Dr Robert Jay Lifton THE NAZI DOCTORS:
                        Medical Killing and the
                            Psychology of Genocide ©
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The Auschwitz Institution  
[deter…] mine which prisoners would be killed immediately and which permitted to work and thus live a while longer,* but also a functioning medical block where prisoners could be treated by prisoner doctors. Indeed, Auschwitz, more than any other camp, reflected the inner Nazi struggle between pragmatic strengthening (through forced labor on war work) and visionary murder. But however elaborate the work arrangements became, they remained secondary to the camp's killing function. 
Auschwitz as Annihilation Camp 
The annihilation camp emerged in late 194 1 and early 1942 . There were six such camps in Poland: Chelmno (Kulmhof), Belzec, Sobibór, Treblinka, Majdanek, and Auschwitz. The first four devoted themselves exclusively to the killing function, though sometimes only Chelmno and Belzec are viewed as “pure killing camps,” since minor industrial activity with forced labor was conducted at Treblinka and at least planned at Sobibór. But only Auschwitz and Majdanek combined a significant amount of forced labor with the systematic killing function. The four exclusively death camps were run by SS police units, not by the economic and administrative division of the SS that ran Auschwitz. And unlike Auschwitz, much of their killing equipment and personnel (with the added exception of Chelmno) came directly from the “euthanasia” program, including the carbon monoxide gas chambers and the killing-center staff. A great deal of the early installation and function of their killing apparatus was in fact supervised by Christian Wirth, who had done the same for the T4 killing centers (see page 71).18

Auschwitz marked a radical escalation in both the vision and the technology of mass murder. The biological image was intricately involved in the Auschwitz vision as revealed by Höss’s recollection of Himmler’s description of the purpose of the camp: 
Jews are the eternal enemies of the German people and must be exterminated. All Jews within our grasp are to be destroyed without exception, now, during the war. If we do not succeed in destroying the biological substance of the Jews, the Jews will some day destroy the German people.19 
As Höss recalled, he had been “suddenly summoned” by Himmler in the summer of 1941 and told, “The Führer has ordered that the Jewish question be solved once and for all and that we, the SS, are to implement that order,” Himmler explained that existing extermination centers in the East could not carry out “the large actions which are anticipated.”
* The life expectancy of Jewish workers at the Farben works was three or four months; in the outlying mines, about one month.17   
Medical Killing and the
Psychology of Genocide

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