Jewish Doctors and the Holocaust

The Anatomy of Survival in Auschwitz

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Ross W. Halpin
  • Tübingen, Germany: 
    De Gruyter
    , January
     249 pages.
     For other formats: Link to Publisher's Website.


This is the first attempt to explain how Jewish doctors survived extreme adversity in Auschwitz where death could occur at any moment. The ordinary Jewish slave labourer survived an average of fifteen weeks. Ross Halpin discovers that Jewish doctors survived an average of twenty months, many under the same horrendous conditions as ordinary prisoners. Despite their status as privileged prisoners Jewish doctors starved, froze, were beaten to death and executed. Many Holocaust survivors attest that luck, God and miracles were their saviors. The author suggests that surviving Auschwitz was far more complex. Interweaving the stories of Jewish doctors before and during the Holocaust Halpin develops a model that explains the anatomy of survival. According to his model the genesis of survival of extreme adversity is the will to live which must be accompanied by the necessities of life, specific personal traits and defence mechanisms. For survival all four must co-exist.

About the Author(s)/Editor(s)/Translator(s): 

Ross W. Halpin is Visiting Lecturer in Hebrew, Blibical, and Jewish Studies at the University of Sydney.


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