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Warsaw Ghetto Doctors Research Starvation


Jewish scientists and doctors in the Warsaw ghetto collected data on their starving patients, hoping to discover better ways to treat malnutrition, and expose Nazi atrocities. Their research was smuggled out of the ghetto and buried in the cemetery of the Warsaw hospital. After the war, the manuscript was dug up and taken to one of the few surviving authors, Dr. Emil Apfelbaum, who worked with the American Joint Distribution Committee to publish a book with six surviving articles and photos taken in the ghetto. Maladie de Famine (“The Disease of Starvation: Clinical Research on Starvation in the Warsaw Ghetto in 1942”) was disseminated to hospitals, medical schools, libraries and universities across the U.S.

The book was rediscovered in 2022 in the basement of a Tufts University library by two professors of nutrition at the university. “The team’s act of resistance through science was its way to wring something good out of an evil situation, to show the world the quality of the Jewish doctor, but mostly to defy the Nazis’ intent to erase their existence,” said professors Merry Fitzpatrick and Irwin Rosenberg.

Source: Merry Fitzpatrick and Irwin Rosenberg, “Warsaw Ghetto’s defiant Jewish doctors secretly documented the medical effects of Nazi starvation policies in a book recently rediscovered on a library shelf,” The Conversation, (July 19, 2022).