|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.
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.
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