Dr Robert Jay Lifton THE NAZI DOCTORS:
                        Medical Killing and the
                            Psychology of Genocide ©
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Selections in the Camp 
“You!, you!, you! - out!” The ones from the back had to move forward so as to make the row five again ....

And the same reception committee as you walked back at six o’clock at night .... We were too damned pooped [after a full day of hard physical work] to do anything! ... And then had to trot in, the whole time, and they selected you as you trotted into the gates. And believe me, I didn't feel like trotting .... .We know that the doctor was part of it.
Selections were sometimes done on a sacred Jewish holiday or on a day of shared celebration, such as Christmas. This survivor, herself Jewish but promoted to work in a clerical group of mostly Polish non-Jews, told of “[sitting around] ... the Christmas tree [in 1943] and singing Christmas carols, and ... probably three or four trucks going right by there into the gas.”

Prisoner doctors, though likely to be protected from late 1942 and early 1943, could, if perceived as weak or sick, be selected with other prisoners. But they were better able than others to study the selections process and find ways to survive it.

Prisoners resorted to every possible device to create the appearance of health, strength; and, above all, ability to work. Some stuffed rags under their clothes to look fatter (when not required to strip); others rubbed whatever substance they could find on their faces, or simply massaged their faces briskly, to overcome pallor and produce color; and everyone tried to make vigorous physical motions (trotting or running in place) quite beyond what they considered their capacity at the time. Marianne F. explained to me that, without understanding just why or how, “I kept a determined grin on my face . . . [and] was determined never to show fear,” and took pains to get her teeth brushed and to wash her face — all part of the extraordinary effort called forth by certain prisoners to stay alive.

Some women tried to drape their clothes in ways that would hide pregnancy (which for Jewish women meant being sent to the gas), and some had secret abortions by Jewish prisoner doctors. One woman told how Mengele asked her suspiciously whether, she were pregnant, and said, if she was, “I will send you to another place with better conditions”; she claimed to have answered, “From what?” and was spared.6

The message prisoners fought against was articulated by a Rumanian-Jewish survivor: “Everybody said to us: ‘Because you're dirty you have to die’” — the word “dirty” standing for every impurity assigned to Jews that necessitated their annihilation.

And frequently prisoners, particularly doctors, attempted to save a few people by manipulating records and reports and especially camp numbers. Wolken told how he cooperated with a Jewish clerk in saving people who had already been selected: by assigning them the numbers of dead people, by removing the names of people when possible from the list of  
Medical Killing and the
Psychology of Genocide

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