|AUSCHWITZ: THE RACIAL CURE
|and leave the room) She acknowledged, You had to be
in a certain position to act so boldly (she was German and non-Jewish and
also held a leading medical position); but she had learned to use such
attitudes, she added, not only from Eichhorn but from Magda V., a Jewish woman
prisoner doctor who was notably poised in her relationships with SS doctors.
Magda V. herself, in further discussing Rohde, made an observation
about psychological influence: I might have influenced Rohde without
knowing [it] .... Maybe I inhibited Rohde .... It's very, very difficult to
kill somebody whom you know for five years or . . . five days.... You develop a
certain association. But she had to admit that saving lives was extremely
difficult; Everything was really very quick .... They were selected, and
half an hour later, they were up in smoke.
|Medical Values and Medical
|SS doctors deception and hypocrisy were pervasive.
Dr. V. told how Klein pretended to be nice and was
everyones picture of a family doctor .... smallish, roundish, . . .
a nice family-type of doctor who was very concerned about you. And when a
woman with a fifteen-year-old daughter once complained to him about their not
receiving treatment from V. herself, Klein patted the childs head and
told the mother, My, dear, not to worry.... You're going to hospital. I'm
going to look after you. But V. knew what it meant: the gas chamber
for both. She further asked, How can a doctor whos trained to
save lives do this?
The sequence she perceived, at whatever level
of consciousness, was something like this: He and I are both physicians
committed to healing; he not only violates our oath but does it while
pretending to be a kindly healer; I must depend upon him in order to survive
and remain a genuine healer, but to do so requires me to become enmeshed in
what he is doing and to run the risk of becoming like him.
Here a key
theme in the prisoner doctors struggle was what Dr. Jacob R. called
keeping ones medical values as a means of keeping alive
as a human being and resist[ing] accept[ance] of the values of the
camp. One could combine a certain numbing with low-key activity, so that
for this doctor, it was ... not important to be a leading
personality but preferable rather to focus on quietly helping patients
and to do what is possible under the general circumstances.
The difficulty was that they had to work within a medical structure
that was both part of the killing and built on deceptions of the medical
as if situation. As Dr. Henri Q put it:
In the hospital that the Germans have finally
created for the inmates, ... a temperature chart, an observation sheet is much