Dr Robert Jay Lifton THE NAZI DOCTORS:
                        Medical Killing and the
                            Psychology of Genocide ©
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extinguished life” and was motivated “not by brutality, but by a certain idealism . . . inherent in his conception of life.”11

Yet there were other sides to Brandt. François Bayle, a French psychologist who interviewed him repeatedly at the time of the Nuremberg Trial, described him as “a rich personality, vigorous . . . [but] undisciplined ... pugnacious and childlike ... made vulnerable by his ambition ... [and] pride".; possessing "vivid intelligence ... [but] little logical clearness, and much imagination which can be easily influenced and disordered” "his character . . . equally easily influenced."12 Bayle’s stress on this combination of intense ambition and vulnerability to influence is consistent with Brandt’s extraordinary attachment to Hitler and the latter’s continuous hold on him. There was also a strongly dissenting opinion from a Nazi doctor at the fringe of the Hitler circle, who described Brandt to me as dazzled by Hitler, deeply attracted to “the feeling of possessing power,” but “a complete failure” in almost everything he did, including his attempt to have a network of military hospitals built in various parts of Germany This doctor also felt that Brandt was criminally guilty, as judged at Nuremberg, for his responsibility not only for “euthanasia” but for various lethal medical experiments done in camps. This susceptibility to power is revealed as well in Speer’s recollection of his friend Brandt’s remaining for years at a relatively low SS rank until “suddenly he was jumping much more [in rank] than the others, . . . suddenly he was . . . a high SS man.”

While Brandt was not viewed as strongly anti Semitic, a story was told by a Dr. Hirsch of Tel Aviv of how a fellow medical student in Munich in 1925 once asked to see his notebook and returned it to him with a drawing of a gallows and a hanged man with the inscription: “The end of Hirsch: 19—?” The fellow student’s name turned out to be Brandt.13

At Nuremberg, Brandt could well have expressed a genuine conviction concerning the value of “euthanasia” for incurable patients. But from what is known about Brandt’s role in the “test demonstration” at Brandenburg comparing the killing effects of carbon monoxide gas and morphine injections, he surely became brutalized and numbed in equating that process with “major advances in medical history.” A doctor who worked as Brandt’s assistant told me that some of the psychiatrists went much further than Brandt thought they should have gone in “condemning ... many people to death who should not have been,” and that Brandt was angry when he found this out and wanted the practice stopped immediately. His attitude here was similar to his willingness to allow certain groups of patients to be saved, while in no real sense altering the basic killing project. Rather, he was the kind of Nazi who wanted such projects carried out as “fairly“ and “humanely” as possible.

Of the greatest importance is the fact that, Brandt never in any way disowned the German state, the Nazi regime, or Hitler himself. No wonder that the presiding judge could say that “there is an invisible figure  
Medical Killing and the
Psychology of Genocide

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