Typhus – The Phantom Disease

by Otto Humm

Of the numerous eyewitness reports on the concentration camps and alleged extermination sites of the Third Reich, one often finds reports by former inmates describing atrocities committed by SS personnel while these witnesses were hospitalised in the camp’s hospitals due to a severe typhus infection. The best known example may be that of Jacob Freimark who, while recuperating from typhus in the hospital of the concentration camp of Auschwitz,[1] claimed to have seen numerous murders committed by an SS man. It ought to be uncontested that typhus epidemics occurred frequently in many camps of the Third Reich, the Bergen-Belsen and Auschwitz camps probably being the best known examples. Thousands of inmates and also members of the camp personnel became ill, and many of them eventually succumbed to the disease.typhusThe reason for the horror in the German camps at the end of World War II can hardly be better explained than by this photo of the British guard post at the entrance to the liberated, yet still contained Bergen-Belsen camp.[2]As a physician experienced in the diagnosis and therapy of this ailment, I noticed the time correlation between severe outbreaks of this disease and the alleged experiences of such fantastic atrocities of the SS, so that I will be more explicit on the symptoms of the disease in this report.Until the last century, typhus (also known as war fever, tabardillo, European typhus, jail fever) and dysentery killed more people during any war than did wounds inflicted by armed conflict. After 1914, typhus could basically be controlled through annual vaccinations in the German army.A typical symptom of European typhus is the patient’s marked psychosis at the peak of the illness, a state of incessant state of delirium.[3] Typhus comes from the Greek “t uj o s ” meaning stupor, referring to the frenzy developed by the sick.As a specialist for internal medicine, I encountered only a few cases of typhus, which were all mild due to vaccination, while serving at the military hospital (no. 2/529) in Russia. Dialogue cured the convalescents from their illusions. After the war, I often treated cases of typhus, albeit antibiotics existed at this time, which curbed the development of the disease so that the once common state of stupor did not occur.I do not know whether inmates of concentration camps were immunized against typhus. Should this not have been the case, then the outbreak of the disease would have led to the gravest delirious form. The occurring stupor has a specially characteristic, and it would certainly be most interesting for historiography to investigate a possible relation between the origin of certain eyewitness reports and this typhus symptom, since those hundreds or even thousands of ailing inmates in the camp’s hospital section certainly had little hope of adequate medical care, quite in contrast to those patients who my colleagues and I had treated. I therefore quote here a longer excerpt from the case study of a physician, who was on duty in a specialized hospital at the eastern front during WW II and who treated severe cases of typhus and who described symptoms vividly.

Read Prof. Dr. Hans Kilian: The Phantom Disease at link below.

Source: Typhus – The Phantom Disease

Published in: on January 25, 2017 at 9:26 am  Leave a Comment  

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