Dr Robert Jay Lifton THE NAZI DOCTORS:
                        Medical Killing and the
                            Psychology of Genocide ©
 
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Prisoner Doctors: Struggles to Heal 
 
does not affect you.” Moreover, “he who could not get this [psychic 'immune reaction] died.” Nor could one, when confronted with selections, surrender the bond with Nazi doctors so necessary to one’s own life and to one’s capacity to save others.

While the bond was precarious in the extreme, and prisoner doctors never fully lost their image of all Auschwitz Nazis as murderers, there were some exceptionally positive relationships — for example, between a few prisoner doctors and two SS doctors in the Auschwitz Hygienic Institute, Ernst B. and Delmotte G. Several survivor doctors made clear to me that these two SS doctors were genuinely considerate to them, helped arrange illegal meetings with wives or family members in the camp, and could be trusted with personal confidences. But even in those unusual cases, prisoner doctors could hardly be completely relaxed.

Sometimes a Nazi doctor used such relationships for a kind of catharsis, for expressing (though hardly confronting) his feelings of guilt derived from participating in selections. Dr. Jan W., the Polish prisoner physician, described Werner Rohde (whom several inmates considered relatively decent) to be a "kind of German Bosch,* ... more sociable [than other Nazi doctors]," and a man who treated prisoner doctors “more as fellow physicians.” In addition,  
 
he [Rohde] sometimes even told of dreams that he had the previous night. I'll tell you about one of those dreams. He came in one day and told us, “What a dream I had last night. It was a terrible dream. I dreamt that [I saw] fried Jewish heads — Jewish heads on a frying pan.” This was immediately after a selection in which a large number of people were gassed and burned 
Rohde’s dream probably reflected a combination of guilt feelings, death anxiety, and a degree of sadism. Such a confession could be made only to Polish or possibly German prisoner doctors. But this apparent freedom did not mean that they could be casual in their response to the SS doctor’s catharsis.

The ostensible colleagueship with the SS doctor could be perceived as entrapment. One prisoner doctor told how Klein would sometimes address him as “Herr Kollege” or “Herr Doktor Kollege,” how “friendly” and “very kind” Klein was, and how Fischer, Klein, and Rohde “were quite normal to us” and “talked medicine with us.” This man’s point was that he and other prisoner doctors were manipulated and exploited in the relationship: 
 
They didn’t lash us. No, not at all. There was no need for them to do it because we were very obedient. We were slaves. You always stood to attention [here he clicked his heels and brought himself to attention
__________
* Bosch was a First World War derogatory term for a German but here also suggests a rough-hewn, spontaneous person.   
 
THE NAZI DOCTORS:
Medical Killing and the
Psychology of Genocide

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