Picture by David Beatson

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Ludwig Worl~Moral Courage

Ludwig Wörl (1906-1967) spent 11 years of his life as a political prisoner in Nazi concentration camps.
He was first arrested by the Gestapo in 1934, and sent to Dachau for distributing a pamphlet informing the public about the horrors of the camp. After spending some nine months in a dark detention cell, he was first transferred to the camp’s joinery and later, as a trained medical orderly, assigned to the camp’s sick-bay. In 1942, he was sent to Auschwitz together with 17 other male nurses to deal with an outbreak of typhus, which threatened not only the prisoners but also the German camp personnel.
Appointed as the Lagerälteste (the camp elder) of the hospital barracks, Wörl, against the express orders of the SS, employed Jewish doctors, thus saving them from certain death. He also put himself at risk in order to obtain at least a minimum of the required medicines and medical instruments for the treatment of the sick. He would forge selection lists in order to save Jewish patients from death by gassing. As a result of consistently countermanding the orders of the SS doctors aimed at decimating the number of the sick, Wörl was dismissed from his post and incarcerated once again in an isolated detention cell. After a while he was released and, by virtue of his nationality and seniority, put in Güntergrube, a forced-labor camp near Auschwitz.
In Guntergrube, as in Auschwitz, he protected the 600 Jewish prisoners from maltreatment by sadistic German Kapos and saw to it that they get their due share of food and clothing. Even prisoners with tuberculosis were able to survive because Wörl exempted them from hard work and protected them by various subterfuges from the inspection of the SS doctors. At the time of the evacuation of Auschwitz, he helped prisoners escape from the infamous death marches. After the war Wörl, who became chairman of the Organization of Former Auschwitz Prisoners in Germany, dedicated his life to perpetuating the memory of the Nazi crimes and bringing their perpetrators to justice. In 1963, he took the stand as one of the key witnesses in the Auschwitz trial in Frankfurt am Main.

On March 19, 1963, Yad Vashem recognized Ludwig Wörl as a Righteous Among the Nations.

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