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

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

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

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 (2 Posts)

Contributing Writer

Cleveland Clinic Lerner College of Medicine

Elizabeth is a fourth year medical student who is also concurrently earning her Master of Science in clinical research at Cleveland Clinic Lerner College of Medicine in Cleveland, Ohio. She will graduate in May 2020. In 2014, she graduated from Columbia University with a Bachelor of Arts in biochemistry. She enjoys table tennis, learning the saxophone and writing poetry in her free time. After graduating medical school, Elizabeth would like to pursue a career in otolaryngology.