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Refuge in Hell: How Berlin's Jewish Hospital Outlasted the Nazisby Daniel B Silver
Synopses & Reviews
How did Berlin's Jewish Hospital, in the middle of the Nazi capital, survive as an institution where Jewish doctors and nurses cared for Jewish patients throughout World War II? How could it happen that when Soviet troops liberated the hospital in April 1945, they found some eight hundred Jews still on the premises? Daniel Silver carefully uncovers the often surprising answers to these questions and, through the skillful use of primary source materials and the vivid voices of survivors, reveals the underlying complexities of human conscience.
The story centers on the intricate machinations of the hospital's director, Herr Dr. Lustig, a German-born Jew whose life-and-death power over medical staff and patients and finely honed relationship with his own boss, the infamous Adolf Eichmann, provide vital pieces to the puzzle — some have said the miracle — of the hospital's survival. Silver illuminates how the tortured shifts in Nazi policy toward intermarriage and so-called racial segregation provided a further, if hugely counterintuitive, shelter from the storm for the hospital's resident Jews. Scenes of daily life in the hospital paint an often heroic and always provocative picture of triage at its most chillingly existential. Not since Schindler's List have we had such a haunting story of the costs and mysteries of individual survival in the midst of a human-created hell.
"The amazing story of this mini-Gulag Archipelago puzzled Daniel B. Silver for years, and, after retiring from a career as an attorney in the legal department of the CIA, having examined thousands of papers and interviewed the survivors of the institution, he has in Refuge in Hell given an account that is troubling and fascinating in about equal measure. Silver was not the first to be intrigued by this story; much spade-work had already been done by German and Israeli researchers. His intention is not to present a full-fledged history of the hospital, but rather to answer two central questions — what were the reasons for the survival of the institution and what was the real role of Dr Lustig, the director of the hospital and the confidant of the Gestapo? Lustig was also the nominal head of what remained of German Jewry after 1943 and he has entered history as a despicable traitor and arch-villain. Silver is not a professional writer, but the story he tells is of such absorbing interest that weaknesses of presentation and style are of little significance." Walter Laqueur, Times Literary Supplement (read the entire TLS review)
"[A] fascinating footnote to Holocaust history that staggers the imagination . . . one that Silver captures with all due astonishment." Kirkus Reviews
Book News Annotation:
A veteran of the US National Security and Central Intelligence agencies, Silver discovered that the facts about the hospital, though unknown to the general public, were well documented and known to specialists in the experience of German Jews during the Nazi regime and World War II. He and others set out to explain how it survived, drawing largely on the memory of people who were there. Annotation (c)2003 Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (booknews.com)
In 1945, when the Red Army liberated Berlin, they found in the Nazi capital a functioning Jewish hospital. In Refuge in Hell, Daniel B. Silver explores the many quirks of fortune and history that made the hospital's survival possible. His engrossing account of this little-known slice of history "reads like a novel imbued with the richness of a strong narrative and the depth of compelling characters" (Forward).
Not since Schindler's List has there been such a wrenching story of personal sacrifice and triumph. Silver's narrative centers on the intricate machinations of the hospital's director, Dr. Lustig, a German-born Jew who managed to keep the Gestapo at bay throughout the war, in part because of his power over his staff and patients and his finely honed relationship with the infamous Adolf Eichmann.
Includes bibliographical references (p. -283) and index.
About the Author
Dan Silver has a law degree and a PhD in cultural anthropology from Harvard, and has been General Counsel of the National Security Agency and from 1979 - 1981 General Counsel of the CIA. He is an active member in Washington DC's largest conservative Jewish congregation and lives in Chevy Chase, MD.
Table of Contents
Contents Preface ix 1. Nichts Juden. Juden Kaputt 1 2. The Hospital and the Berlin Jews 14 3. The Beginning of the End, 193841 31 4. The Nazis Intermarriage Quandary 46 5. The Deportations 59 6. The Assault on the Gemeinde and the Hospital, 194243 77 7. Making a Life for Oneself in the Hospital 93 8. The Factory Raid and the Frauenprotest 119 9. The Continued Assault on the Hospital 140 10. Prisoners and Survivors 159 11. TheWork of the Reichsvereinigung and the Hospital, 194245 177 12. The Twilight of the Nazis 190 13. The Trial of Dr. Dr. Lustig and Other Questions 209 Afterword 242 Notes 253 Bibliography 279 Glossary 284 Acknowledgments 290 Index 296
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