Dr Robert Jay Lifton THE NAZI DOCTORS:
                        Medical Killing and the
                            Psychology of Genocide ©
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Selections in the Camp  
The medical block was not only the locale for selections but also the place where records were kept. A Polish woman survivor who had done clerical work on a medical block, told how “we had files … a record of every person’s death — when the death machine was operating full blast. We knew everything.” This woman’s medical block kept a file on all female inmates of the camp, and inmates responsible for it “were ordered to cross out … those women [designated for the crematoria] as ‘transferred.’” In other words, the medical block was the final common pathway for Auschwitz death control, and the book in which all was written.

It was also an autonomous unit within the camp, technically subject only to the authority of the camp doctor and his SDG assistants, and not even to command authority.

But the authority of the SS doctor could be quickly murderous, as Dr. Robert Levy described in a later article: “On January 21, 1944, in my surgical block, because of the irrevocable decision of SS physician Thilo, I lost in a few instants 96 of my 100 patients.”18

At the Frankfurt Auschwitz trial of 1963-64, the sequence of a selection on the medical block was accurately summarized:  
Between 8:00 and 9:00 A.M. the SS camp doctor [Friedrich Entress] appeared … [and] went to the doctor's room in Block 21 …. After his correspondence was taken care of, he went with [Josef] Klehr [a notorious SDG noncommissioned officer, implicated in murder on many levels (see pages 265-67)] to the outpatient room in Block 28. There he had new sick patients brought to him …. The prisoner doctor stated his diagnosis. The camp doctor just looked at the sick person quickly and with a glance at the index card given him by the prisoner doctor or nurse, saw whether the person was Jewish or not. Then he decided immediately what was to happen to the prisoner; either to keep him in the hospital or send him back to the barracks, or for “Sonderbehandlung” (“special handling”) which meant killing by phenol. Only Jewish prisoners were given “Sonderbehandlung” and especially those who looked weak (Muselmänner) or had a sick condition that made it unlikely they would be able to return to work soon …. Sometimes Dr. Entress put the cards of the “examined” prisoners in various piles. Everyone in the know [SS assistants, prisoner doctor, etc.] … understood which pile contained the cards of the prisoners destined for Sonderbehandlung …, Many [of the prisoners selected] suspected nothing …. Others had an idea that they would be killed because despite strictest secrecy, it leaked through the camp that prisoners were murdered in Block 20 with phenol injections given by Klehr. That's why many Jewish prisoners only reported sick in extreme emergency.19
Some commentators differentiated between “small selections” and “large selections” on the hospital blocks. In the smaller kind, as just  
Medical Killing and the
Psychology of Genocide

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