Dr Robert Jay Lifton THE NAZI DOCTORS:
                        Medical Killing and the
                            Psychology of Genocide ©
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[Psychiat…] ric Youth Department.” Görden and a few other centers were exceptional in their degree of specialization. Since Görden was considered to be scientifically advanced and its psychiatrist head Dr. Heinze had special credentials in that area, a grotesque half-truth reinforced the deception in the announcement by the minister of the interior on 1 July 1940 that at Görden “under the direction of specialists, all therapeutic possibilities will be administered according to the latest scientific knowledge.” 25 Eventually a network of some thirty killing areas within existing institutions was set up throughout Germany and in Austria and Poland. They could thus handle the volume of children designated for killing and at the same time provide the service close to the homes of the families involved — a saving in money and transportation and a means of rendering parents more amenable to accepting the necessary transfers. The heads of all these institutions were fully informed and worked closely with the Reich Committee. In various correspondence concerning transfers, it was announced that "the child would receive the best and most modern therapy available.”26
Medical “As If”

All of this falsification, then, was in the service of medical claim. Everyone proceeded as if these children were to receive the blessings of medical science, were to be healed rather than killed. The falsification was clearly intended to deceive — the children’s families, the children themselves when old enough, and the general public. But it also served psychological needs of the killers in literally expressing the Nazi reversal of healing and killing For example a doctor could tell a parent that “it might be necessary to perform a surgical operation that could possibly have an unfavorable result,” or explain that “the ordinary therapy employed until now could no longer help their child so that extraordinary therapeutic measures have to be taken.” Dr. Heinze, who used such phrases with parents, explained in court testimony that there had been truth to what he said: “A very excitable child completely idiotic . . . could not be kept quiet with the normal dose of sedatives,” so that “an overdose. . . had to be used in order to ... avoid endangering itself through its own restlessness.” At the same time, “we physicians know that such an overdose of a sedative, for children usually luminal … could cause pneumonia, . . . and that this is virtually incurable.”27 It is quite possible that Dr. Heinze not only was consciously lying, but was enabled by the medicalization of the murders partly to deceive himself: to come to believe, at least at moments, that the children were being given some form of therapy, and that their deaths were due to their own abnormality.

In the same spirit, the policy was to gain “consent” from the parents for the transfer. Those who showed reluctance to give that consent received letters emphasizing the seriousness and permanence of their child’s disability, telling them that they “should be grateful” that there  
Medical Killing and the
Psychology of Genocide

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