Dr Robert Jay Lifton THE NAZI DOCTORS:
                        Medical Killing and the
                            Psychology of Genocide ©
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that they were Jews and could be presented as a group — a process, as we shall observe, close to that of selections in Auschwitz. That same psychiatrist had copied phrases from the SS files of Dachau and Ravensbrück on the backs of their photographs. On one: “Inflammatory Jew hostile to Germans; in camp lazy and insolent.” Another: “Anti-German disposition. Symptoms: Well-known functionary of the KPD [German Communist Party], militant agitator.” And still another: “Diagnosis: Fanatical German-hater and asocial psychopath. Principal symptoms: inveterate Communist, ineligible for military service.”9 As a postwar German psychiatrist stated, “It would be difficult to find a clearer documentation of the political manipulation of the psychiatric profession.”10

One key to the nature of 14f13 lies in the term “special treatment” (Sonderbehandlung) as part of the program's name. “Special treatment,” though it was to become a euphemism for killing in general was used originally (from 1939) as a specific Gestapo concept and code term legitimating extralegal execution. Thus, Reinhard Heydrich issued decrees, on, 3 and 20 September. 1939, distinguishing cases that could be taken care of  “in the accustomed manner and those which require[d] special treatment”: the latter, because of their seriousness danger, and  “propaganda consequences deserve to be considered for elimination ruthlessly and without respect of persons.” The concept was consistent with Hitler’s formally articulated claim (made in October 1939, soon after the outbreak of war) to the right of deciding over life and death of all Germans without regard for existing laws T4 itself had been initiated under this claim but 14f13 structured it specifically in connection with the principle of “special treatment.” The term then was extended to a variety of cases in the work of the secret police, and to decrees by leaders of the Race and Resettlement Office concerning the handling of racially undesirable people. By the middle of 1941 the term was being used “matter-of-factly” in connection with extermination of Jews in the East, even to the creation of different verb forms such as a past tense  “specially treated” (sonderbehandelt). In June 1942, Himmler approved a “euthanasia” death for tubercular Polish workers by stating, “I have no objection to giving special treatment to the Polish nationals . . . who have been certified by authorized physicians to be incurable.”11

The use of the term “special treatment” followed a sequence, then, of being applied first to allegedly dangerous criminals then to medically determined “unworthy life” in the greater society (in the T4 program, where, however, the term was not widely used), and finally to still-medicalized “euthanasia” in the camps (via 14f13, where it was always used) of all groups considered by the regime to be undesirable (Jews, homosexuals, political opponents, ordinary criminals, “shiftless elements,” Catholic critics, etc.) and now inclusively viewed as “unworthy life.” The extension of the aura of “euthanasia” into the camps in this way widened indefinitely the potential radius of medicalized killing. And that form of extralegal but legitimated killing took on a special priority and absolute- [...ness] 
Medical Killing and the
Psychology of Genocide

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