Dr Robert Jay Lifton THE NAZI DOCTORS:
                        Medical Killing and the
                            Psychology of Genocide ©
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Socialization to Killing 
everyone else's point of view ... there [was] no longer any discussion [of it].” And at that point one became an “insider.”

Dr. B. summed up, with considerable feeling, the extremity — and mystery — of this transition process:  
When you see a selection for the first time — I’m not talking only about myself, I'm talking about even the most hardened SS people, ... you see,    . . .   how children and women are selected. Then you are so shocked ... that it just cannot be described. And after a few weeks one can be accustomed to it [kann man es gewöhnen; also suggests becoming inured]. And that [process, change] cannot be explained to anybody. But it is the same phenomenon that takes place right now in terrorists, in relation to close terrorist groups .... And one can ... only experience [it to know it]. The expert can record it, but he cannot enter into it [nachempfinden; “know it from the inside”] .... But I think I can give you a kind of impression of it. When you have gone into a slaughterhouse where animals are being slaughtered, . . . the smell is also a part of it [es gehört auch der Gauch; literally, “the smell is what is required (for your reaction)”], . . . not just the fact that they [the cattle] fall over [dead] and so forth. A steak will probably not taste good to us afterward. And when you do that [stay in the situation] every day for two weeks, then your steak again tastes as good as before.
The slaughterhouse example is all too apt, but Dr. B. was struggling to convey both an explanation and his retrospective awe and anxiety at the fact of such a psychological transition.

But, as he also explained, doctors inwardly wanted to make that transition because of the great urge to become an insider. For in so extraordinary a situation, he implied, personal isolation would be intolerable, and one would become desperate to “establish contact somehow” with others. Newcomers would seek out men with whom they could identify — because of relatively similar backgrounds and outlooks. For instance, a young doctor who had just joined the SS would seek out men in that category rather than medical “old fighters” who had been in the concentration-camp system for years. There would be shared regional attitudes (such as Bavarian antagonism to Prussians) or educational and class affinities. Sometimes experienced Auschwitz doctors were assigned as mentors to arriving neophytes (in ways I shall discuss), which suggests that the authorities were aware of the pattern of conflict during the early transition experience.
Pressure and Mentorship

At the same time there was constant pressure from above toward maximum involvement in selections, particularly from the spring of 1944 when dentists and pharmacists were also ordered to take their turns on the ramp. One of those dentists later testified that his plea to Wirths that  
Medical Killing and the
Psychology of Genocide

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