During the Holocaust, Polish doctors Eugene Lazowski and Stanisław…

During the Holocaust, Polish doctors Eugene Lazowski and Stanisław Matulewicz saved 8,000 Jews by creating a fake Typhus epidemic. The Germans quarantined the area instead of risking outbreaks by sending them to concentration camps.

After the doctors discovered that by injecting a healthy person with a “vaccine” of dead bacteria, that person would test positive for epidemic typhus without experiencing the symptoms, the two doctors hatched a secret plan to save about a dozen villages from not only forced labor exploitation, but also Nazi extermination.

Germans were terrified of the disease because it was highly contagious. Those infected with typhus were not sent to Nazi concentration camps. Instead, when a sufficient number of people were infected, the Germans would quarantine the entire area. However, the Germans would not enter the zone, fearing the disease would spread to them also.

In this way, while Dr. Lazowski and Dr. Matulewicz did not hide Jewish families, they were able to spare 8,000 people from 12 ghettos from summary executions and inevitable deportations to concentration camps. Jews who tested positive for typhus were summarily massacred by the Nazis, so doctors injected the non-Jewish population in neighborhoods surrounding the ghettos, knowing that a possibility of widespread outbreak inside would cause Germans to abandon the area and thus spare local Jews in the process.

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