Berlin Jews Appeal for Aid to Jewish Communities Abroad; Medicines Urgently Needed
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Berlin Jews Appeal for Aid to Jewish Communities Abroad; Medicines Urgently Needed

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Leaders of the few thousand Jews remaining in Berlin today appealed to Jewish communities abroad to send them assistance, especially medical supplies. The appeal was made by Dr. Erich Zwilsky, head of the Jewish Hospital here, which has become an informal center for Jewish matters.

The greatest problems, aside from the financial ones, which face the hospital in its attempt to care for the Jews returning from concentration camps and others in need of help are the shortage of doctors and nurses and the lack of medicaments. There are now ten doctors in the hospital, but they lack instruments and medicines, which has reduced their usefullness.

During the first days of the Russian ocoupation, before order was restored, the hospital was not excluded from the general looting, and many beds, linens and drugs were lost. The X-ray apparatus, however, is intact, although no films are available, and there is a small quantity of radium on hand. The building itself requires urgent repairs, because of bomb damages, but the Berlin city council has refused to grant funds for the repairs.

Dr. Zwilsky, who was familiar with all the misery of the Berlin Jews under the Nazis, since the Jewish Hospital was the only institution allowed to treat them, said that about 2,000 committed suicide, between 1938 and the time the city was captured, to avoid deportation. On one day, he said, twenty-two suicides were brought to the hospital.


In March of this year, just a few weeks before the capital capitulated, Dr. Zwilsky said, an order was given for the complete liquidation of the hospital, and all its staff, but for some reason the order was never carried out. Why the hospital was allowed to operate during the last few years, while millions of Jews were being killed in concentration camps, seems destined to remain a mystery. The only possible explanation that Dr. Zwilsky could offer was that the branch of the Gestapo dealing with Jewish affairs was a far-flung organization with thousands of employees, all of whom wanted to avoid army service. In order to have a reason for their existence, it was necessary to allow some Jewish institutions to keep going.

In the last few years the hospital was not in a position to adequately care for even the pitiful number of Jews left in Berlin. Three of its four buildings were taken over by the Gestapo. One was used as a mobilization center for Jews being sent to concentration camps, one was a Wehrmacht hospital and the surgery was converted into a tailor shop.

Although a strict guard was kept over the Jewish Hospital, its doctors were occasionally able to save Jews from deportation by inducing fever or other symptoms, the hospital head revealed. Sometimes, however, the Gestapo insisted on transporting even stretcher cases to camps.

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