Dr Robert Jay Lifton THE NAZI DOCTORS:
                        Medical Killing and the
                            Psychology of Genocide ©
  Page 231  
Previous Page

Home Page
Home Page  
   Next Page
Prisoner Doctors: Struggles to Heal 
“You have to visualize the situation.” It seemed clear to me that Dr. V. had been neither collaborator nor mistress. But in speaking of how Nazi doctors looked approvingly on her poise and linguistic and medical abilities and considered her to be “fair” and "doing a job in a good way,” she revealed once more the potential taint in any relationship a prisoner doctor made with SS doctors. Another prisoner doctor may have characterized the bond most accurately when he spoke of Dr. V. as a “mother-confessor to Rohde.”

Dr. Lottie M. owed her life to Rohde. When she became extremely ill with typhus, Rohde announced to the prisoner doctors who took care of her, “I don’t want her to die,” and saw to it that she received good care and nourishing food. He went so far as to bring her first a dress, and upon her further request a brassière, so that she could get out of bed. All this was not lost on the capos and SS personnel, who “felt that [she] was protected by him ... and that they shouldn't interfere with that.” His friendly attitude toward her began when he learned that she had done university and medical studies in the same place as he, and he responded with enthusiastic reminiscences and questions about professors, restaurants, and shops. Rohde apparently found Dr. M. to be bright and attractive as well, so that, as she put it, “I didn't feel close to him, but he did to me.” She had no great respect for him, describing him as  “silly, ... a. . . good-looking sports type, . . . no bright ideas”; but she had still further reason to be grateful for him: “The funny thing was, he always tried to get me free.” He felt that, as a non-Jewish German, she should be helped to leave Auschwitz, and with that in mind, even arranged for her to talk with a new commander. When she came back from the meeting discouraged, explaining to Rohde that the new subcamp commander “seems to be a great anti-Semite [she had been imprisoned partly for helping Jews],” Rohde replied, “Well, we are all anti-Semites.” Dr. M. told him she had not had that impression about him, to which he answered, “Well, in the camp the situation is different.” He was saying — in still another manifestation of Auschwitz healing-killing schizophrenia — that the “informality” of the camp permitted one to be more relaxed with individual Jews (as he was with Dr. V.) even as one subjected them to mass murder as a group.

Rohde attempted to convey to Dr. M. his reluctance concerning selections and his need to drink in order to perform them. While protective toward favored prisoner doctors such as Lottie M. and Magda V., he seemed to want them to share the numbing he could induce in himself through drinking. Thus once when a block was sealed off for selections (Blocksperre), Rohde observed Dr. M. peeking out at the prisoners being dragged into lorries and taken away to be killed, and said with some agitation, “Why do you [try to] see it? Aren’t you lucky that you needn't look at that? It's better not to look.”

Dr. Klein — who, as Dr. Ella Lingens-Reiner told me, was a “real” anti-Semite — was delighted to discover that she was not Jewish and was Ger- […man]  
Medical Killing and the
Psychology of Genocide

Robert J. Lifton
ISBN 0-465-09094
© 1986
Previous Page  Back Page 231 Forward  Next Page