish section of camp. Out of 164 doctors in compound, there were only 59 survivors one year later. Heller had no medicine, chimney sweep smuggled it in for him. Heller walked 10 miles at night to do an operation on patient. Heller doing rounds with Tievsky. 14:16:54 Heller sees himself in mirror for the first time in years. 14:17:24 Describes saying farewell to patients at Dachau, before he went to Japan: "Time will pass and it will be over soon." One of they said "Yes…that is what she told me when we ruled the freight cars, for days and that is what she said all the months in the concentration camp." "Jews will always live" added the first. 14:18:16 Applause. (p. 62 "Liberation of Camps")

14:18:31 H. Rosensaft opens up floor for questions to the panel. 3 people stand forward with their experiences in camp. 14:26:34 Chairwoman interrupts saying this time is for questions. 14:27 Were medical personnel briefed? No. 14:28:14 Were there psychiatric problems of liberators? Physical illness overran mental issues at the time of liberation. 14:29:19 Chairwoman thanks everyone, talks of self-sacrifice and human devotion to the prison doctors had. People break, mix, chat.

Genre
Unedited
Duration
01:12:51
Event Date
10/27/1981
Locale
Washington, DC, United States
Language
English
Genre/Form
Unedited.
Credit
United States Holocaust Memorial Museum
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Record last modified: 2018-04-26 13:45:08
This page: https://collections.ushmm.org/search/catalog/irn1002698