Dr Robert Jay Lifton THE NAZI DOCTORS:
                        Medical Killing and the
                            Psychology of Genocide ©
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[con…] demning the “euthanasia” program, and is said to have responded, “At last somebody has had the courage to speak out.”59
The Regime as a Healing Movement

Medical Gleichschaltung attempted to combine Nazification policies with a claim to continuity with older traditions of medical healing. Thus, even while investing administrative medical authority in recognizable professional mediocrities, the Nazis courted, often successfully, doctors with high professional reputations. And while the Nazis terrorized potential medical opponents, they also exhibited a certain élan in extending various forms of medical care to the entire German population. And at the same time that they developed a policy of sterilizing or killing people considered unfit for a society of the strong, the Nazis boasted of spectacular operative results and humane employment arrangements for people who had lost hands or limbs, especially in combat. In these ways, most doctors could continue to view themselves as authentic physicians, whatever the degree of Nazification of their profession.

At advanced six-week training programs for future medical leaders, doctors were instructed in both Nazi biomedical principles and German public health needs. And ordinary doctors were required to take three-week courses every five years on recent medical developments. The medical true believers, such as Professor Franz Hamburger of Vienna, considered National Socialism to mean “a revolution in every sphere of our civilization and culture,” including “a real renaissance of medical science, on Nazi foundations.”60 The Nazi regime sought international medical prestige and proudly sponsored international conferences, but at the same time turned inward, covered over things they did not want seen by physicians elsewhere in the world, and had a policy against doctors accepting Nobel Prizes out of fear that these might be given to Jews or Social Democrats and also because anything “international” rather than völkisch was suspect.

Perhaps the most severe conflict between the Nazi biomedical vision and the traditional medical profession was in relation to nonmedical healers, known as “healing practitioners” (Heilpraktiker) and “healers” (Heilkundiger). These groups generally stressed the outdoor life, natural foods, and overall reorientation in living; they often flouted established medical practice and sometimes treated serious diseases with dubious therapies. Long active in Germany, these healers appealed to the regime’s biological romanticism and mysticism and found their strongest supporter in Deputy Party Leader Rudolf Hess, the most intense biological mystic in the Nazi inner circle. Gerhard Wagner praised their “biological insights” and repeatedly sought a “synthesis of the one-sided old school medicine and the nature cure methods” as consistent with the National Socialist concept of “natural and biological laws controlling all events.”61 With that kind of sponsorship, joint conferences of the healing
Medical Killing and the
Psychology of Genocide

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