The epidemic that saved 8,000 people

Dr Eugene Lazowski was living as a medical doctor in Poland when the Germans invaded. He was desperate to help the thousands of people facing persecution and death, but was unsure what he could do. That was until his friend, Dr Stanislaw Matulewicz discovered something that would turn out to be miraculous.


Matulewicz hypothesised that if a healthy person was injected with a vaccine of dead bacteria, then they would test positive for typhus. To test their theory Matulewicz injected the vaccine into a friend who was desperate to avoid being sent to his death at a work camp. He sent the blood sample to a German lab and shortly after the doctors received a telegraph confirming that the patient was infected with the disease, and he would not be allowed to return to the work camp.



Dr. Lazowski in his youth.


The doctors now had a weapon they could use against the Nazis. Knowing their enemy was terrified of the contagious disease, they began injecting the harmless vaccine into their sick patients. They would send the blood results to the Germans, and more and more people were forbidden from going to the work camps. Knowing any Jews who were infected with typhus would be executed, the doctors instead injected the disease into the non-Jewish population that surrounded the Jewish ghettos, hoping the fear of an epidemic would keep the Germans away. It worked. The Germans quarantined the area.


However, the Nazis were not idiots. Suspicious about this typhus epidemic that had seemingly sprung from nowhere, they sent a medical team to make sure the outbreak was legitimate. However, the quick-thinking Lazowski had a plan. He welcomed the team with a hot meal and plenty of alcohol. The head doctor was so distracted by the festivities he sent his subordinates into the hospital instead. The young doctors were terrified of being infected, so they quickly took blood samples and fled.


The doctors had pulled it off – without any guns and without secretly hiding anyone, they had managed to save at least 8,000 people from the horror and death of the concentration camps.



When Dr. Lazowski returned to his homeland aged 87 he received a heroes welcome


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