Dr Robert Jay Lifton THE NAZI DOCTORS:
                        Medical Killing and the
                            Psychology of Genocide ©
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emptied. First fresh air was introduced through the ventilator, and the gas was forced out. From the beginning of the gassing until the reopening of the gas chamber took about one hour. The corpses that were to be dissected were removed to a special room. However the great majority of corpses were immediately taken to the ovens and burned there.64*
Concerning the humanity of this form of killing claimed by Brandt, another man who worked at Hadamar and looked into the gas chamber through a side window spoke of “a horrible sight when the patients gradually collapsed and fell over one another,” and added, “I shall never get this picture out of my mind.”66

We shall find this sequence, including the doctor’s central role in it, to be strikingly similar to the killing sequence in Auschwitz.

Given the medical cover-up of killing, every death certificate had to be falsified. The key principle employed in choosing the false cause of death was medical credibility: assigning a disease consistent with a patient’s prior physical and mental state, a disease that he or she could have contracted. Designated causes of death could include almost anything — infectious diseases, pneumonia, diseases of the heart, lung, brain, or other major organs. Skill at this falsification process was an important part of the “medical experience” of the killing doctors, and younger ones learned it during their “training” with their medical superiors and predecessors. To help them, they were given written guides specifying important details necessary for consistency.

One such guide for instance focused upon septicemia (bacteria in the bloodstream) as a cause of death referred to bacterial infection of the skin as a possible source and listed the sequence of symptoms and therapy to be mentioned. The document included additional useful tips: unclean mental patients often have boils which they scratch; and “It is most expedient to figure four days for the basic illness [bacterial infection of skin] and five days for the resultant sepsis”; and, this diagnosis should not be used with patients who are meticulously clean but “is preferable for young strong patients who smear readily.” but in that case “seven to eight days have to be allowed for the illness to take effect since their circulation is relatively more resistant.”67

It is no exaggeration to say that the primary — perhaps the only — medical function of the killing doctors was to determine the most believable falsification of each patient-victim’s death certificate.

Maintaining these medical illusions required an extensive bureaucracy of deception. Every falsification in this “bloated apparatus” had to be
* In addition, as part of the scientific orientation of the program, “euthanasia” victims were photographed nude before they were killed. Dr. Friedrich Mennecke (see pages 139-42) had special training in “the photographic representation of types” during his T4 education in Heidelberg.65 In some centers, the brain was removed for later study before the corpse was cremated   
Medical Killing and the
Psychology of Genocide

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