Books Worth Reading - Lilac Girls

"A doctor without love is like a mechanic."

- chapter 3

As the granddaughter of a World War II veteran, a physician and a lover of history, this book was everything. It is horrific, heartbreaking and deeply saturated with history while having enough fictionalization to truly read like a novel. 

The devastation of World War II entwines the history of three different women unexpectedly - a US socialite, a Polish teenager and a German doctor. It is a story that is so well written I got lost in the story, a story that should NEVER be forgotten. Of bravery, treachery, selflessness, cruelty, betrayal and great loss. 

As a physician, the story of the "Rabbits" of Ravensbrueck is something that must be remembered - and remembered that they were not "Rabbits", but women - mothers, wives, daughters, sisters, friends. The horrific medical experiments performed on these women surrounding the use of Sulfa laid a groundwork for medicines we still use and yet so few know the history behind it. In reading this book, the quote above strikes a deep cord. 

"A doctor without love is like a mechanic."

What does this really mean to me? A heartbreaking reminder that we cannot lose our love of all humanity, we cannot forget the person behind the diagnosis, we cannot put up walls that prevent us to feel the loss, the heartbreak and the joy that can be found in medicine. If we do, the slope is both dangerous and slippery.  Do not allow yourself to turn into a mechanic. 

And so it is with history, if we forget, it tends to repeat itself. Protect the future by reading and remembering. 


Lilac Girls: A Novel
By Martha Hall Kelly