Dr Robert Jay Lifton THE NAZI DOCTORS:
                        Medical Killing and the
                            Psychology of Genocide ©
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(see pages 126-27) activities since late 1918, joined the Nazi Party in 1931, and fled to Germany in 1934 following the failed putsch against the Dollfuss regime, in which he may have been involved. By 1936, he was active not only in the SS but in the SD; later it was officially understood that he should publicly camouflage these affiliations.* Similarly, while attending an early organizational meeting of the “euthanasia” program in 1939, de Crinis was said to have “demonstrated a positive attitude” toward all that was worked out, but was permitted to decline to serve as an expert “for personal reasons.” He was, however, active in the SS Race and Settlement Office and, in 1941, became medical director of the Ministry of Education. He also took part in at least one bizarre intelligence mission to Holland as the impersonator of a military officer involved in a plot against Hitler.22

At his university and hospital in Berlin, de Crinis was reputed to have been “charming” and professorial in style. While his close Nazi connections were well known, he went to great pains to keep secret his “euthanasia” involvement, even to the point of appearing to be an opponent of medical killing. For instance, there was an incident, related to me by a doctor I interviewed, of a severely hydrocephalic child being brought to de Crinis for examination by him and his assistant. But when, the question arose whether the child should be transferred into a channel leading to “euthanasia,” de Crinis spoke sharply in the negative: “He has to go somewhere else.” (After examining Hitler and diagnosing his Parkinson’s disease, de Crinis also became involved in high-level, medically centered intrigue with Schellenberg, Himmler, and Conti concerning an armistice in the West. 23)

Word eventually got around the university and hospital about de Crinis’s activities, and it is said that Bonhoeffer confronted him on some of these matters. Yet de Crinis did protect Charité patients from medical killing. And he actively pursued scientific work on the somatic basis for psychiatric disorders and for the emotions in general. De Crinis was a spokesman for the psychiatric establishment in attacking psychogenic assumptions and resisting nonmedical psychotherapy. Indeed, psychotherapy as such was suspect as a “Jewish” pursuit.

Aside from any reasons de Crinis may have had to hide the extent of his “euthanasia” and SS involvements, his pattern reveals a manifest “doubling” process (see chapters 19 and 20). It is possible that de Crinis, to a significant degree, inwardly maintained his sense of being a proper academic psychiatrist — an “older self” that coexisted somewhat autonomously with his Nazified “euthanasia” and SS-intelligence self. This latter self, constructed from Nazi ideological fervor and grandiosity, enabled him to carry out his important role in direct medical killing. De Crinis killed himself on 1 May 1945 in the prescribed Nazi manner by swallowing cyanide.24 A historian of the Charité Hospital claimed in 1963 that,
* There is evidence of an official policy of  “euthanasia” physicians obscuring their SS connections, but de Crinis seemed to carry this out to an extreme degree.   
Medical Killing and the
Psychology of Genocide

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