Dr Robert Jay Lifton THE NAZI DOCTORS:
                        Medical Killing and the
                            Psychology of Genocide ©
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Bringing “Euthanasia ” to the Camps  
camps. Morgen distinguished between illegal and legal forms of killing in them. As legal, he mentioned “those cases where physicians, upon their personal decisions, relieve incurably ill patients from their suffering by administering a drug for mercy killing.” And, in the next sentence, he added, “The same applies to those cases where physicians acted in a state of emergency where they killed victims of epidemics and those who could be suspected to have been infected, and killed them painlessly, in order to prevent mass deaths.”20 Such murder could be easily juxtaposed with “mercy killing” in that both were perceived as medical functions. (In part II, we will observe how such a “preventive” approach to epidemics was systematically pursued as part of mass murder.)

With the exception of Auschwitz, all camps where 14f13 was operative (for example, Dachau, Sachsenhausen, Ravensbrück) were of the standard kind, within which prisoners were beaten, starved, subjected to slave labor, and often killed; but the overall function of the institution was not mass murder per se. By providing these ordinary camps with killing centers as well as with a corrupt selections process for facilitating mass murder, 14f13 transformed them into functional equivalents of extermination camps. The arrangement could be temporary, or sustained as in the case of Mauthausen and Hartheim. T4 doctors made extensive selections at Mauthausen during the early part of 14f13; subsequently, Mauthausen camp doctors did the selections for people to be killed at Hartheim. The connection continued until the center was dismantled, when the order came not from the SS but from Hitler’s Chancellery, specifically from Viktor Brack, central administrator of the “euthanasia” program.21

Ultimately, then, 14f13 provided for virtually unlimited application of the “euthanasia” program — especially to Jews, but also to Gypsies, Russians, Poles, and other Germans. The Nazi message — for victims, for possible observers, and mostly for themselves — was: all our killing is medical, medically indicated, and carried out by doctors. The 14f13 project is thought to have killed more than twenty thousand people, but the concepts and policies it furthered contributed to the death of millions. 
An Inside View of 14f13: Friedrich Mennecke 
The series of letters Dr. Friedrich Mennecke wrote to his wife (herself a T4 laboratory assistant) from the various concentration camps he visited provide an inside view of 14f13; appropriately enough, these letters were often written on the back of printed “euthanasia” questionnaires.

Mennecke was an ardent Nazi, having joined both the Party and the SS in 1932 and served as a deputy Party leader in his area — somewhat unusual for a medical man, as was his background as the son of a bricklayer. He claimed, in Party correspondence, strong professional involvement in “hereditary biology” and sterilization. He had just three years of
Medical Killing and the
Psychology of Genocide

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