Dr Robert Jay Lifton THE NAZI DOCTORS:
                        Medical Killing and the
                            Psychology of Genocide ©
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Sterilization and the Nazi Biomedical Vision 
that “the life of the individual has meaning only in the light of that ultimate aim.”34 The doctor, like everyone in Nazi Germany, was expected to become “hardened,” to adopt what Hitler himself called the “ice-cold logic” of the necessary.

The keynote of the Nazi policy was transformation, in Ramm’s words: “a change in the attitude of each and every doctor, and a spiritual and mental regeneration of the entire medical profession.” The true physician, moreover, “must not only be a Party member on the outside, but rather must be convinced in his heart of hearts of the biological laws that form the center of his life.” He was also to be a “preacher for these laws.”35 Dr. S. believed that Nazi medicine had achieved some of this transformation: that is, it had overcome the exaggerated stress on “technical things,” reversed the prior tendency to “know only cases and not people,” and “put in the foreground the questions of the psyche that had been neglected.”

But the Nazis sought something more than mere psychosomatic inclusiveness or “holistic” medicine: their quest had the quality of biological and medical mysticism. Mrugowsky, for instance, wrote, in the introduction mentioned earlier, that “today the [German] Volk is holy to us.” Of the physician's relationship to the Volk, or “community of fate,” Mrugowsky added that “only in the art of healing does he find the myth of life.”36 Other writers. had viewed the Third Reich as “immanent in all German history, which strives toward that moment when the Volk becomes the vessel of God.” 37 But in the vision I am describing, the physician-biologists saw themselves as the core of the mystical body of the Volk.

There had to develop, as one Nazi doctor put it, “a totality of the physicians’ community, with physicians having total dedication to the Volk.” This doctor’s term for his biological mysticism was “biological socialism.” The Nazis, he insisted, had been able to bring together nationalism and socialism because of their “recognition of the natural phenomena of life.” Thus, “for the first time, the mind begins to understand that there are powerful forces over it. which it must acknowledge”; that “the human being becomes . . . a working member in the kingdom of the living; and that his powers will be fulfilled when working within the balanced interplay of natural forces.” We may say that mysticism, especially communal mysticism, was given a biological and medical face. (In chapter 5, I discuss this kind of biological romanticism at greater length.)
Medical Gleichschaltung

This Nazi medical ethos, though embraced by most doctors only in part, became the basis for reorganizing the profession. The reorganization process was known as Gleichschaltung, which means “coordination” or “synchronization” and also connotes the mechanical idea of shifting gears. Hitler had anticipated the principle of Gleichschaltung when he declared in Mein Kampf that “all future institutions of this state must grow  
Medical Killing and the
Psychology of Genocide

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