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Chapter 24

The Revier (Sick-Bay)


Seldom was there such a concentration of medical talent in one place as there was in the Revier in Dachau. Physicians from more than forty countries - themselves also prisoners - were working in the Krankenrevier (Sick-Bay) during the war, where sick and healthy prisoners were admitted. In addition there were dozens of German physicians who kept themselves busy with medical experiments on prisoners.


The pseudo-hospital did not exist as much for the well-being of the prisoners as for the unreasonable fear the SS had for communicable diseases.


The sick laid on the same bunks as everyone else and received the same food. Only by great exception, and only when prescribed, someone received breikost, a thin porridge of uncertain ingredients, that somehow was more nourishing than the soup and water with carrots that all the others received.


The camp underwent several epidemics during its existence. The bad food an unhygienic circumstances were mostly to blame. Almost all prisoners suffered from dysentery, which caused a lot of deaths. During the fierce winter of 1940, there were a lot of cases of scurvy which was suppressed vigorously. In the first months of 1943 there was a large outbreak of salmonella; by the end of 1943 and the beginning of 1944, there were hundreds of victims of a deadly outbreak of typhus.


Because of the rapidly growing camp population and the worsening living conditions the number of sick increased and the Revier had to be expanded constantly. In 1941 only barracks three through seven were used; in 1945 almost half of the camp was being used.


Physicians and nurses did their best to care for their sick fellow prisoners, but because there was a lack of almost everything that is necessary in a hospital, their efforts had very few results. Many patients who would have been cured under normal circumstances lost their lives in Dachau. Others remained invalids for the rest of their lives.