Original title: Szpital Przemienienia. Published in expanded form in 1955 as Czas nieutracony: Szpital przemienienia.
The year is 1939, and the Nazis have just occupied Poland. Stefan Trzyniecki, a young doctor alienated from his family and disturbed by the fate of his country, accepts an invitation to join the staff of an insane asylum. What he finds within the walls is a world of pain and absurdity that squarely matches the world outside. His colleagues seem hardly less deranged than their patients. A surgeon's vanity is played out on the ghastly stage of an operating table, while psychopaths celebrate the director's birthday with a song. In the end Stefan finds that the hospital finds no sanctuary from politics or violent death and that upholding a physician's oath has become a test of physical courage.