Dr Robert Jay Lifton THE NAZI DOCTORS:
                        Medical Killing and the
                            Psychology of Genocide ©
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patients, who were then murdered. Dr. Henri Q. told of cases involving “complex open fractures, complex reduction [bone-setting] apparatus, and osteosynthesis [operation for uniting the fractured ends of a bone].” in which treatment was elaborate and painstaking: “And when they would be cured, they were killed — because they were weak.” And Dr. Jan W. described a similar pattern in which Friedrich Entress, notorious for his zeal in conducting selections, was taught a surgical procedure by a Polish prisoner doctor, which the SS doctor, in turn, performed on patients. But 
if the treatment had to last longer than a very brief convalescence, even after a successful operation, he [Entress] would consider the patient a burden on the hospital, affecting the rate of turnover in the hospital. So, even then, after the operation performed by this SS doctor who learned the art in this way, he could just as swiftly send the patient to the gas chamber or to an injection of phenol. 
This schizophrenic contradiction between healing and killing remained until the end. As Jacob R. said: 
My last duty in Auschwitz [before he was transferred to Buna] was typical of the attitude of negating reality — of the prisoners and of the SS too. The Russians were coming nearer and nearer. And [yet] we prepared a course of lectures for doctors in camp [telling them how] to be better prisoner doctors. That was September 1944 .... We were ordered [to do it] by the SS doctors, very much against the idea [opposition] of the orderlies. It was a matter of power position. 
It was also a matter of maintaining the Auschwitz “as if” medical situation, a deception in which prisoner doctors were required to be key figures. Dr. Erich G.’s observation that Nazi doctors “could not suppress all humanity” may have a double truth: they could not suppress all of their own humanity; much less could they suppress that of their prisoner-physician-slaves. 
Remaining Healers 
Mostly prisoner doctors struggled to work together in ways that could sustain life. Besides their “caucuses” on establishing policies toward selections, in different ways — as Dr. Gerda N. said in connection with her contacts with other women doctors — “they were just great, ... as hungry, . . . thirsty.... [and] under the threat of being put to death as all the others were, but still they functioned [to help others].”

While their lives were sometimes saved by grateful patients, prisoner  
Medical Killing and the
Psychology of Genocide

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