Dr Robert Jay Lifton THE NAZI DOCTORS:
                        Medical Killing and the
                            Psychology of Genocide ©
 
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“LIFE UNWORTHY OF LIFE”: THE GENETIC CURE 
 
He went on to argue that all people, not just the sick, should be willing to put their own lives and those of close family members “at the disposal of the State,” especially during wartime, since “the goal for which we strive ... [is] the greatest that we know ... freedom, greatness and happiness of the people.” He acknowledged the “higher medical and general goal” of ending life unworthy of life as compared with nursing it, but wanted to limit that concept to such situations as that in which a doctor would hasten the death of a terminal cancer patient who longed for it “for healthy [gesund] reasons.” In that sense, Ewald sought to return to the true meaning of euthanasia. And he stressed the “biological bond of blood” that exists “even between a mother and her idiotic child — and demands respect.” Should a family, because of the economic burden created by such a child, consent to its elimination, the state would do better to offer aid to the family, “in order ... not to differentiate between our countrymen who are in a better or worse economic position.”10

Only then did Ewald raise “certain medical objections.” He asked with italicized emphasis: “Do we really know that all the patients who fall under this law are incurable?” Here, focusing on schizophrenia, he pointed out that it contains no clearly recognized histopathology (tissue change) and that new therapies have resulted in “astonishing” recoveries. Going on to explore the psychological consequences for relatives and the general population, he noted that many will be “tortured" by self-blame, whether or not they actually gave consent; that there will be terrible conflict and reproaches within families; and that fear and distrust will be rampant, especially toward doctors, "because one knows that admission to a mental clinic or institution can lead to death.” Not only would medical care for the entire population suffer, but the medical profession would lose its general standing, and people would associate it with everything that is “sinister, monstrous, and terrible.” He boldly invoked the finality of killing: “One can live and even enjoy life without Fallopian tubes or a vas deferens (although most have suffered bitterly under the sterilization procedure), but death puts an end to everything.”11

Ewald was at his most eloquent in affirming the integrity of the medical profession — but again within a Nazi context:
 
Physicianship is built on the urge to help another, and comfort and not harm him. The psychiatrist in particular has learned to promote a higher good . . . the good of all .... Every sensible doctor will also approve euthanasia. Who, however, aspiring to become a doctor, will want to be put in the position of eliminating hopeless cases against the wish of their relatives, and, without the most compelling need, taking upon oneself the odium of killing? ... I can certainly kill any time if it is a matter of saving the Volk; ... I would also ... approve the elimination of serious criminals and common vermin. But I cannot choose a profession whose daily business it is to eliminate a sick person because of his sickness after he or his relatives have come to me, trusting and looking for help.
 
THE NAZI DOCTORS:
Medical Killing and the
Psychology of Genocide

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