|LIFE UNWORTHY OF, LIFE: THE
|Something that still weighs on my mind [is that the
euthanasia project] was experience in preparation for the mass
killing later on [because he knew that] during this process, Desinfektoren,
were shown [how to kill] and these people later on worked in concentration
camps in the East.
He also raised to himself a disturbing
question the. problem I cannot solve. That question was,
How would I have reacted . . . if I had psychiatric training and had done
psychiatric work at the Wehrmacht and were then sent to this place, ...
if I had been the right man on the right spot?" He strongly implied that he
might well have stayed, because at that time Hitler was still for us the
Führer Hitler couldnt have made a mistake.
Wolfgang R. managed to leave, and we must ask why he was able to do at least
that and Dr. D. was not. We cannot say with certainty, but the question Dr. R.
asked himself suggests two probable factors: his greater sensitivity to guilt
and his intense focus on technical issues. Concerning the latter, we shall see
again and again that a plea of technical professional limitation was the best
way for a doctor (or anyone else) to avoid taking part in a Nazi project. But
Dr. R. appeared to mean it his uneasiness at being thrust into a killing
situation would not have been sufficient inner justification for refusing an
important assignment coming from the Führer, but his sense of actual
technical (psychiatric) limitation could both add to that uneasiness and serve
as that justification. There was an additional factor, an ironic one, that
might have been the most important of all: Dr. Ds intense idealization of
the regime his extraordinary attachment to both the Nazis and the German
military. This idealization could turn to profound disillusion when confronted
with the Nazi killing project and especially when asked as an unprepared
doctor, to participate in it.
|The Rank and
| In respect to the T4 programs several ordinary
psychiatrists I interviewed described various combinations of knowledge and
confusion, and of cooperation along with gestures of resistance.
Günther E., who had worked in a few of the state hospitals where most
German psychiatrists were then employed, represented one kind of response from
the psychiatric rank and file. I encountered him as an old man living in rural
retirement at first friendly and responsive but increasingly uncomfortable over
the course of the interview as the atmosphere of the Nazi era emerged.
Never an ardent Nazi but friendly toward the regime at the time, he had
considered the sterilization program a useful thing because he
agreed with the regimes contention that the state should be associated