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Research on Buchenwald Prisoner Infirmary

Jena student Ralf Leipold visited the International Tracing Service (ITS) archive in Bad Arolsen to examine documents on the history of the prisoner infirmary at Buchenwald concentration camp. His findings will contribute to the expansion of the educational offerings of the Buchenwald and Mittelbau-Dora Memorial Foundation.  “The scope of the documents at the ITS is impressive. I managed to get an overview during the four days.”

Leipold is studying history, geography and educational science at Friedrich Schiller University of Jena. He has been doing an internship at the Buchenwald Memorial for the past four months. “I would like to review the history of the prisoner infirmary and make it more accessible to young people. The results will become part of a student exhibition,” said the intern. The foundation provides educational materials to school classes and youth groups and also offers visits to the memorial.

Prisoners who were too weak to do forced labour because of the harsh conditions and epidemics were temporarily treated in the infirmary. Under camp commander Hermann Pister prisoners were also subjected to medical experiments and killed by lethal injection. At the same time, Buchenwald´s infirmary was used by prisoners as a place of internal resistance. Lists of work assignments and transports to extermination camps were changed and prisoners were temporarily hidden from the SS in the infirmary.

At Arolsen, Leipold viewed so-called Buchenwald “entry books“, death lists, reports on the number of prisoners, sick lists, SS-correspondence and work statistics. “I compared details and collected new information,” reported Leipold.  His internship will end in mid-January of 2010. “I hope to be finished by then so the Buchenwald and Mittelbau-Dora Memorial Foundation´s education department can integrate my work into their concept.”