Dr Robert Jay Lifton THE NAZI DOCTORS:
                        Medical Killing and the
                            Psychology of Genocide ©
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Sterilization and the Nazi Biomedical Vision 
curriculum to give greater stress to military medicine, population politics, and racial biology.57

Resistance to these changes within medical faculties was extremely limited. One notable example of courageous intellectual opposition was that of Karl Saller, a promising anthropologist who, even prior to the Nazi regime, had been critical of concepts of a Nordic race as a fixed biological entity. In his writing he had the temerity to insist that in all races there was a continually changing gene pool, a constant state of flux, and that the German race had become entwined with many others and contained extensive Slavic influences. That thesis questioned the very basis of the Nazi biomedical vision; and no less a personage than the Gestapo chief Reinhard Heydrich initiated an order prohibiting Saller from teaching, which forced him to leave his post at the University of Munich. At his farewell lecture, he repeated his scientific views and stated that his love of truth and sense of honor prevented him from renouncing them. A handful of other anthropologists were slowly forced to leave university positions, but Saller was notable in speaking out so forthrightly. While many anthropologists, as well as biologists and physicians, must have agreed with his views, they tended to remain silent, and he found himself generally rejected and avoided by former colleagues and friends.58

Occasionally, during lectures, physicians reasserted intellectual and ethical positions at odds with the regime's practices. One anti-Nazi doctor I spoke to told how one of his teachers, Professor Karl Kleist, had refused to serve on a “euthanasia” commission and had declared to his students, “just imagine, they want to have me, an old doctor, commit a crime with my own hands.” The professor was said to have been denounced on the spot by student activists, though he was subjected to no punitive measures, possibly because of his seniority. Most anti-Nazi physicians during lectures tended to speak cautiously, more by innuendo. It is possible that Professor Kleist did so as well but that his former student, to whom he was a hero, wishes to remember him as having been even bolder than he was.

Perhaps the most moving of all expressions of opposition in Nazi Germany involved three medical students and a few additional students from other faculties at the University of Munich, in the dramatic White Rose resistance group. Over several months during 1942 to 1943, the group issued bold leaflets denouncing the Nazi regime and its immoral behavior (“For Hitler and his followers there can be no punishment on this earth which will expiate their crimes”), and calling for the German people to overthrow the regime and restore their good name. The leaflets also declared: “We will not be silent. We are your bad conscience. The White Rose will give you no rest.” The students were eventually discovered and condemned by a Nazi “people’s court”; most were beheaded. Significantly, one of the group’s leading figures, Hans Scholl, had been inspired by a sermon of Bishop Clemens von Galen of Münster, con- […demning]  
Medical Killing and the
Psychology of Genocide

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