I know that some people will see the title of the post and will get the shivers. They will think it is going to be a story of indescribable horrors of cruelty. Perhaps a tale of experiments on women in Dachau. They might not even read the rest of the post, because they will not be able to stomach it.
However, this is not such a story.
Erno Weisz was born in 1890 in the small Hungarian town of Nagykallo The son of the local butcher, he completed high school in 1908. Weisz then changed his name to Vadasz, to help avoid exclusion from his studies due to the “numerus clausus” code restricting Jewish students. He excelled in his studies and continued his education in the Medical Faculty of the University of Budapest, graduating in 1913.
By 1930, he was well established as an obstetrician/gynecologist and raised two children with his strictly Orthodox wife. In 1944, the family was deported to Auschwitz.
In February 1945, when the tide of war was turning against the Third Reich, several pregnant Jewish women managed to survive in the concentration camps, together with their newborns.
A very special example was the “Pregnancy Unit” (Schwanger Kommando) in the Kaufering subcamp of Dachau. Malnourished, exhausted, and low
in weight, seven women with growing abdomens had not hidden their secret. Surprisingly, they were not murdered. Instead, they were housed in a barrack and fed by a Jewish Kapo, David Witz, in charge of the kitchen. He recruited Dr. Erno Vadasz, who was a prisoner in the men’s camp, to perform the deliveries of the babies. The heroism of the mothers was complemented by the heroism of Dr. Erno Vadasz
Vadasz was so weak and hungry that he needed a prop to stand up. He asked for soap, a knife, hot water, and towels, as for any delivery. The mothers had been well-fed before the deliveries, and within a few weeks, Vadasz had successfully brought all seven babies into the world even though two of the births were complicated.
Following the deliveries, one of the mothers developed pneumonia. Vadasz sat next to her as she lay, semi-conscious for two weeks, and cared for both mother and child, sharing his food until she recovered. He also managed to save a young girl from the crematorium, whom he recognized from his town. The last baby he delivered was born one day after the demolition of the crematorium, on April 29, 1945.
Following the camp’s liberation, the doctor learned that his entire family had been murdered. He was never rewarded or recognized for the lives of the babies he delivered. He returned to his hometown and restarted the practice he loved, marrying a nurse from Dachau – but he refused to have children for fear of what might happen to them, the authors wrote. He died in 1957 from prostate cancer. The picture at the top post-war picture of Dr. Erno Vadasz with the Daughter of a Patient.