Tag Archives: holocaust

Conner, TD. Nazi Medical Experiments

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Nazism cursed the European continent and tried to dominate the world. It was a racist dogma established and enforced by ruthless bullies and brutal criminals. Before Adolf Hitler was crushed, 60 million people died. Nazis murdered people around the clock on their treadmills-of-death after developing fast, modern ways to kill large masses of human beings quickly. They extended their cruelties into the realm of medicine, grinning doctors–many of them once distinguished professors with advanced degrees– torturing thousands, including children, to death in grisly ways in filthy back rooms in the many Nazi camps or in special murder “clinics.” This book discusses some of the hideous crimes against humanity they committed, all with a clear conscience and without a second thought. There is also a section on medical “experiments” and atrocities carried out, even in the days of the 21st Century, in a developed country near you.

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Ligocka, Roma. The Girl In The Red Coat

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Roma Ligocka has lived multiple lives over the last fifty years – artist, theatrical designer, bohemian nomad, political activist, wife, mother – but she was first ‘the girl in the red coat’ . Famously picked out in red in the black and white footage of Spielberg’s ‘Schindler’s List’ it was only when she saw the image of herself on screen that she realised the extent of her failure to come to terms with the anguish of her childhood. This powerful memoir revisits the horror of her early years and reveals how far its effects have reached throughout her life. Leading an apparently successful life, she has nonetheless often been at the mercy of depressions. Now, after 50 years, she is able to write about honestly examining the scars of a traumatic childhood and getting past sorrow while still acknowledging the truth of the past.

Publisher: Sceptre
Year: 2003
ISBN-10: 0340819073

Levi, Primo. If this is a Man

Janine Henderson HYMS: Wonderful narrative of Levi`s time in Auschwitz which departs from what you might expect in that it is not a detailed account of his own suffering but much more a kind of anthropological observation of man`s behaviour under duress. He manages to be almost entirely non-judgmental, despite the atrocities which he is witnessing and experiencing, trying to understand the behaviours of his fellow men in the context which creates them. Despite his  apparent positivity, Levi died 40 years later in what many assume was a suicidal fall down a stairwell. Wonderful quote from fellow survivor Elie Weisel “Primo Levi died at Auschwitz forty years earlier.”

Publisher: Abacus
ISBN-10: 0349100136

Levi, Primo. The Periodic Table

A chemist by training, Primo Levi became one of the supreme witnesses to twentieth-century atrocity. In these haunting reflections inspired by the elements of the periodic table, he ranges from young love to political savagery; from the inert gas argon – and ‘inert’ relatives like the uncle who stayed in bed for twenty-two years – to life-giving carbon. ‘Iron’ honours the mountain-climbing resistance hero who put iron in Levi’s student soul, ‘Cerium’ recalls the improvised cigarette lighters which saved his life in Auschwitz, while ‘Vanadium’ describes an eerie post-war correspondence with the man who had been his ‘boss’ there. All are written with characteristically understated eloquence and shot through with deep humanity.

Publisher: Penguin Classics
Year: 2000
ISBN: 0141185147

(afraid Hull currently only has in the original Italian
“Il sistema periodico”, but you are a cosmopolitan bunch.)

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This was the first book I read by Primo Levi, it is a real mix. Each chapter has the title of an element, and develops (loosely) round that topic. If you find one chapter ‘heavy’ (the first one can seem a bit dull on first read) try another, they are all free-standing and all very different. I just re-read the chapter on ‘carbon’ that simply tells the life-story of a carbon atom. I don’t think this is Levi’s best work – his writing on his time in Auschwitz ‘If this is a Man’ is, for me, one of
the last century’s truly great books – but, sticking to our brief of the suggestions for where art throws lights on science and medicine I think its the best fit for ‘Worth a Look?’

Amis, M. Time’s Arrow

 

Steven Oliver HYMS: Everything runs backwards in this short book – from the central character’s ‘birth’ surrounded by doctors to his descent into the confusion of early life. There is humour here, but it is also a very challenging book. The clinician we encounter in New York eventually works back to be the doctor in Auschwitz curing patients by extracting phenol from their hearts. From a consultation that runs in reverse (from prescription to a patient walking away and knocking on the door), to a completely different way of thinking about the terrible actions of some doctors in Nazi Germany this is a book that forces you to think.

Publisher: Vintage
Year: 2003
ISBN: 0099455358

(spoiler alert)