Dr Robert Jay Lifton THE NAZI DOCTORS:
                        Medical Killing and the
                            Psychology of Genocide ©
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Selections in the Camp 
[chil…] dren and caressed them tenderly. The little ones . .. . wept with their mothers and held on to them. But, . . . when several SS leaders-among them Lagerführer Schwarzhuber and Dr. Mengele — appeared in the doorway of the changing room, those standing near flew into a rage. Suffering and sorrow gave way to unrestrained hatred for those men ....

After a while I heard the sound of piercing screams, banging against the door, and also moaning and wailing. People began to cough. Their coughing grew worse from minute to minute, a sign that the gas had started to act. Then the clamour began to subside and to change to a many-voiced dull rattle, drowned now and then by coughing. . .

It seemed to me that today death came more swiftly than usual. Barely ten minutes had passed since the introduction of the gas crystals when there was quiet in the gas chamber.8 
When this member of the Sonderkommando came down on the elevator from the crematorium with a few of his fellow-prisoner workers, he found the camp commander (head of the subcamp) and Mengele standing just outside the gas chamber: 
The doctor was just switching on the light. Then he bent forward and peered through a peep-hole in the door to ascertain whether there was still any signs of life inside. After a while he ordered the Kommandoführer, to switch on the fans which were to disperse the gas. When they had run for a few minutes, the door to [the] gas chamber, which was secured with a few horizontal bolts, was opened.9  
SS doctors were similarly involved — again especially Mengele — in the killing of the four thousand inhabitants of the Gypsy camp on 1 August 1944 (see also page 375). Mengele was chief doctor of that camp, and so active was he in the annihilation process that many prisoners I spoke to assumed that he himself was responsible for it and had given the specific order. There is evidence that he actually opposed that annihilation; but once it was ordered, he applied extraordinary energy toward carrying it out (see page 323).

Prisoner doctors who had worked there at the time told me that Mengele seemed to be all over the camp at once that day, actively supervising arrangements for getting the Gypsies to the gas chamber. He had been close to some of the Gypsy children — bringing them food and candy, sometimes little toys, and taking them for brief outings. Whenever he appeared, they would greet him warmly with the cry, “Onkel [‘Uncle’] Mengele! ” But that day the children were frightened. Dr. Alexander O. described the scene and one child’s plea to Mengele: 
Mengele arrived at around eight o’clock or seven-thirty. It was daylight. He came, and then the children .... A Gypsy girl of eleven, twelve, . . . the oldest [child] of a whole family — maybe thirteen, with
Medical Killing and the
Psychology of Genocide

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