Dr Robert Jay Lifton THE NAZI DOCTORS:
                        Medical Killing and the
                            Psychology of Genocide ©
 
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Selections on the Ramp  
 
killed. Wirths and Höss constantly consulted about such matters, and there was known to be considerable disagreement and tension between the two men. Wirths constantly sought better medical facilities, while Höss was preoccupied with facilities for maximum efficiency in mass murder. According to Dr. B., they conferred on many things, including especially those that could “go wrong.”

One of the things that could go wrong was for officers other than physicians to conduct selections illegally: either because they represented the Reich Security (police) position (Eichmann) and wanted to see all Jews killed, or because they represented the views of the economic and administrative division and wanted to keep as many Jews as possible alive for work. Höss claimed that medical authority supported his own police position of maximum killing: 
 
The Reichsarzt SS [Grawitz] … held the view that only those Jews who were completely fit and able to work should be selected for employment. The weak and the old and those who were only relatively robust would very soon become incapable of work, which would case a further deterioration in the general standard of health, and an unnecessary increase in the hospital accommodation, requiring further medical personnel and medicines, and all for no purpose since they would in the end have to be killed . . . .

I myself held the view that only really strong and healthy Jews ought to be selected for employment.14
The conflict within the SS was never fully resolved. In way, it did not have to be. Advocates of maximum murder could take satisfaction in the killing of overwhelming numbers of arriving Jews; selections provided the slave-labor advocates with their slaves. And doctors’ recommendations were met by both tendencies: the extensive killing prevented overcrowding; and the selections, by providing stronger inmates, eased the doctors’ task of maintaining the health of the inmate population.

They could in fact come to see their physician’s task, as Dr. B. said, as rendering the killing “humane”: "The discussion [among doctors] was about how the matter could be carried out humanely [die Sache human durchgeführt]. That was the problem of the physician .... The discussion about the possibility of humanity [in killing], . . . [of] humanitarian [methods in the face of] ... the general overload of the apparatus — that was the problem.” 
 
 
A Regular Job”  
 
The selections became simply “a part of their life,” as a prisoner doctor, Jacob R. commented to me. And Dr. B., too, noted that, whatever reservations SS doctors had at first, they soon viewed selections as “normal duty,” as “a regular job.” Indeed within the Auschwitz atmosphere,  
 
THE NAZI DOCTORS:
Medical Killing and the
Psychology of Genocide

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