Dr Robert Jay Lifton THE NAZI DOCTORS:
                        Medical Killing and the
                            Psychology of Genocide ©
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[ princi…] ples: “Many of the first National Socialist physicians were Burschenschaft members.”* Also connected with the Burschenschaften was a professor he admired who combined extreme eccentricity, ostensible clinical and therapeutic brilliance bordering on magic, the triumph of intuition over cold reason and the machine, and even the physician’s prevailing over royalty (in one story, S.’s idol made a recalcitrant emperor pay an exorbitant fee for medical services). These themes would be consistent with Nazi medicine and, above all, with its and the regime’s Führer principle.

S.’s family's struggle with Germany’s extreme postwar inflation, his later, medical practice with his father as “a worker’s doctor and poor people's doctor,” and his general preoccupation with community all inclined him toward a socialism of the right, sometimes termed “Prussian socialism,” based on what Jünger called the Gestalt of the German worker-soldier.44 That inclination played an important part in S.’s enlistment, at the end of 1930, in the SA, as did both his experience in the Freikorps (of which he considered the Storm Troopers “a continuation”) and, in fact, his whole previous political formation. In addition, there was his romantic self-image: he described witnessing “a small troop wearing brown shirts and carrying the swastika flag† . . . singing the ‘Horst Wessel’ song;** ... real young workers ... surrounded by jeering communists, but they just marched right along,” causing him to feel, “I should be ashamed of myself. These boys risked their lives and I don't do anything.”

He plunged into their “completely militarized” marches, organized medical services for them, and saw himself, as did the SA leaders, as part of a revolutionary, army that was responsible for Hitler’s victory by reclaiming the streets from the “Reds.” Above all, the experience was powerful: he felt himself in communal relationship with “the real workers . .. . . This was one of Hitler's greatest achievements .... We came to live with these young workers in close community”; and finally, “we of the younger generation” had access to the “front experience,” which S. had previously known only from his brother’s renditions. Specifically denying the SA’s terror tactics, S.’s nostalgia bordered on rapture as he described the beauty of the marches, the nobility of his group in “marching boldly past streets ... filled with Reds,” and he declared, “This was among the most beautiful times of my life.” In addition, he considered his fellow
* The Burschenschaften emerged during the early nineteenth century as student groups committed to German national unity (in opposition to Napoleonic-French military, political, and cultural influence), on the one hand; and to political liberalization (in opposition to Prussian-authoritarian repression), on the other. Originally disdainful of the traditional student corps and their focus on dueling and drinking, the Burschenschaft movement itself eventually took a conservative direction and carne to emphasize these same activities, while holding to a fierce nationalism.

†The swastika flag was the emblem first of the Nazi Party and later of Nazi Germany. Devised by Hitler, the flag had a red background in the middle of which was a black hooked cross (the swastika [meaning, in Sanskrit, well-being or good luck], an ancient symbol in many cultures) within a white circle.

‡The Horst Wessel song was composed by a young SA leader who was killed in a Berlin brawl in 1930. His death was systematically manipulated by Goebbels in a way that transformed into an ascetic martyr a man who had literally been a pimp.   
Medical Killing and the
Psychology of Genocide

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