Dr Robert Jay Lifton THE NAZI DOCTORS:
                        Medical Killing and the
                            Psychology of Genocide ©
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Sterilization and the Nazi Biomedical Vision 31 
Physicians could thrill to that message. Dr. S., for instance, described joining the Party immediately after hearing Deputy Party Leader Rudolf Hess say, at a mass meeting in 1934, “National Socialism is nothing but applied biology.” And in his work of Nazi medical organizing, this doctor saw himself as primarily spreading a biological message: “We wanted to put into effect the laws of life, which are biological laws.” His medical faction was disdainful of any politics that did not follow that principle: “We understood National Socialism from the biological side — we introduced biological considerations into [Party] policies.” He stressed the conviction that physicians alone possess the necessary combination of theoretical knowledge and direct human experience to serve as the authentic biological evangelists: “Every practitioner has much more knowledge about biology than a philosopher or what have you, because he has seen it.”

At the same time, it was claimed that the desired identity of the Nazi physician evolved naturally from medical tradition — a tradition that now required “Germanizing” and “eugenicizing.” One lavishly illustrated volume by two medical historians was entitled The Face of the Germanic Doctor over Four Centuries. It featured Paracelsus, the great sixteenth-century Swiss-German physician-alchemist, and praised him for both his scientific empiricism and his nationalism. He was quoted as saying, “Each country developed its own sickness, medicine, and its own doctor.” More recent German scientists, especially Carl Correns who did pioneering work in plant genetics, were hailed as having “created the foundation for the eugenic and racial-biological measures of the National Socialist people’s state.” The authors’ SS ranks are included;* and the introduction by Ernst Robert Grawitz, chief physician of the SS, puts forward the concept of the physician, past and present, as the “protector of life” who "knows himself to be deeply obligated to the future of our Volk.”28

Another such introduction to a volume on medical ethics was written by Joachim Mrugowsky, a high-ranking SS doctor who became head of the Hygienic Institute, which was responsible for maintaining and dis- […tributing]  
* The SS (Schutzstafel, or defense squadron) began as Hitler’s personal guard unit. Particularly after 1929, under the control of Heinrich Himmler, it advertised itself as an élite corps whose members fit the ideal Aryan model. As such, it attracted considerable support from the aristocracy and professional classes, including physicians. The SS grew in power and influence by purging the less disciplined and lower-class SA in 1934, then by its assumption of control over all police forces during the late 1930s. Himmler purportedly modeled the SS on the Jesuits, with absolute obedience sworn to Hitler. The SS came to be divided into a number of units, including the SD (Sicherheitsdienst, or Security Service), the Office of Race and Settlement, and the WVHA (Wirtschafts-und Verwaltungshauptamt, or Economic and Administrative Department), which administered the concentration camps. The Waffen-SS, or armed SS, amounted to a separate army, indeed existed in rivalry with the regular Wehrmacht. Its units were most involved in the atrocities of the Einsatzgruppen during the early part of the war. During the war the Waffen-SS became increasingly independent and acted more as a regular military force. Utilizing relatively large numbers of “ethnic” Germans from outside the Reich from the outset, after 1942 it depended upon conscription to maintain its forces.

† The concept of “Germanic” physicians included Austrians, Dutch, Belgians, and Scandinavians
Medical Killing and the
Psychology of Genocide

Robert J. Lifton
ISBN 0-465-09094
© 1986
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