MEMORIAL AND MUSEUM

AUSCHWITZ-BIRKENAU

FORMER GERMAN NAZI
CONCENTRATION AND EXTERMINATION CAMP

Camp hospitals

Medicine in Auschwitz

When they organized the camp in Oświęcim in 1940, the SS gave it the same administrative makeup as the concentration camps that were already operating. Its structure thus included a Department V—camp medical service. The garrison physician (SS-Standortärzte) was head of this department. Until March 1942, he was under orders from the SS Medical Service, and afterwards from the head physician of the concentration camps; that is, the director of Office Group DIII (camp medical and hygiene) in the SS Main Economic-Administrative Office (SS-WVHA). On an everyday basis, the garrison physician cooperated closely with the camp commandant, advising him on medical, sanitation, and hygiene matters. The head physician had overall responsibility for the state of hygiene in the camp and headed the extensive medical service, which included the SS camp doctors. These doctors directed the camp hospitals (known as rewirs or infirmaries) with the help of SS orderlies and prisoner functionaries, at the head of whom stood the Lagerälteste HKB.