Dr Robert Jay Lifton THE NAZI DOCTORS:
                        Medical Killing and the
                            Psychology of Genocide ©
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economics of slavery” (where the slave is “capital equipment to be maintained and serviced for optimal use” with gradual “depreciation” over a full lifespan) and instead 
reduced slave labor ro a consumable raw material, a human ore from which the mineral of life was systematically extracted. When no usable energy remained, the living dross was shipped to the gassing chambers and cremation furnaces of the extermination center at Birkenau, where the SS recycled it into the German war economy — gold teeth for the Reichsbank, hair for mattresses …. Even the moan of the doomed became a work incentive, exhorting the remaining inmates to greater effort.13 
The whole process was consistent with the official Nazi policy — applicable to all “asocial elements” (including Auschwitz inmates) — of Vernichtung durch Arbeit (“destruction through work”) which in practice meant literally working people to death.14

Although I. G. Farben was forced to expand its hospital facilities in Monowitz, it established a rule that no more than 5 percent of the inmates could be kept in those facilities at any one time. And within that 5 percent, patients had to be able (in the estimate of doctors) to return to work within fourteen days — or else be sent to the gas (I.G. Farben records used the euphemism nach Birkenau, or “to Birkenau”). The two-week criterion carried considerable weight because I. G. Farben was able to establish a policy of ceasing payments to the SS for a particular prisoner after that perion. The arrangement functioned as a kind of “health insurance” that I. G. Farben provided to the institution that, so to speak, owned the slave laborers.15

In coming to these arrangements and carrying them out, I. G. Farben officials mixed with their counterparts in the SS in such pastimes as hunting and ceremonial dinners and the like: for instance, “on December 20 [1941], representatives of the I. G. took part in a Christmas party of the Waffen S.S. which was very festive and ended up alcoholically gay."16 It is likely that SS doctors were involved in some of these fraternal activities.

In late 1942, the Lolling order that all prisoners unable to work were to be killed was extended to include sick prisoners who could not be expected to recover within four weeks. In practice, however, the period of illness permitted was usually no more than two or three weeks. And the number of prisoners in the hospital (in the Auschwitz main camp and Birkenau, as opposed to Monowitz where I. G. Farben set a still more stringent policy) was not to exceed 7 percent of the camp population in the summer and 10 percent in winter.17*
* Sometimes the figure is given as 6 percent. It seems to have been somewhere in the range of 5 percent to 7 percent and there were constant efforts on the part of prisoner doctors to circumvent the rule by surreptitiously keeping in hospitals more than the permissible percentage of inmates.
Medical Killing and the
Psychology of Genocide

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