From Publishers Weekly
Silver, a lawyer and former general counsel to the CIA, tells the astonishing story of Berlin's Jewish Hospital during WWII. For decades before the Nazis seized power in Germany, the hospital had served Berlin's Jews as their principal medical resource. At the war's end, it was still functioning, delivering what medical care it could and sheltering a large percentage of the city's few remaining Jews. Silver asks how a Jewish institution, located in the capital city of a regime dedicated above all to obliterating the Jews, could possibly have survived. To answer this question, Silver has gathered the available documentary evidence and interviewed the handful of hospital staffers still alive. According to these sources, the institution's survival hinged on an amalgam of factors, including sheer, blind luck and bureaucratic infighting among Nazi organizations. As Silver explains, the Nazis' bizarre system for classifying persons of partly Jewish ancestry played a role as well, since some hospital personnel with mixed ancestry were not treated with the same implacable hostility as full Jews were. Silver acknowledges where gaps in the evidence make certainty impossible, as in assessing Dr. Walter Lustig, the hospital's chief during the war years. Lustig may have been a betrayer and collaborator, as some staffers think, or he may have manipulated the system as best he could to save at least some Jews from destruction. The balanced analysis of Dr. Lustig's record typifies the author's careful use of evidence throughout this absorbing book.
Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information, Inc.
When Soviet troops liberated the Jewish Hospital in Berlin in April 1945, they found 800 Jewish doctors, nurses, and patients that had survived there during World War II. The hospital's director was Dr. Walter Lustig, a German-born Jew, who had been baptized and married an Aryan woman. His ties to the notorious Adolf Eichmann were the reason that the hospital remained open. Lustig compiled lists of Jews--both staff members and patients--for deportation to concentration camps. He was later executed by the Soviets, purportedly for collaborating with the Nazis. Much of the book centers on the complex character of Lustig and whether he should be lauded for keeping many of the Jews alive or condemned for sending many of them to their deaths. Silver was able to locate and interview a number of survivors. He also relied on the work of scholars who had researched the history of the hospital. The result is a graphic account of a little-known episode in the Holocaust. George CohenCopyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved