A last few words to honor you, the Jewish doctors. What canI tell you, my beloved colleagues and companions in misery? You are a part of all of us. Slavery, hunger, deportation, thosedeath figures in our ghetto were also your legacy. And you byyour work could give the henchman the answer Non omnis moriar, I shall not wholly die. (Dr. Israel Milejkowski, Director, Judenrat Health Department in the Warsaw Ghetto, October 1942)
White Coats in the Ghetto narrates the struggle of the Jews to survive in the Warsaw ghetto while also preserving their humanity during the Holocaust. Based on a vast quantity of official and personal documents, it describes the elaborate medical system that the Jews established in the ghetto to cope with the lethal conditions imposed on them by the Nazis, and the tragic ethical dilemmas that the medical teams confronted under German occupation. The book traces within a broad historical context the actions of the approximately 800 brave Jewish physicians, nurses, and other practitioners who strived to maintain the health of the Jewish population while risking their lives fighting two wars—against the Nazis and the death sentence that they imposed on the ghetto residents; and against the spread of epidemics. At the same time that the medical personnel contended with daunting professional and ethical challenges, they miraculously managed to conduct unique research on the diseases that they treated, and also to establish an underground medical school to train a new generation of Jewish physicians at great personal risk. In this pioneering study, Miriam Offer examines the unparalleled phenomenon of the establishment of the Jewish medical system in the Warsaw ghetto and in other ghettos during the Holocaust, and proposes historical explanations for its unique characteristics, shedding light on an important yet relatively unexplored subject that will be of great interest to both the medical community and the general public alike.