Dachau: The Harrowing of Hell

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SUNY Press, 1995 - History - 291 pages
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Marcus Smith was the sole medical officer attached to a small displaced person (DP) team that was sent to the Dachau concentration camp the day after it was liberated by Allied troops and several days before the shocking conditions of the camp were publicized throughout the world.

Several years after his experience at Dachau, believing that we must never forget what happened, Smith unearthed his notes and the daily letters he wrote to his wife and used them as source materials for Dachau: The Harrowing of Hell. From the perspective of a young physician, Smith describes his experiences, shedding light on the immense difficulties and complexities of the large-scale tasks the small DP team completed, against great odds, to combat epidemic diseases and starvation and repatriate the former prisoners. Smith also describes some of the people the team tried to help--men, women, and children from all walks of life, of many nationalities and religions. Smith tells his moving story objectively, with simplicity and grace.

While this book is the story of man's inhumanity to man, it is more than an account of Nazi persecution. It is about how Smith, whose previous experience had not prepared him for the immense horror of what he encountered at Dachau, quickly became a public health expert; how a small team improvised relief and combated a typhus epidemic; and how the soldiers of different countries had to get along with each other while dealing with the prejudices of some of the displaced people they were trying to help.

 

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Contents

Back to School
3
The Dragons Teeth
19
Increased Resistance
25
DP Team 115
31
The Journey
35
The First Camp
39
The Indigenous Authority
40
The Slaves
48
The Last Days of Dachau
140
Dr Ali Kuci
147
Dachau The Turning Point
151
Friction
153
Good News and Bad News
169
Research
176
The Warehouses
180
The Rabbits the Plantage the Chapel and the Women
187

The Russians
52
Population Changes
56
Dusty Days
61
New Orders
66
Camaraderie
70
Dachau The First Week 3
75
Liberation
77
Priorities
94
The Famishd People
99
Camp Fever
108
The IPC the Visitors and the Pigs
118
The Burial Detail
129
Complaint Department
200
Homeward Bound
213
The Townspeople
219
Vacation
223
Departure
233
Afterword
245
Loose Ends
251
The Special Prisoners
266
Postscript 1972
273
References and Notes
279
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About the author (1995)

Marcus J. Smith, a radiologist in private practice in Santa Fe, New Mexico between 1948 and 1976, was awarded the Bronze Star for his work at Dachau in May 1945; a month later, he was promoted to Captain. He served on the editorial board of the Rocky Mountain Medical Journal and its successor, the Western Journal of Medicine. He is the author of Error and Variation in Diagnostic Radiology, and during the last ten years before his death, researched and wrote about the history of medicine in New Mexico.

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