Dr Robert Jay Lifton THE NAZI DOCTORS:
                        Medical Killing and the
                            Psychology of Genocide ©
  Page 191  
Previous Page

Home Page
Home Page  
   Next Page
Selections in the Camp 
They are all in torment, groaning, hungry, thirsty, shivering from cold under their meager coverings and yet fighting for their pitiful lives.21
The French-trained prisoner doctor, Alexander O., described an equivalent situation on the men’s side: 
We had mostly Jews to take care of, . . .the“‘convalescence’ ward” on the second floor of Block 20. The room was called the“diarrhea room,” and there we would get patients who for the most part had edemas of the lower limbs which we would call “general weakness.” Almost all of them had ulcers, ulcers that did not heal because of the edema in the legs. So all these patients, classified as ill; were simply waiting their turn to go to the gas. 
Dr. O. went on to tell how, when a selection was expected soon after his arrival on that ward, he had been confused by his prisoner colleague’s insistence that he urge inmates to get down off their bunks, even beat them if necessary: this, it turned out, was the only way to save their lives. After the two doctors had managed to get all but a few of the patients down, the selection began: 
They announced, “Achtung, Lagerarzt! [‘Attention, camp doctor!’].” A young man, nicely built, thin, tall, an SS officer, came in, followed by noncommissioned officer. These were called ... let us say medical staff, with a caduceus .... All, in turn — naked — go before the doctor, running past him, chest out, in a very military fashion .... Whoever has not seen this military bearing in a skeleton does not know what degradation and contempt are .... If a skeleton walks stooped over, slowly, slowly, that is a skeleton presenting a normal appearance, one might say even a decent appearance. But to see this procession of skeletons marching at a military pace, chest out, shoulders thrown back, and coming to a stop abruptly — well, it is something saddening, debasing, beyond description. A skeleton marching that way — the edema [fluid] in the scrotum swinging, the completely emaciated scrotum swinging — that is something one cannot forget. 
In order to avoid being deceived by prisoner doctors’ attempts to save lives, the more fanatical and vicious SS doctors, such as Friedrich Entress, created what became known, according to a survivor and nonmedical scientist, as the “negative selection”: “That is, he picked the healthiest-looking in order to uncover the ones hidden by block personnel — to uncover deceptions of one kind or another. The SS never discovered a foolproof way of preventing these deceptions. Entress did not do it often — but he did do it. He was the only man I knew of who did that negative selection.”  
Medical Killing and the
Psychology of Genocide

Robert J. Lifton
ISBN 0-465-09094
© 1986
Previous Page  Back Page 191 Forward  Next Page