Dr Robert Jay Lifton THE NAZI DOCTORS:
                        Medical Killing and the
                            Psychology of Genocide ©
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was so troubled that he wondered, “Should one continue to work and help the situation [facilitate the selections in that way] ... or should one quit [get oneself transferred to a work Kommando] and know that another person .... [would be] worse?”

Inmates, especially Jewish inmates, came to know how dangerous the medical block was. A Czech woman survivor, for instance, remembered with gratitude the first piece of advice she received in Auschwitz — “Stay out of the hospital” — and spoke of two forms of suicide in the camp: “To go to the [electric] fence or to go voluntarily to the hospital.” In contrast, for an inmate to be assigned to work in the hospital was ideal: light, indoor work instead of the life-destroying outside work details, more available food, and a place of potential influence. Prisoners working there sought both to help people and to consolidate their own position.

But when medical facilities became severely overburdened, these privileged inmates could come to feel the whole situation as completely untenable, and some prisoner, doctors (as Ernst B. explained to me) “were of the opinion that if a selection is done right, it is better for those involved [selected] than if they starved to death in the camp.” While recognizing again the self-serving aspect of such a statement from an SS doctor, the dedicated prisoner physician Lottie M. confirmed the general principle: 
You saw them arrive .... The line went next to our camp, our sick [block], ... and I said [to myself], “Oh, will they come into the camp or will they go to the gas chamber? If they come to the camp, how awful. No beds, no sheets, no food, nothing. It will be more and more.” You see? And we couldn’t stand it. We always said, “Oh if we are [able to stay at] the number we are now, . . . it’s tolerable. But one more is already too much for us.” So [at] the same time you hope that they won't come [t]here, though you know that if they don't, . . . there was no alternative besides the gas chamber .... And I say that is the big problem [in relation to later] . . . guilt feelings. 
She was saying this as a woman of considerable candor and integrity making a personal confession. The fact that prisoner doctors could experience this ambivalence served to increase SS doctors’ acceptance of their own deeper schism.

Dr. Magda V. conveyed the dedicated prisoner doctor’s mixture of helplessness and reluctant acquiescence in overall triage: 
I asked the other girls [prisoner doctors] who were there .... You know, we said, how many are dying? All right — so, roughly we knew what we can show them [the SS doctors]. The rest, ... we just tell them, look healthy ... or stand up or do something or, you know, pull yourself together. They [the people close to death] will die anyhow. There was no chance of saving them, no chance .... If you selected ... them, all right, so they were dead a day earlier or two hours earlier.  
Medical Killing and the
Psychology of Genocide

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