Dr Robert Jay Lifton THE NAZI DOCTORS:
                        Medical Killing and the
                            Psychology of Genocide ©
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Bringing “Euthanasia” to the Camps 
One of the ways Mennecke continued to function in the face of his awareness of that fraudulence was by condemning what he took to be excess within the project (“[Dr. Hans] Gorgass ... is said to have behaved dreadfully while at Buchenwald .... he supposedly acted more like a butcher than a doctor, thereby damaging the reputation of our whole operation. We will now have to iron out these wrinkles” [25 November 1941]). By contrast, Mennecke implied a dignified professionalism for himself and a good medical reputation for the project.

Like many involved in medical murder, he condemned “Berlin” — meaning the project leaders — for pressing him too hard: “In Berlin (Jennerwein!)* the word is simply do 2,000 more — whether or not so many come under the basic guidelines does not seem to bother anyone!” (20 November 1941). And he developed the submissive bureaucrat’s anger toward inefficiency from above — which, in this case, required him to return to certain camps a second time. But expressing sentiments like “Today Berlin's disorganization hit a high point” may have provided precisely the outlet for feelings that enabled him to carry on with the work. Even. more important in sustaining him was the opportunity to hobnob with the same “Berlin” élite at luxury hotels, such as Munich’s Bayerisches Hof: “We went to the train station at 7:00 P.M. to pick up Professor Nitsche (and Professor Heyde) as well as Frau Nitsche” (3 September 1941). “[Heyde] was very, very friendly . . . . [Professor Nitsche] was very, very cordial and asked about you.” Mennecke was beside himself with pleasure when praised and treated collegially: “Heyde also spoke very highly of my work .... I discussed with him several interesting points pertaining to our work” (19 November 1941). That suggestion of paternal approval, of merging with authority, and of confirmed professional-medical standing helped Mennecke maintain his callousness: “A second batch of 1,200 Jews followed [a smaller group of non-Jews], but they did not have to be ‘examined’” (25 November 1941).

That numbing becomes an important part of a “medical killing self” that more or less separates from the rest of the self in the process of doubling which I shall examine in connection with the Auschwitz doctors. Important to the process is the affirmation of his prior self through endearments to his wife: “Next time my Mutti [‘Mommy’] is coming along . . . . Most affectionate kisses from your devoted Vati [‘Daddy’] . .. . dear little kisses from your always devoted Fritz-Pa.” Pleasant social  
* Jennerwein was the code name for T4 chief administrator Brack. Since Brack was not a physician, Mennecke’s resentment here may be partly directed at some perceived “non-medical” ignorance or unreasonableness. It is difficult to say what he meant by the “basic guidelines” being violated. It is likely that these had to do with ability to work, and that T4 officials were pressing for more and more nonworkers (or inmates judged inadequate workers) to be included in the net. 
Medical Killing and the
Psychology of Genocide

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