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The Art and the Calling
September 2002

Dermatitis Factitia as a War Weapon

Author Affiliations

Copyright 2002 American Medical Association. All Rights Reserved. Applicable FARS/DFARS Restrictions Apply to Government Use.2002

Arch Dermatol. 2002;138(9):1141-1142. doi:10.1001/archderm.138.9.1141

Almost 60 years ago, I was in the US Army, getting shot at in Germany during World War II. Today, I am an 82-year-old dermatologist with a practice in Whittier, Calif, 50 years in the same office. Here is a memory I would like to share with my colleagues.

During the last years of World War II, Germany had a functioning de facto "United States of Europe," from the Channel to the Urals, churning out matériel for the German War Machine. Since a high percentage of German males were in the armed forces, other laborers were needed to keep this "Machine" functioning. The captured countries were the obvious source of these laborers. In France, one of the several resistance movements (Macquis), called by the Americans the Mackies, did not wish its key underground members to be drafted and sent for forced labor to Germany. They needed covert reasons for German examining physicians not to pass these key workers.