[The following extract from an appreciation of the situation by the senior medical officer after 24 hours’ contact with the camp will serve to illustrate the state of affairs at the beginning.] . . .
. . .It has been found necessary due to the lack of doctors and nurses
from home to employ German doctors and nurses. No doubt the additional medical skill thus added have proved beneficial in a general sense, but the patients are naturally terrified of being looked after by Germans
even under supervision, remembering how they were tortured in the past. It has been established that patients were often given intravenous infusions of benzol and creosote by the German medical staff, so that now, when the doctors approach with hydrolysate for intravenous infusion, the patients often cry out begging not to be taken to the crematorium. . .
This is a brief preliminary report of Belsen Camp to give the medical profession in Britain some idea of the medical problems involved. It is a complete understatement. No words can describe the stench of decaying faeces, rotting bodies, and burning rags, which in the first weeks one could begin to smell miles from the camp, and it can but be left to the imagination of the medical men who read this article to appreciate what the doctors, nurses, and students at Belsen have endured and accomplished. Since the camp was taken over from the Germans more than 20,000 internees have been buried; some 30,000 are left, of whom 11,200 are in the main hospital area. . . .
Collis WRF. Belsen Camp: A Preliminary Report. Br Med J. 1945 Jun 09;1(4405):814-816.