Oral History

US nurse Pat Lynch describes caring for starving and critically ill camp survivors

Pat was one of thousands of US nurses who served in evacuation hospitals during the liberation of concentration camps in Europe. She cared for camp survivors, many of whom were in critical condition upon liberation.


Well, starting IVs was almost impossible because here they were starving, and if you start shooting fluid in, and...it would be just a little bit too much in the heart and lungs, you know, start shooting all that in them. Here they...they hadn't...they couldn't even swallow. But we started IVs very, very carefully, and very slowly. But we fed them with medicine droppers, and then I'd try to prop them up, and...if you give them a little piece of a cracker or something, that wouldn't go down. And, uh, they hadn't swallowed anything for so long, but I used to rub this way, give them a little bit on a spoon, a little fluid, and then rub this way, and, and then finally get it...get them to swallow it, but uh... They had big old bowls of...I don't know what, some kind of soup, sitting around, like the pretense of feeding them, big old wooden bowls and a big tablespoon. Well they were too weak to reach over and pick up that spoon, and they couldn't get it in their mouth anyway, 'cause their mouth was just kind of set and drawn, and so they couldn't have opened their mouth to eat whatever this...I think it had been there about three days.


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