Dr Robert Jay Lifton THE NAZI DOCTORS:
                        Medical Killing and the
                            Psychology of Genocide ©
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Killing by drugs gave more leeway to physicians. Their methods included injections of morphine; morphine plus scopolamine; or tablets, usually either veronal or luminal. Killing by drugs of already-weak patients was the preferred method at the killing centers now divested of their gas chambers. The proper dosage for gradual killing had been tested by Dr. Nitsche. Now, more literally, “the syringe was in the hand of the physician” or, as it happened of an assistant or a nurse There had been occasional killings by injection even during the height of T4 for instance, when a killing doctor at Hadamar refused to send a pregnant woman to the gas chamber, though she had been duly selected for that fate the matter was resolved by a nurse who gave her a lethal injection.15

The year after the disassembling of the gas chamber (which had killed ten thousand patients in less than a year of operation) a new physician named Adolf Wahlmann became medical director at Hadamar, an institution he had headed before the First World War and again in the mid-1930s. Wahlmann had joined the Nazi Party in 1933, but had been in some difficulty with the Party for what it perceived to be his greater commitment to a church choir he led.17 Called out of retirement at the age of sixty-six to help with mental hospital work before being transferred to Hadamar, he claimed at his later Frankfurt trial to have had no knowledge of the killing prior to his arrival. Whatever the truth of that claim, when Wahlmann arrived the chief administrator was then in the process of implementing a killing procedure in which the chief doctor was expected to give orders to the head male nurse to kill male patients and the head female nurse to do the same to female patients. When informed of that procedure by the administrator Wahlmann refused to do so indiscriminately, insisting upon going about things more methodically — that is, medically. He developed his own “professional” system: he observed patients arriving on transports, made daily rounds and studied medical records. He then held morning conferences where these observations were considered along with patients records and then would decide who was to be killed and what dose of what drug was to be used. Death certificates were also signed at these conferences and plausible causes of death were determined for those already killed. The orders to kill were passed along by the head male and female nurses present at the conferences to the ward nurses who carried them out The “medication” (usually between six and twenty tablets of luminal, triomal or a
* The ten thousandth victim at Hadamar had been celebrated as a milestone, as reported by an employee. Invited by a T4 doctor named Berner, the employees gathered that evening. Each was given a bottle of beer, and they adjourned to the basement. “There on a stretcher lay a naked male corpse with a huge hydrocephalic head. . . . I am certain that it was a real dead person and not a paper corpse. The dead person was put by the cremation personnel on a sort of trough and shoved into the cremation oven. Hereupon [the administrator] Märkle, who had made himself look like a sort of minister, held a burial sermon.” Another witness reported that the celebration, which included music, degenerated further into a drunken procession through the institution grounds.16   
Medical Killing and the
Psychology of Genocide

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