Dr Robert Jay Lifton THE NAZI DOCTORS:
                        Medical Killing and the
                            Psychology of Genocide ©
 
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AUSCHWITZ: THE RACIAL CURE 
 
malnutrition sometimes they grow less. “Onkel Mengele [she calls], my little brother cries himself to death. We do not know where our mother is. He cries himself to death, Onkel Mengele!” Where did she go to complain? To Mengele — to the one she loves and knows she is loved by, because he loved them. His answer: “Willst du die Schnauze halten!” . . . He said it in a common, vulgar, way. . . but ... with a sort of tenderness: . . . “Why don't you shut your little trap!”
Others told how Mengele combed the blocks, tracking down Gypsy children who had hidden, and how he himself transported a group of those children in a car to the gas chamber — drawing upon their trust for him and speaking tenderly and reassuringly to them until the end.

With the adults it was a little different. Dr. Alexander O. remembered their protesting that they had “fought for Germany.” Another prisoner physician, recalling a Blocksperre, said, “Whenever I see a picture of Dracula, I think of Mengele running through the Zigeuner [Gypsy] camp — just like Dracula .. . . We could hear the terrible crying from the beating and torturing as they put the Gypsies on those cars . . . . [On nearby blocks] they were crying and shouting, ‘We are worried that Mengele and his assistants will come and burn us.’”
 
 
Medical-Block Selections: The Triage of Killing 
 
Nazi doctors were best observed — and perhaps most revealingly — when selecting on the medical blocks. In those selections, the SS doctor performed his healing-killing reversal within a medical context. They were therefore a key to medicalized killing and a special truth of Auschwitz. Selections on a medical block were a murderous caricature of triage: the doctor sorted out the sick and the weak to be fed to the killing machinery.

A leading Polish prisoner physician, Wiadyslaw Fejkiel, described the “main purpose” of the Auschwitz “health service” as serving “as a link in the mass extermination campaign.” “Outpatient centers” were a “place for selections”; and hospital areas, “waiting rooms before death.” Auschwitz hospitals, in his view, also provided medical legitimation: “If somebody learned about the existence in the camp of the[se] ... institutions, it was impossible for him to believe that the inmates were subjected to starvation, terror, or mass murder.” There was also the function of isolating the sick, especially those with contagious diseases, in order to “prevent possible epidemics, which could affect the SS personnel and the civilian slave labour, employed by the German industry, attached to the camp.” The additional function of the medical blocks became the provision of some actual treatment for those slave laborers, the prisoners who worked in the camp. But, during the early phase of Auschwitz, there was virtually no such treatment available, and limited medical practice of any
 
THE NAZI DOCTORS:
Medical Killing and the
Psychology of Genocide

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