Oral History

US nurse Pat Lynch describes treating survivors in a subcamp of Dachau

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.


First of all you try to get...many of the patients were dead. And, of course, they were removing them, you know, right away. And we'd try to get the sickest ones first, get them cleaned up and get them outside, get them out of bed. And take care of them. And if there's any way that they had any flesh at all under the skin, we'd inject water. They call it hypodermoclysis. Sometimes in the shoulder there'd be a little fatty tissue there, muscle, then we'd inject some water into them because they were all dehydrated. And, uh, trying to feed them. And, uh, did I tell you about the men, those people whose feet were so terribly bad, they were all cut up. They wore wooden shoes and no stockings. Well there were a lot of people whose feet were just terrible. So we took care of those. And, uh, oh, I bandaged them up and put A+D Ointment or whatever I could find on them, and little two by four bandages, and get clean socks on them, and uh... But taking care of these patients who hadn't...were starving and had typhus--there wasn't any specific medication for typhus so we'd just use supportive treatment. We concocted some kind of...all we had was powdered milk and some, uh, canned vegetables. And so the fellows in the mess hall would try to make some real...oh, some kind of soup. They'd put the vegetables in the powdered milk and they'd try to feed them that. But if we'd get water down them and, uh, get the temperature down, that was the important thing 'cause there was nothing specific for typhus at that time.


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