One of the earliest books about Auschwitz was written by Dr. Miklos Nyiszli and first published in the Hungarian language in a Budapest newspaper from February 16, 1947 through April 5, 1947. My copy of the book, which is entitled Auschwitz, a Doctor’s Eye-Witness Account, was first published in English in 1960. In his book, Dr. Nyiszli describes his work as a pathologist, who assisted Dr. Josef Mengele by doing autopsies for his experiments in the Gypsy Camp at Auschwitz II, aka Birkenau. I also blogged about Dr. Nyiszli’s book here.
Yesterday, I blogged about the experiments allegedly done by Dr. Mengele in Block 10 in the main Auschwitz camp, according to information given to students by a tour guide. Not according to Dr. Nyiszli, who wrote about Dr. Mengele doing medical experiments only at Birkenau. He did not mention that Dr. Mengele worked at the Auschwitz main camp.
On page 31 of his book, Dr. Nyiszli wrote that “Three categories of experiments were performed here (in the Gypsy camp): the first consisted of research into the origin and causes of dual births [...] The second was the search to discover the biological and pathological causes for the birth of dwarfs and giants. And the third was the study of the causes and treatment of a disease commonly called “dry gangrene of the face.” According to Dr. Nyiszli, this disease was “exceptionally rare,” but in the Gypsy Camp, it was “fairly common.” Dr. Nyiszli wrote that “the syphilis rate in the Gypsy Camp was extremely high” and from this it had been deduced that “dry gangrene of the face” was related to “hereditary syphilis.” Other writers refer to this disease as “Noma.”
Dr. Nyiszli wrote that he arrived at Auschwitz on a train with other Jews from Hungary in May 1944; he went through a “selection” at which Dr. Mengele asked for doctors to volunteer to work as doctors. Dr. Nyiszli was the only doctor, out of 50 doctors on that transport, who volunteered.
Because he volunteered to help the Nazi doctors, Dr. Nyiszli was given civilian clothes, and allowed to sleep in the “twelfth hospital barracks,” instead of being put into the quarantine barracks. The twelfth hospital at Birkenau? Yes, Dr. Nyiszli wrote that “The head doctor of barracks hospital number 12 was Dr. Levy, professor at the University of Strasbourg…”