Dr Robert Jay Lifton THE NAZI DOCTORS:
                        Medical Killing and the
                            Psychology of Genocide ©
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Resistance to Direct Medical Killing 
suffered more, they had suffered enough already”; and she associated this activity with the same “simple sense of duty” he felt in his personal resistance to the medical killing project.

During the early postwar period, Dr. Ewald also gave willing testimony at “euthanasia” trials. He seemed to want to reassert his opposition to the project, but at the same time to offer personal help to psychiatrists who had been implicated. It may be that in certain ways he did not consider himself different from them. He had been a strong supporter of the regime, and his principled stand against its major “psychiatric” project was an attempt to reform it from within, even perhaps to preserve some of what he had come to admire in it. He could well have been left with a measure of guilt for this disaffection from his nation’s representatives, and more specifically guilt toward his colleagues for stepping out of their group in a way that cast aspersions on them. After all, he was strongly identified with most of his colleagues professionally and politically, and probably went further than most in cooperating with the regime prior to his stand against medical killing. This guilt and identification contributed to his protection of his colleagues after the war. However one judges that behavior, the sensitivity to guilt it reflects could well have been related to the act of conscience that distinguished him. Also undoubtedly crucial was his injury, his status as a handicapped person, which made him more sympathetic than others to the potential victims of medical killing, a little more wary of the concept of  “life unworthy of life.” (Significantly, Dr. Kuhn, who seems also, at Heyde’s Berlin meeting, to have refused full participation, had an amputated leg.)20

Ewald could not summon Bonhoeffer's deep-seated humanism and liberalism nor his professional stature. But I suspect that — and here Ewald resembles both Bonhoeffer and Creutzfeldt — earlier religious exposure affected this secular son of a Protestant minister.21 Whatever the extent of such influences, and whatever one’s prior relationship to the Nazi movement, there remains the inner integrity that permits one at a given moment to say no. A deeply concerned German physician who went over the entire Ewald story with me concluded rather sadly, “It seems that a hero is not really a hero.” That may be so: Ewald was considerably less than an anti-Nazi hero. And yet perhaps he was a hero after all. He did perform, as a psychiatrist within a discipline that essentially complied with the regime, a direct, courageous, personal, and professional act of opposition to medical killing.
* Of course, other secular psychiatrists took stands, in one way or another, against direct medical killing. They included Kurt Schneider (to be distinguished in every way from Carl Schneider [see pages 122-23]), Ernst Kretschmer, and Professor Karl Kleist, an internist with some psychiatric experience, who was described by an interviewed doctor as having mentioned in a lecture his refusal to join a “euthanasia” commission (see page 39). One young psychiatrist, Theo Lang, also approached Matthias Göring and asked him to sign a declaration against the extermination of mental patients. Göring declined;22 he resisted efforts to gain his support on at least two further occasions (see page 91). The resistance of psychiatrists from religious institutions is discussed later in this chapter. Nor is this list in any sense complete.  
Medical Killing and the
Psychology of Genocide

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