Dr Robert Jay Lifton THE NAZI DOCTORS:
                        Medical Killing and the
                            Psychology of Genocide ©
  Page 194  
Previous Page

Home Page
Home Page  
   Next Page
Moreover, for some of the long-standing SS doctors, the selections process was an improvement over earlier camp conditions: 
There were old-timers who had experienced much worse things than selections earlier on — personally beating someone to death and such things .... [The duty] was disliked, unpleasant. Yet the real old-timers who were around at the introduction of these selections, who experienced the time when people just expired in the camps and the prisoners beat one another to death or beat to death those who were dying or were suspected of having typhus.* ... For them the selections were practically — one can't quite say relief — but in any case a situation that had improved. It got better — things were systematized. 
Newcomers who had not experienced those earlier brutal camp conditions “suffered initially” at the selections, but “then it got to be routine — like all other routines in Auschwitz.” SS doctors rarely made selections a topic of conversation: “If they did, it might be to complain .... Someone might feel cheated if he had to stand one more night more often [than the others], or if he were not relieved [from duty when he was supposed to be] or the like.”
Adaptation: From Outsider to Insider 
A survivor and leading chronicler of Auschwitz. Hermann Langbein classified Nazi doctors as falling into three categories: zealots who participated eagerly in the extermination process and even did “extra work” on behalf of killing; those who went about the process more or less methodically and did no more and no less than they felt they had to do; and those who participated in the extermination process only reluctantly.² Langbein referred mainly to selections within the camp, which could be observed closely by prisoner physicians and certain other inmates (he himself observed a great deal as Wirths’s secretary). But those differing attitudes applied to ramp selections as well — both in the drinking patterns just described and in overall ramp “styles.”

For instance another survivor contrasted the style of Dr. Franz Lucas, generally acknowledged to be a reluctant participant with that of Josef  
* Dr. K., though mostly accurate about Auschwitz details, tended at times, as here, to stress the brutalized behavior of prisoners while minimizing that of SS men. 
Medical Killing and the
Psychology of Genocide

Robert J. Lifton
ISBN 0-465-09094
© 1986
Previous Page  Back Page 194 Forward  Next Page