Born in the Polish city of Lodz, Esther F. received her medical training in France and returned to her hometown in 1933. After the outbreak of World War II, she and thousands of other Jews were confined to the Lodz ghetto to work as slave laborers or die of starvation. She was among numerous Jewish physicians whom the Nazis deemed useful, as Mike Cummings writes: Esther survived four-and-a-half years of cold, hunger, and fear in the Lodz ghetto. . . . She worked in a hospital and for the ghetto’s emergency medical service, caring for the injured and sick. There are references in Esther’s testimony, [recorded on video in 1991], about official measures intended to preserve the lives of ghetto doctors—specifically orders to perimeter guards not to shoot people wearing medical insignia, and efforts to transfer additional doctors from the Warsaw ghetto. This suggests “that doctors had value to German officials as possible preservers of their labor force,” noted Sarit Siegel, [who is researching the subject].
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