Dr Robert Jay Lifton THE NAZI DOCTORS:
                        Medical Killing and the
                            Psychology of Genocide ©
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block) “because it was all mixed up” and “because they hate[d] each other .... [Wirths] hated Professor Clauberg ... Professor Clauberg hated him. He hated Höss. Höss hated him. And so it's a farce.”

Dr. J. was given a special opportunity to exploit the situation when Höss’s mistress was admitted to the medical block with tuberculosis of the hip following an earlier abortion for a four-month pregnancy (see page 201). Dr. J. immediately gave all this information to Wirths because “I was Wirths’s woman” (she worked under his authority, and he went to some lengths to protect her), and because “the underground [of which she was a part] of the camp was living on hate between Höss and Wirths.” She learned from Wirths’s prisoner secretary, also in the underground, that Wirths had quickly called Berlin in order to make use of the information; and without knowing the consequences, she felt that it was “our good luck that they were fighting.”

When a relatively friendly SS doctor like Rohde, as Dr. Jan W. put it, permitted “very little distance between him and prisoner doctors ... and [a] spirit of professional people at work,” prisoner doctors had to exploit that spirit and at the same time keep it limited in order to distance themselves from selections and remain healers. As Dr. Henri Q. explained, “We suffered and [acted] within the limits of the possible .... Doctors did provide some comfort, I believe. There was the comfort for the patient and the fact that he was not alone, that someone understood and was trying to help to do something for him — and that was already a lot .... We were a group, not just the [individual] doctors of our block.” He could then conclude (as in the epigraph to this chapter) that he and his friends “remained doctors ... in spite of everything.”

Helping children could greatly contribute to the prisoner doctors’ struggle to maintain a healing identity. Dr. Henri Q., for instance, told of the impact of a nine-year-old boy from a Jewish ghetto in Poland, who “made such a racket on the truck that was to take him to the gas chamber that the SS took him out” and permitted him to do errands for them., The doctor added proudly that the boy had been on his block and “is still alive and we see each other often ... in Paris.” He spoke even more intensely of a still younger Russian child (“a rare thing in the camp”) whom he once took to the infirmary: 
I walked in front of all the blocks, and you could feel all the men, over ten thousand men, who were looking at this child. I was very proud to walk with him, . . . as if I were walking with the president of the Republic. There is only one president and there was only one child.  
Medical Killing and the
Psychology of Genocide

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