The Fantastic Laboratory of Dr. Weigl: How Two Brave Scientists Battled Typhus and Sabotaged the Nazis

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Polish biologist Rudolf Weigl developed the first typhus vaccine, made from carefully cultivated colonies of lice, in Lwów, Poland before WWII. He was sought by Nazi doctors and ordered to produce his vaccine for the German army. Weigl did so, but not quietly. Small quantities of vaccine were smuggled out of the lab and many of Poland’s threatened intelligentsia were smuggled in, hidden amongst the workers and protected from deportation or worse. Immunologist Ludwik Fleck, Weigl’s former assistant, confined in Lwów’s Jewish ghetto, worked on a vaccine of his own to protect against the waves of typhus ravaging the ghetto. Eventually in Buchenwald, Fleck carried out more deliberate sabotage of Nazi medical trials.

This is less an examination of the typhoid vaccine and more an examination of the rich community of scientists and thinkers in Poland in the years before and during WWII. Working as “lice-feeders” in Weigl’s lab or as captured scientists in Buchenwald’s Block 50, they were able to keep alive a flourishing of ideas and a steely resistance. Harrowing history, well told.

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Details

Publisher

Published

Genre

Century

Price
(US) $26.95
(CA) $28.50

ISBN
(US) 9780393081015

Format
Hardback

Pages
352