The Dentist of Auschwitz


Genre Science, Education

Year 2014

ISBN: 9780813190129

Language English

Volume book: Full version

In 1941 Berek Jakubowicz (now Benjamin Jacobs) was deported from his Polish village and remained a prisoner of the Reich until the final days of the war. His possession of a few dental tools and rudimentary skills saved his life. Jacobs helped assemble V1 and V2 rockets in Buchenwald and Dora-Mittelbau; spent a year and a half in Auschwitz, where he was forced to remove gold teeth from corpses; and survived the RAF attack on three ocean liners turned prison camps in the Bay of Lubeck. This is his story.

From From

Jacobs, a Polish Jew, was a first-year dental student before he spent five years in Nazi extermination camps, including Auschwitz. Here, he vividly recalls that time, during which his elementary professional skills enabled him to practice primitive dentistry on inmates and SS officers alike, as well as to obey orders to extract gold teeth from corpses after gassing. Jacobs's understated tone conveys all the more forcefully the daily horror of camp life: bitter cold, near starvation, the smell of burning human flesh. Worst of all, notes the author, born Berek Jakubowicz, Auschwitz became a perverted “way of life” as he tried to survive it. Jacobs, who now practices dentistry in Boston, is a compelling witness.

Illustrations not seen by PW.

Benjamin Jacobs was a Jewish dental student who in 1941 was deported from the Polish village of Dobra—along with 166 other Jewish men, including his father—to a Nazi labor camp. Jacobs was 22, and what followed was four years of horror in two labor camps and in Auschwitz, where his father died and his brother survived. (His mother and sister were murdered in Chelmno.) The author survived because of his elementary dental skills; he worked on the teeth of inmates and later on those of 55 officers. In simple, straightforward prose, Jacobs reveals the relentless and senseless brutality of concentration camp existence and—finally—the miracle of survival. Jacobs' book is another solid addition to the ever-growing body of Holocaust literature.

George Cohen

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