Dr. Ewa Bacon is Professor Emerita of History at Lewis University. Her areas of expertise and research interests include: the Holocaust and genocide, Russian history, Central European history (especially Germany and Poland), and globalization issues. Dr. Bacon received a bachelor's degree from Stanford University, a master's and a doctorate degree from the University of Chicago.
Dr. Bacon will launch the first of her three part talk series focused on her book Saving Lives in Auschwitz, with a General introduction to the book.
Ewa's first talk will focus on the men who survived the “death camp” of the concentration camp Auschwitz during World War II. While this concentration camp is infamous for the systematic murder of close to a million Jews in a root-and-branch genocide, that event took place in Auschwitz II-Birkenau, one of over 45 units called “Auschwitz.” Fundamentally Auschwitz was a labor camp and a prison for several hundreds of thousand men and women. The author’s father, Stefan, provided an oral history to the post-war museum at Auschwitz in which he described the creation of a prisoners’ hospital in one of the Auschwitz sites: Auschwitz III-Buna Monowitz. The Germans build a giant factory for synthetic rubber here hoping to exploit cheap slave labor from the camp. Stefan was a Polish Roman Catholic physician who was arrested for anti-Nazi activities. However, since his services were needed in the huge camp, he maneuvered and connived and manipulated within the camp system to expand what was an infirmary into a working hospital with facilities for operations, a working laboratory, wards for infection diseases, wards for convalescence as well as a very busy outpatient unit. More than 40 physician inmates were employed in the hospital along with close to a hundred support personnel to provide care for the ten thousand slave laborers being used by the IG Farben company that was building the Buna plant. To create a working camp meant not only getting other prisoner groups to cooperate, but also exerting leverage to get permission from the Nazis to build this facility.