Dr Robert Jay Lifton THE NAZI DOCTORS:
                        Medical Killing and the
                            Psychology of Genocide ©
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Selections on the Ramp 
dead, and “at the time of the liberation, fourteen of us [fewer than 2 percent] were still alive.”

Twins, too, were separated out, since Mengele was collecting twins for study. At selections there were shouted orders: “Zwillinge raus!” (“Twins, out!”) and “Zwillinge heraustreteb!” (“Twins, step forward!”). One woman who arrived in her teens with her twin sister and their mother heard that call, to which her mother responded; indeed the next day an experienced prisoner told them, “It's because you’re a twin that you have a chance to stay alive.”

There were tragic efforts to protect family members that had the reverse effect and left surviving inmates with especially painful feelings of guilt. A woman who arrived at the age of seventeen told how she was placed in a group with her little sister, four years younger than she. Seeing that the child was confused, “I practically pushed her” toward the line with their mother and grandmother, telling the SS people, “Her mother is over there.” Unknown to her, that line was going to the gas chamber: “This is what I have to live with.”

A similarly painful story was told by Dr. Abraham C., a radiologist, who arrived with his wife on a cold night and gave her his parka to wear and his scarf to put over her head. Because, he recalled, “she looked like a little old lady,” she was ordered to the line that went to the gas chamber. “So in a way it was because of the precautions I took for her that she was put on the wrong side because otherwise — she was young, active, and should have been among the thirty or forty young women who went to the camp alive.” 
The Sequence of Killing  
These incidents stemmed directly from manipulations and deceptions promulgated by Nazi doctors. The truth they were concealing was to be found in the gas chambers and crematoria and has been described by a Polish Jew who spent most of his ten months in Auschwitz from March 1944 working as a member of the Sonderkommando. Such direct testimony is rare because members of that Kommando were usually killed after a certain time in order to eliminate witnesses, a fate this man escaped from only because of the liberation of the camp by the Russian army.* He tells how camp policy shifted from early brutality to “another method that made their work easier by telling the new arrivals that they had to take a shower to be clean after the long trip.” Now it became the task of the Jews in the Sonderkommando to “calm the people [arrivals headed for the gas chamber].” These Jews engaged in this deception because they “were
* Members of the Sonderkommando could be permitted to survive because of their technical skills, or because of the general confusion during the last months of the camp.   
Medical Killing and the
Psychology of Genocide

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