Dr Robert Jay Lifton THE NAZI DOCTORS:
                        Medical Killing and the
                            Psychology of Genocide ©
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least indirect professional and psychiatric support for other psychiatrists’ efforts at resistance, however partial.5*

A psychiatrist for whom Bonhoeffer’s influence was said to be crucial was Professor Hans Gerhard Creutzfeldt of Kiel. One of just two members of the medical faculty who did not join the Nazi Party, Creutzfeldt was somewhat protected by his academic dean, who discreetly let him know how far he could go in his anti-Nazi stance. Creutzfeldt went farther than most, and is said to have managed to protect most or all of the patients in his institution from the project. One psychiatrist told me that Creutzfeldt was known to have attacked “euthanasia” during his lectures, declaring, “They are murderers!” and was able to get away with it because the Nazis thought him very eccentric or even “a little mad.”† Close relatives I interviewed doubted that he would have been able to say such things directly. In any case, he was perceived as being capable of uttering that truth.
“Certain Medical Objections ”: Gottfried Ewald
Just one psychiatrist Professor Gottfried Ewald of Göttingen, openly opposed the medical-killing project. (But see the footnote on page 87 and pages 88-89.) Ewald had sufficient standing with the regime to be invited to become a leader in the medical killing project, sufficient personal and professional humanitarianism to refuse for reasons of principle, and sufficient courage to distribute his extensive critique of the program to high medical authorities.

At a planning meeting called by Werner Heyde, on 15 August 1940, to enlist prominent psychiatrists, Ewald refused to participate in the project and was asked to leave. He remembered Heyde presiding at a “long table,” explaining that “the ‘euthanizing’ must continue” because, even though hospital beds were no longer urgently needed by the military, the institutions still had to be “freed” of patients, “since one does not know what is going to happen.” It would be the task of the assembled psychiatric leaders to become “experts” or “senior experts,” which meant rendering judgments on whether patients were to be “euthanized” (euthanisiert). Heyde reported that there were plans to expand the program to senile and tubercular patients, and that Hitler was about to sign a law (whose text could be seen in the next room) that would provide "judicial security."7
* It must be said that Bonhoeffer originally favored sterilization and, moreover, did not take a strong stand against the Nazification of German universities, as he later had the candor to admit (“Unfortunately, neither I nor any of the other professors had the courage to get up and walk out in protest against the insulting attitude adopted by the Minister [for education and cultural affairs, Bernhard Rust] towards the academic profession”).6 He did, however, struggle to maintain an atmosphere of decency and balanced professional work in his department.

† Creutzfeldt later played a central role in exposing Werner Heyde and bringing him to trial (see page 119).

‡ This text — if there actually was one — could have been the draft for such a law which, as we know, was never implemented.  
Medical Killing and the
Psychology of Genocide

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