Dr Robert Jay Lifton THE NAZI DOCTORS:
                        Medical Killing and the
                            Psychology of Genocide ©
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Resistance to Direct Medical Killing 
[machin…] ery.* Bodelschwingh also visited Matthias Göring in May 1940 to ask for help, and was told by Professor Göring "not to undertake anything [in the way of opposition], but only to do this when we have definite evidence" (though there surely was already evidence). Early in the next year, Bodelschwingh asked Professor Göring to deliver a letter addressed to the latter’s cousin Hermann, pleading that his epileptic patients not be subjected to “economic planning” measures. Although Hermann Göring did see fit to answer, he claimed that Bodelschwingh’s assertions were “in part inexact and in large measure false,” and added that he would have Karl Brandt clarify things further. Bodelschwingh, in fact, negotiated endlessly with high Nazi officials and developed a close and friendly relationship with Brandt (see pages 115-16), partially cooperating while managing to stall the process despite a visit from a doctors' commission. Bodelschwingh succeeded in protecting most of his patients.”33

Braune, described as a man of formidable “Prussian military bearing,” had opposed the sterilization program34 † and had taken the initiative in approaching Bodelschwingh concerning opposition to medical killing. Braune then worked closely with Bodelschwingh on gathering and exchanging information and paying visits together to high officials. In one, along with the surgeon Ferdinand Sauerbruch, they confronted Minister of Justice Gürtner, in the latter’s apartment, with facts that apparently surprised him and caused him to be “genuinely horrified.”36‡ also produced a truly remarkable document, which combined passionate protest with detailed and systematic evidence, and was submitted to an official at the Chancellery and addressed to Adolf Hitler.

The document begins with general observations made in “various parts of the Reich” which “preclude any doubt that this is a large-scale plan to exterminate ... thousands of  ‘human beings unworthy of life.’” These measures, he insists, “gravely undermine the moral foundations of the whole Volk” and were “intolerable.” He then presents a chronology of directives, institutional experiences, questionnaire details, and methods of deception — even making statistical estimates of the number of people killed on the basis of the numbers on the urns of ashes received by families. He considers these events “shocking” and “simply unworthy” of therapeutic institutions.37 
* Bodelschwingh was originally a supporter of the regime and even an advocate of eugenics, who spoke of his “deep reverence” for research in that area and accepted the sterilization program. But in his Christian view he looked upon the physically and mentally impaired as “God’s admonition to man and reminders ... of the connection between guilt and atonement.” 32 He brought that Christian fervor to his protection of patients entrusted to him.

† Even he seemed to waiver a bit on sterilization. He apparently detested the wandering beggars he encountered as business manager of the German Hostel Association, and advocated that they be removed from society into work camps and even undergo “medical measures that would make these people no longer dangerous to the Volk.”35

‡ After that meeting, Gürtner asked the Chancellery chief Lammers whether the program should not either be stopped or else made legal.
Medical Killing and the
Psychology of Genocide

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