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The Doctor He Became: Reflections on a Nazi Concentration Camp Doctor


He remembered the days
his hands were used
only
to heal, comfort
and mend. Now
he looked down at palms
stained scarlet,

And saw
grotesque apparitions,
whose lungs
still
cry for air;
whose voices
unceasingly plead
for the mercy
he never
gave;

And
whose maimed bodies trudge
wearily across
the sleepless nights
of his tormented existence.

He wondered how
he hadn’t noticed the moment
his fingers had
morphed imperceptibly
into weapons of hate.

He pondered how
right and wrong had become
as indistinguishable as the twins
he had sent to Mengele;
their frail bruised bodies
saved from the ovens;
saved for much worse.

He thought of two children
who baked bread
for a father who battered bodies;
who were oblivious
to the putrid smoke
rising in the distance.

And he shuddered
at the man
and doctor
he had become.

Elizabeth Shay Elizabeth Shay (1 Posts)

Contributing Writer

Cleveland Clinic Lerner College of Medicine


Elizabeth is a second-year medical student at Cleveland Clinic Lerner College of Medicine. She graduated from Columbia University in 2014, after which she spent a gap year in her native Jamaica, prior to beginning medical school.