Dr Robert Jay Lifton THE NAZI DOCTORS:
                        Medical Killing and the
                            Psychology of Genocide ©
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Brandt expressed their satisfaction with the experiment, the latter stressing that "only doctors should carry out the gassings.57

I have referred to those initial gassings as both experiments and demonstrations, since later testimony — for instance, Brandt’s remarkable statements at the Nuremberg Medical Trial — make clear that they were both. Brandt said that the original plan was to kill people by injecting narcotics, until it was realized that these would cause loss of consciousness but that death would not occur for some time. An alternative suggestion was made by a psychiatrist (presumably Heyde) to use carbon monoxide gas (which, in turn, led to the demonstration just described). Brandt recalled not liking the idea because he felt that “this whole question can only be looked at from a medical point of view,” and that “in my medical imagination carbon monoxide had never played a part.” Killing by gas, that is, made it much more difficult to maintain a medical aura. Brandt was able to change his mind when he recalled a personal experience of carbon monoxide poisoning in which he lost consciousness “without feeling anything,” and realized that carbon monoxide “would be the most humane form of death.” Yet he remained troubled because that method required “a whole change in medical conception,” and gave the matter extensive thought “in order to put my own conscience right.” He brought up to Hitler the difference of opinion about the two methods, and later remembered the Führer asking, “Which is the more humane way?” “My answer was clear,” Brandt testified — and other leading physicians in the program agreed. Brandt concluded this segment of testimony with a meditation on medical breakthrough 
This is just one example of [what happens] when major advances in medical history are being made. There are cases of an operation being looked on at first with contempt, but then later on one learned it and carried it out. Here the task required by state authority was added to the medical conception of this problem, and it was necessary to find with good conscience a basic method that could do justice to both of these elements.58
Allowing for self-serving elements and for retrospective father-son mythology in his early relationship to Hitler, Brandt’s description takes us to the heart of the doctors’ embrace of medicalized killing.
The Bureaucracy of Medical Deception

Throughout the “euthanasia” project, the pattern was for senior doctors to make policy and render decisions, to serve as high consultants and experts, while younger doctors did the actual killing. That was the message from Dr. Hans F. in connection with the killing of children, even if somewhat older chief doctors provided either orders or deadly innuendos. The pattern was still more true in regard to adult patients. Where  
Medical Killing and the
Psychology of Genocide

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