Dr Robert Jay Lifton THE NAZI DOCTORS:
                        Medical Killing and the
                            Psychology of Genocide ©
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civilized and sent trucks for the sick, the old, the children and the women. They actually thought the Germans were not that bad. But the healthy went to the camp and the trucks to the gas. People chased the trucks [saying they had] diabetes or a heart condition. They should have gone into the camp but they, thought the trucks were better.
Even Dr. Q. and fellow prisoner physicians could be deceived: “It took us a while to realize that the doctors ... took part in it all.”  
SS Doctors: Professional Arrangements 
Selections were conducted, from within a medical hierarchy, by camp physicians (Lagerärzte) under the direct authority of the Auschwitz chief doctor, or garrison physician (Standortarzt). The latter — who was Eduard Wirths (see chapter 18) for most of the period we are concerned with — operated within two separate chains of command. He was subordinate to the chief concentration-camp physician of the SS Economic and Administrative Department, or WVHA. This position was held from 1942 by Enno Lolling, who was stationed in Berlin but came frequently to Auschwitz and other camps. At the same time, Wirths was also subject to the authority of the camp commandant, with whom he dealt regularly on a day-to-day basis.*

Other doctors had different duties and different chains of command and were not expected to perform selections. These included the troop physicians (Truppenärzte) who took care of SS personnel; doctors who were sent to Auschwitz specifically to do experiments on inmates (notably Carl Clauberg and Horst Schumann) and tended to have more direct ties with Himmler; and doctors who belonged to the local camp Hygienic Institute, located outside the main camp and part of a chain of command separate from either that of the camp doctors or the camp commandant. The Hygienic Institute was officially concerned with questions of epidemiology and bacteriology and was installed in Auschwitz after an extensive typhus epidemic in 1942.

“Medical activity in Auschwitz consisted only of selecting people for the gas chamber” was the way that Dr. Ernst B., who had been there, expressed the matter to me. (I discuss Dr. B. at length in chapter 16.) Certainly what was called “ramp duty” was a central function of Auschwitz camp doctors. Generally about seven SS doctors shared that duty, and their performing selections was considered a matter of military jurisdiction: within the military-institutional structure, selections were a medical task only they were considered competent to perform.

The principle — established from above — that only doctors should se- […lect]
* This double chain of authority was characteristic of Nazi bureaucracy — often involving the hierarchy of both one’s immediate institution and the Party itself for an affiliate structure.  
Medical Killing and the
Psychology of Genocide

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