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‘Absolutely Vile’: NPR Pummeled For Using Nazi Ghetto As Example Of Pandemic Control
The headquarters of National Public Radio in Washington, DC. NPR is a privately and publicly funded non-profit membership media organization that serves as a national syndicator to 797 public radio stations in the United States. (Photo by Brooks Kraft LLC/Corbis via Getty Images)
Brooks Kraft LLC/Corbis via Getty Images

National Public Radio (NPR) was slammed online after publishing an article looking back to a ghetto in Nazi-controlled Warsaw as an example of controlling a virulent disease.

NPR, which is funded in part by American tax dollars, published a piece titled “The Warsaw Ghetto Can Teach The World How To Beat Back An Outbreak” on Tuesday. The article focused on a typhoid outbreak in Poland in the early 1940s after German dictator Adolf Hitler dominated the country and began stuffing Jews and Pols into crowded neighborhoods known as ghettos.

The article is primarily based on a study published in July that credits the Nazis with helping stave off the spread of typhoid in the Warsaw ghetto by enforcing strict sanitation measures and upping their captives’ rations. The study authors, however, give more credit to the Jewish and Polish leaders inside the ghetto for rallying their communities into taking precautionary steps against spreading the disease.

The abstract of the study says:

The highly dependent interplay of disease, famine, war, and society is examined based on an extreme period during World War II. Using mathematical modeling, we reassess events during the Holocaust that led to the liquidation of the Warsaw Ghetto (1941–1942), with the eventual goal of deliberately killing ~450,000, mostly Jewish residents, many through widespread starvation and a large-scale typhus epidemic. The Nazis justified genocide supposedly to control the spread of disease. This exemplifies humanity’s ability to turn upon itself, based on racially guided epidemiological principles, merely because of the appearance of a bacterium. Deadly disease and starvation dynamics are explored using modeling and the maths of food ration cards. Strangely, the epidemic was curtailed and was brought to a sudden halt before winter, when typhus normally accelerates. A far more massive epidemic outbreak was prevented through the antiepidemic efforts by the often considered incompetent and corrupt ghetto leadership and the Herculean efforts of ghetto doctors.

NPR took the study of the spread of typhoid in the Warsaw ghetto and attempted to apply lessons to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic. As part of its report, NPR interviewed the grandson of a couple who lived in the ghetto, Alex Hershaft.

NPR reports:

“I don’t think anyone in my family contracted lice,” said Hershaft, who says he sees parallels with the coronavirus now. “People who could afford to stay home and had enough to eat were OK, and people who had to mingle with others and didn’t have enough to eat were the most likely victims.”

And like Glatt, Hershaft speaks of the strong will to live in the ghetto: “People were keenly aware of their mortality, which is what made them go to such lengths to try to prevent typhus.”

“Now,” says Hershaft, “some people don’t take COVID seriously because the concept of contracting a deadly disease is so foreign to us, while in the ghetto, we were so conscious that the next day could be our last.”

Twitter users slammed NPR for attempting to draw parallels between the coronavirus pandemic and the typhoid outbreak in Nazi-controlled Poland.

“This is abhorrent,” the Republican Jewish Coalition tweeted.

“This is absolutely vile,” said Adam Kredo, senior writer at The Washington Free Beacon.

Similar responses continued:

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