Dr Robert Jay Lifton THE NAZI DOCTORS:
                        Medical Killing and the
                            Psychology of Genocide ©
 
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“LIFE UNWORTHY OF LIFE”: THE GENETIC CURE 
 
in its proud 250 years of existence, no other physician had been guilty of crimes approaching the magnitude of de Crinis's.25  
 
 
Psychiatric Idealist: Carl Schneider  
 
Carl Schneider (1891-1946), also an Austrian, exemplifies the moral descent of a distinguished academic psychiatrist into the Nazi worldview and a key role in the “euthanasia” killing project. Most striking about Schneider is the impressive record of empathy and rehabilitation measures for patients that he brought to his commitment to direct medical killing.

A woman psychologist I talked to who had worked for Schneider stressed his idealism, his and others’ sense that a “euthanasia” project could end the horror — the “hidden crime ... the black side of medicine” — of profoundly regressed, isolated, backward psychiatric patients. She thought Schneider unusually sensitive to psychological symptoms, and  “not a bad man.”

He was later described by a younger colleague as an “excellent psychiatrist ... very sensitive ... very impressive to younger psychiatrists.” Schneider “detested force and cold routine,” permitted psychiatrists to have lunch with patients, and disseminated principles of empathy, especially toward epileptic patients, he had learned from having spent some time at the Bethel Institution where he — a pastor's son — had been chief physician until 1933.26*

Schneider left Bethel to become director of the University Clinic at Heidelberg. He had joined the Party in 1932; and after the Nazis assumed power, associates observed his transformation from “a modest scholar with an umbrella and briefcase, occupied with the most subtle kind of investigation of schizophrenia,” to a man who, as “a leader of German psychiatry, took on the mission of preaching National Socialism and offering his own enlightened program of work therapy as a National-Socialist approach par excellence.”27 Ironically, precisely that program of work therapy by Carl Schneider was referred to by Professor Ewald (see pages 83-85) as an extremely hopeful development in the treatment of schizophrenia, a development that argued strongly against subjecting schizophrenic patients to “euthanasia” killing, and against such killing in general.

His former associate, Walter Ritter von Baeyer, thought of him as “an ambivalent man.” And Schneider himself, when discussing many patients, would put forward “two possible ways to help” — one of them work therapy, and the other sterilization and medical killing. Von Baeyer also felt that Schneider was the kind of “sensitive and weak person” who could be readily transformed by National Socialist convictions into “a very
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* Despite his position at Bethel, Schneider had been involved in Nazi intrigues against Bodelschwingh for control of the Protestant church.  
 
THE NAZI DOCTORS:
Medical Killing and the
Psychology of Genocide

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