Dr Robert Jay Lifton THE NAZI DOCTORS:
                        Medical Killing and the
                            Psychology of Genocide ©
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“Euthanasia”: Direct Medical Killing 
either-or judgments without examining the children or even reading their medical records, but solely on the basis of the questionnaire. They recorded their decisions on a small form with the names of the three experts printed on the left side; on the right side, under the word “treatment” (Behandlung), were three columns, making a small space available parallel to each individual expert’s name. If an expert decided upon “treatment” — meaning the killing of the child — he put a plus sign (+) in the left column. If he decided against killing the child, he put a minus sign (-) in the middle column. If he thought a definite decision should not yet be made, he wrote in the right-hand column the phrase “temporary postponement” or the word “observation” and then initialed this opinion. The same form was passed in sequence to the three experts, so that the second one receiving it would know the opinion of the first, and the third would know the opinion of the first two. A unanimous opinion was necessary for a child to be killed — an outcome favored by the reporting arrangement.

Where a decision for or against killing was not unanimous, there was initially a policy of requesting additional information from the responsible local medical officer. But this policy was soon abandoned, probably because of its further threat to the program’s secrecy (which in any case gradually eroded, but which authorities tried nonetheless to maintain), and possibly also because of the administrative delays entailed. Instead, these children, along with those for whom observation or postponement was specifically recommended, were sent for further observation to the same children’s units where the killing was done. After a specified time, the consultants received additional information on the children, along with the original questionnaires, as a basis for a final decision. This arrangement also strongly favored a decision for killing. But the process was referred to as a means of obtaining “expert opinion.” The units where the killing was done were parts of children’s institutions whose chiefs and prominent doctors were known to be politically reliable and “positive” toward the goals of the Reich Committee. These centers were grandly referred to as “Reich Committee Institutions,” “Children’s Specialty Institutions (or Departments),” or even “Therapeutic Convalescent Institutions.” Actually no such separate institutions existed. The children marked for death were usually dispersed among ordinary pediatric patients; some were kept in separate wards of their own.23 *

The first Children’s Specialty Department was established in the state institution at Görden and was referred to publicly as a "Special Psychiat- […ric]  
* According to Hefelmann’s testimony, children were already being sent to Görden in October 1939, the committee wanting particularly “to put newborns to sleep as soon as possible,” to prevent “closer bonds between mothers and their children.”24 
Medical Killing and the
Psychology of Genocide

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