|LIFE UNWORTHY OF LIFE: THE
|one is a physician or one is not. And: The
physician, regardless of his ideology or age, all these years he has been
educated to help the sick, to heal the sick and not to kill the sick.
Doctors in Hans F.s situation had to have some awareness of the
reversal of healing and killing, but did not necessarily experience sufficient
guilt to prevent them from participating. In this doctors case, residual
feelings of shame and guilt were later intensified by the knowledge that, among
the doctors he worked closely with, one had served a five-year prison term,
while the other, his former chief, had been sentenced to death at a trial held
soon after the war. Our interviews could also have stimulated his guilt
feelings: he later expressed publicly a sense of greater culpability and the
conviction that he should have told Nazi leaders at the time that the program
was crazy and was making doctors into monsters. Highly revealing
was his rage perhaps the only rage he expressed during our interviews
toward those who gave orders from above for people like him below to do
Well, there is an enormous difference if one says
the patients who fall under these provisions are unworthy of life, that they
should be killed that is still a provision, you know but
the actual carrying it out, that is the big problem, see. Who will do this
thing? I believe those gentlemen who engaged in such theoretical reflections
never reflected on that .... No judge who gave the verdict of death has
ever hanged anyone, you see .... I can say a hundred times, He [a
patient] is such a mental defective that he can never develop at all, . .
. etc., etc. but that does not enable me to kill him [umzubringen;
literally, put [him] away].
|He identified his former chief as one of those desk
criminals (Schreibtischtäter) a term used widely about
the Nazis during the postwar period who caused others, such as nurses
and lower-ranked doctors, to do the dirty work and to be caught between the
desk criminal and the victim. Dr. F. implied that he included himself in that
latter, entrapped group. His moral confusions were expressed in still another
significant form: his attitude toward the specimens taken from the dead
children. Autopsies were performed at the time of the killings by a pathologist
in Dr. F.s institution, and he himself would sometimes examine brains of
his own former patients. He did that, he explained,
not only because one could perhaps, so to speak,
lighten ones conscience but because one is interested in finding out what
was wrong with the person: What is going on there, why is he sick? Whats
the matter with him? ... Why is this child an imbecile? Why is it paralyzed?
There was a high scientific interest present I, must point that out.