Dr Robert Jay Lifton THE NAZI DOCTORS:
                        Medical Killing and the
                            Psychology of Genocide ©
  Page 137  
Previous Page

Home Page
Home Page  
   Next Page
Bringing “Euthanasia” to the Camps 
[absolute…] ness: the minutes of the 1 January 1940 SS conference on race-related immigration questions state that an individual judgment on “special treatment” was to be “incontestable, like that of a physician” (see also pages 430-33).12

Although the code name had originated from the office of the Inspectorate of Concentration Camps, orders and directives came only from T4 headquarters, and doctors reported from the camps back to that headquarters for appointments with Heyde or Nitsche and to drop off completed forms. for processing; transfer lists were prepared there, so that inmates on the lists could be sent directly to one of the still-operative killing centers (such as Bernburg and Hartheim) where they were, gassed in the same manner as patients in the T4 program. One variation from T4 procedure was that death notices were sent out from the camps rather than centrally, though with similarly contrived causes of death. (By early 1942, no notices were sent out.) The continued pseudo-medical “euthanasia” idiom was reflected also in Nazi documents in their reference to “prisoners’ euthanasia” and in camp inmates' references to “invalid transports.”13
Medical Bridge to Genocide  
The 14f13 program went through several changes in focus over its period of operation. Its emphasis shifted almost immediately from the mentally ill (if that emphasis ever actually existed) to political prisoners, Jews, Poles, draft evaders or those deemed militarily unsuitable, those guilty of “racial” crimes, habitual criminals — until the mentally ill became hardly relevant. Yet in March 1942, an SS directive went out to camp commandants emphasizing that prisoners capable of work were not to be included under 14f13. (The decision to keep workers may have been somewhat affected by the fact that remaining T4 facilities were full.) And in April, as more camp inmates were being pressed into armaments work, commandants were even told that only the truly mentally ill were to be selected for “mustering out” (Ausmusterung). Even the bedridden could be given appropriate tasks. As we shall see in the discussion of Auschwitz, the camps were always involved in conflict between two factions, both of which could be found within the SS bureaucracy. One faction wanted maximum extermination; the other, exploitation of slave labor.14

According to Dr. Hans-Günther Seraphim, an expert witness at several postwar trials, “ruthless extermination” was more likely to have been pushed by the 14f13 physicians’ committees, with their bureaucratic location in Hitler’s Chancellery, than by the concentration camp administration.15 This may well have been true through most of the program’s history. In early 1944, however, 14f13 entered something of another phase as the war continued to take its human toll. The camp at Mauthausen near Linz, for example, had become severely overcrowded and suffered from increasingly unsanitary conditions. The assistance of the  
Medical Killing and the
Psychology of Genocide

Robert J. Lifton
ISBN 0-465-09094
© 1986
Previous Page  Back Page 137 Forward  Next Page