Dr Robert Jay Lifton THE NAZI DOCTORS:
                        Medical Killing and the
                            Psychology of Genocide ©
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thing. I heard it. And I went out. I was not thinking ... that it was something special. I was thinking maybe ... it means something . ... But I would stress the fact that I owe my life to be[ing] a doctor. That I owe to my parents [who had little money and sacrificed to give me an education]. I have never thanked them for this ... That's also a feeling of guilt, you see .... But ... [from] the gas chamber, they saved my life.

On hour later someone told us that the rest of our transport was gassed. There you get a shock. What is normal? If you hear, Gott behüte [“God forbid”] that there should be a phone call that your wife and your children are gone, what's the normal reaction? ... And so I heard my wife, my child, my parents, my parents-in-law, my sister — they were killed. And still I want to live. And you can say, [it’s] Freud’s Selbsterhaltungstrieb, or Lebenstrieb [“instinct of self-preservation,” or “life instinct”], or how you call it, but it is impossible to understand. It’s so difficult to accept. That there is not a moment in life that you can say no. This is the end .... You hear your whole family is gassed. And one hour later they were calling again, “Doctors, antreten [‘line up’]” and I went. 
Some arriving doctors, having heard that the Nazis tended to kill the intelligentsia and wanted only people capable of physical labor, were reluctant to reveal that they were physicians — as one described upon arrival in Auschwitz in November 1943: 
So I hear that they are asking ... age and profession. And I heard that all who say some physical profession or physical work, they are going not with the elderly people and not to the trucks. So when I came there I stand with the military way of standing and I say my age and that I am [a] concrete worker .... And when we arrived at the camp then the clerks who were prisoners too took different details name and then profession And then one of them, a Jew, said “If there are some doctors among them don’t be afraid. Say that you are doctors because doctors are now needed.” It's no more extermination of doctors. Because before there was total extermination of doctors, and not only doctors ... but — how do you call it? — ... intelligentsia, . . . people who study to be professionals .... And [only] then I said ... that I am a medical doctor.
As many survivors told me at the time of selections. “they called out for doctors and twins.” But being permitted to live as a doctor meant that one witnessed others’ deaths. Thus one prisoner doctor, Henri Q., who arrived in July 1942 when selections had not yet been formally instituted but conditions in the camp were at their most brutal, told how within a month 90 percent of the eight hundred people on his transport were  
Medical Killing and the
Psychology of Genocide

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