Dr Robert Jay Lifton THE NAZI DOCTORS:
                        Medical Killing and the
                            Psychology of Genocide ©
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Confession,” tells how, when he was in charge of a “lunatics’ room,” one of them escaped into the camp and caused a disturbance, leading the SS commandant to issue a warning that such things had better not happen again. Cohen’s reaction, which he shared with a prisoner friend who worked with him, was that if they could not keep things quiet on the ward “we'll all be for the gas chamber.” Since this mental patient was extremely difficult to control, the friend responded by questioning his “sacrificing 600 people for one lunatic!” The two men cooperated in the killing by injecting an overdose of insulin, and Cohen later wrote:  
On that occasion I ... yes, I infringed the ethical rule that one is a doctor not to murder people, but to try to keep them alive, to try to cure them, help them. And ... it's always the first step that counts. For a few weeks later, it happened again. But by that time I had far fewer moral scruples about going upstairs again and saying to V., . . . “Same old thing. We’ll have to do it again.”

And we did too, and that man died as well. 
There was no problem about reporting the matter: 
It was quite simple, of course, for you just filled in something on the deceased’s cards. Pneumonia ... anything you liked. For it was all a farce in that room. I kept a very neat chart for each patient, showing his temperature and even the medicines we were giving him. Or were not

giving him rather, even though they were entered on his chart.5 

Auschwitz could thus impose upon certain prisoner doctors some of the elements of the direct medical killing, or “euthanasia,” program discussed in part I.

Cohen and other prisoner doctors struggled against the overall brutalization of an environment in which, as a former prisoner, orderly told me, “the corrupting of all human and ethical standards took place so rapidly ... that one had to be very stern to prevent the somewhat stronger prisoners hastening death of the weaker fellow prisoners.” The extreme example was the behavior of hardened criminal psychopaths who joined with SS personnel in killing people on work Kommandos, after which prisoners would be sent out to bring back the corpses to fill in the necessary “rows of five” and obtain the proper count — sometimes taking place while the prisoner orchestra played the tune (mentioned earlier) of “That’s How We Live Every Day” (So leben wir alle Tage).6

There was a third form of killing that certain prisoner doctors engaged in: abortions performed during various stages of pregnancy, and the killing of newborns after secret deliveries. These abortions and killing of newborns were done because women (especially Jewish women) discovered to be pregnant or to have given birth to an infant were killed by the SS. There have been many reports of these clandestine events. Dr. Gerda  
Medical Killing and the
Psychology of Genocide

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