Dr Robert Jay Lifton THE NAZI DOCTORS:
                        Medical Killing and the
                            Psychology of Genocide ©
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which, headed by Oswald Pohl, was concerned with economic issues in the use of inmates. In contrast, the Central Security Department of the Reich (Reichssicherheitshauptamt, or RSHA), as the political and police unit, was preoccupied with the brutal detention of prisoners and the mass murder of Jews (see pages 174-75).13

Auschwitz was to become a major source of slave labor serving an enormous I. G. Farben enterprise for the manufacture of synthetic oil and rubber. Indeed the factory site was chosen in early 1941 largely because of its accessibility to the camp and to resources of coal and water. The overall operation became known as I. G. Auschwitz. Auschwitz inmates were working on the construction of that factory, known as I. G. Buna,* even before the establishment of the subsidiary camp at Birkenau where most of the killing was done. During 1942, I. G. Farben setup its own outer camp at Monowitz, still part of the overall Auschwitz constellation. This facility was meant to increase Farben’s control over labor, to lower expenses, and to reduce the loss of time and energy in marching to the work site. In the Monowitz economy, Farben was responsible for food, housing, and medical care; the SS, for security and punishment. There was always close liaison between camp authorities and I. G. Farben officials in the brutal exploitation of inmates, who generally worked from three or four in the morning until evening darkness on close to a starvation diet (see pages 187-88). But whatever measures they took either to abuse the prisoners further or slightly improve their lot, work efficiency was always poor.14

From early 1943, other big firms joined I. G. Farben in exploiting Auschwitz labor. These included Krupp, which moved a bombed-out fuse plant to Auschwitz; the Hermann Göring Works (coal mines); Siemens-Schuckert (electrical parts); and the Jägerstab (Pursuit Planes Staff) from the Speer ministry, whose attempts in 1944 to recruit inmates for the construction of underground aircraft factories were hampered by the increasing shortage of prisoners capable of working. These and other firms drew mostly upon inmates of Monowitz (known as Auschwitz III) and set up a network of satellite camps for miles around.15

Höss has made the point that, because of the official policy of keeping significant numbers of prisoners alive in order to work, “Auschwitz became a Jewish camp ... a collecting place for Jews, exceeding in scale anything previously known.”16 But in actuality, since most Jews were killed on arrival, they probably did not begin to constitute a majority of camp inmates until 1944, and even then remained dominated in the prisoner hierarchy by smaller groups of Germans (political prisoners and ordinary criminals) and Poles. The work function required not only large-scale selections to deter- […mine]
* Buna, a synthetic rubber developed by I. G. Farben, was made experimentally first from coal and later from oil.

† In initial discussions between the SS and Farben, it was estimated that efficiency of no more than 75 percent (compared with German workers) could be expected from slave laborers; in practice, they were less than one-third as efficient.   
Medical Killing and the
Psychology of Genocide

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