Dr Robert Jay Lifton THE NAZI DOCTORS:
                        Medical Killing and the
                            Psychology of Genocide ©
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Selections in the Camp 
kind. Moreover, as Dr. Fejkiel went on to explain, the average diet in Auschwitz permitted a prisoner, to remain alive no more than three months, after which time symptoms of emaciation and "hunger disease" set in; and the early hospital blocks served as places “where the people suffering from the hunger disease could spend the time from the beginning of the sickness until their death”10 In that sense, the medical blocks became a particularly direct means of maintaining the murderous ecology of the camp.

In terms of general Auschwitz function, medical blocks remained a contradiction. In the face of camp conditions and the near-starvation diet, they could not contribute significantly to the health of the work force; and enough Jews arrived constantly to replace weaker members of that force. The medical blocks probably existed because of prior concentration-camp practice, concern about epidemics, the professional and psychological inclinations of Nazi doctors, and above all the broad Nazi impulse toward medical legitimation of killing.

With the arrival of Eduard Wirths as chief SS physician in September 1942, and the increasing official emphasis on the working capacity of large numbers of prisoners, medical facilities were considerably expanded and improved. Prisoner doctors were permitted to do real medical work; responsible political prisoners (many of them German Communists) replaced the often brutal criminal prisoners in important medically related positions; and SS doctors, for the most part, lent their support to these developments. Yet at precisely the same time, the mass murder of Jews was also expanded to reach its most extreme proportions, and SS doctors were major coordinating figures. They “did everything the command wished”: that is, “cooperated closely ... in the annihilation of the prisoners, and simultaneously did everything to make believe that they administered the proper medical treatment and in such away they helped to conceal various crimes.” Their falsifications included certification of the food rations as sufficient for life as well as the subsequent death, certificates (required for prisoners admitted to the camp).11

I. G. Farben contributed a significant economic dimension to Auschwitz murder-triage. In March 1941, it agreed to pay the SS three Reichsmarks a day for each unskilled concentration-camp inmate and four Reichsmarks for skilled inmates. The price set for children was one and one-half Reichsmarks. I. G. Farben representatives sometimes complained about SS brutality to prisoners insofar as it impeded their work (though also sympathizing with the SS position that “only brute force has any effect on these people,” and “it is impossible to get any work done without corporal punishment”); but perhaps the main complaint was that “transports from Berlin [meaning Berlin authority] continued to have so many women and children as well as old Jews” (that is, not enough able-bodied male workers). And by September 1942, I. G. Farben was running its own concentration camp at Monowitz.12

This I. G. Farben-SS collaboration departed from “the conventional  
Medical Killing and the
Psychology of Genocide

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