Dr Robert Jay Lifton THE NAZI DOCTORS:
                        Medical Killing and the
                            Psychology of Genocide ©
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to keep the war going and to reverse its outcome, as destined to restore the glory of Germany. Here S. entered directly into the romance of combat and death; he recalled proudly his unit's boldness in making use of patchwork equipment to defeat Communist troops, his brother’s miraculous escape from execution by the Communists, and his living out the Freikorps principles (described by one participant) of “war and adventure, excitement and destruction.” For the young S. the Freikorps was a profoundly formative experience; and for a leading historian of the phenomenon, “the real importance of the movement lies in ... that brutality of spirit and in that exaltation of power which the men of the Free Corps bequeathed to the Third Reich.”39

S. thought that the First World War experience "made a people of us," and that Germany had not been “militarily  . . . defeated” but undermined by “strikes in the munitions plants.” This was a version of the widely accepted right-wing “stab in the back“ (Dolchstoss) theory of the First World War: Germany had been not defeated but betrayed — by leftists, Communists, non-Germans, and, above all, Jews. Over the course of his university and medical studies, S. took on the contours of an intellectual of the radical right, both élite and populist, scornful of the Weimar Republic (“We said, ‘This mess has to be replaced by something completely different’ ”); reading Spengler and responding to his (in the words of a recent commentator) “celebration ... of a national and racial soul that contrasts with a rootless international finance . . . locat[ed] . . . in the alien body of the soul of the Jews.”40 S. was also “greatly influenced” in his “historical views” by Houston Stuart Chamberlain, the Englishman who, early in the twentieth century, became a naturalized German citizen and married Richard Wagner’s daughter Eva. Chamberlain wrote in German and his racist theory of history presents members of the Germanic (Nordic) race “as saviors of mankind” in a death struggle that “would decide whether the base Jewish spirit would triumph over the Aryan soul and drag the world down with it.”41 S. was part of a new nationalism, stressing the “community of blood” and the mystical transcendence of the “front experience” of combat in the First World War (in Ernst Jünger’s words, “The last war, our war, the greatest and most powerful event of this era ... [because] in it the genius of war permeated the spirit of progress . . . [and] the growing transformation of life into energy).” 42 *

During his student days, Johann S. followed a family tradition in becoming active in the national Burschenschaften, or student corporations, which he associated with deep Germanic roots and with völkisch princi- […ples]
* Jünger was the leading literary representative of the “front generation” and its “inner experience” of the trenches during the First World War. As a talented novelist and essayist, he “probably undermined the Weimar Republic more effectively than any other single author and helped foster a mental climate in which Nazism could flourish.” He resisted joining the Party, however, and, after military experience in the Second World War, produced diaries “disdainful of the Nazi spirit to which he had once made no trifling contribution.” 43   
Medical Killing and the
Psychology of Genocide

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