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The jews and Typhus

http://www.ihr.org/jhr/v08/v08p433_Berg.html

After World War II, General George S. Patton described Jews living under his military authority in southern Germany. Martin Blumenson the editor of The Patton Papers regarded these remarks as indicative of a growing anti-Semitic attitude. For September 17, 1945 -- five months after the liberation of the last of the German concentration camps -- Patton wrote:

We drove for about 45 minutes to a Jewish camp ... established in what had been a German hospital. The buildings were therefore in a good state of repair when the Jews arrived but were in a bad state of repair when we arrived, because these Jewish DP's or at least a majority of them, have no sense of human relationships. They decline, where practicable, to use latrines, preferring to relieve themselves on the floor ...

This happened to be the feast of Yom Kippur, so they were all collected in a large wooden building which they called a synagogue. It behooved General Eisenhower to make a speech to them. We entered the synagogue which was packed with the greatest stinking bunch of humanity I have ever seen. When we got about half way up, the head rabbi, who was dressed in a fur hat similar to that worn by Henry VIII of England and in a surplice heavily embroidered and very filthy, came down and met the General . . .

However, the smell was so terrible that I almost fainted and actually about three hours later lost my lunch as the result of remembering it. [33]

Clearly, on the basis of the preceding passages, there was general agreement among German doctors, British doctors, Polish doctors, American military officers and even some Jews as to the frequent aversion to cleanliness of Jews in and from Poland. To some extent, the backwardness of the Polish Jews can be explained by poverty and persecution. But, whatever the cause, it is still difficult to comprehend the hysterical resistance to minimal standards of hygiene and civilized living when a modest amount of common sense should have told them that it was necessary for their own survival. An attachment to a traditional lifestyle going back centuries, if not millenia, may have been regarded as vital to their religious and ethnic identity.

In any event, it should be understood that Jews from Western countries were generally quite different in their personal habits. When these Jews were placed in camps with Polish Jews, they were as appalled as any other Westerners would have been. It does not seem fair to attribute the behavior of the Polish Jews to religion alone -- but, religion may be important, nonetheless.

Regardless of the true extent of the Jewish contribution to the spread of typhus, it is certainly safe to say that the German authorities were absolutely sincere in their statements that the Polish Jews were a major contributing factor in the spreading of the disease. They had not only the evidence of their own doctors to support this view but that of British and Polish doctors as well. They can hardly be blamed for applying severe measures to the Jews in order to control the epidemic. The severe measures included restrictions on the movements of Jews and eventually to the construction of a wall around the entire Warsaw ghetto. These measures during wartime were entirely reasonable to control the spread of typhus, and to prevent catastrophes like those which had already occurred in Poland and Russia during and after World War
  and  like this.