Dr Robert Jay Lifton THE NAZI DOCTORS:
                        Medical Killing and the
                            Psychology of Genocide ©
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with the … SS” in connection with reporting on the attempted escape of three Jewish prisoners, who were soon captured and, in keeping with prevailing Auschwitz practice, publicly hanged. K. went on to tell how Dr. T. had learned surgical techniques from Jewish doctors, but added that “he treated the doctors very nicely” and that he himself remained on a friendly basis with T.: “[He could be] very, very nice, . . . but I felt from the beginning I can't trust him.”

K. was suggesting a pattern of doubling in Dr. T., which I have identified in Nazi doctors (and will discuss in detail later). Adam T.’s combination of right-wing Polish nationalism and anti-Semitism, along with his stance of omnipotence in response to his own overwhelming death anxiety, led to his developing an “Auschwitz self” very similar to that of an SS doctor. Dr. Jacob R. made the point to me that it was a case not so much of  “identification with the aggressor” (in psychoanalytic terminology) as one of identification with the overall Auschwitz structure of authority, an identification Dr. T. could half maintain and half reverse during the postwar years. In Auschwitz, however, that form of adaptation enabled him to enter directly into the healing-killing reversal epitomized by selections.  
Experimental Operations and “Libel”: Wladislaw Dering  
The second of three Polish prisoner doctors, Wladislaw Dering, performed cruel experimental operations on Jewish inmates, which became widely known through his being the plaintiff in an extraordinary libel trial that took place in London in 1964.¹

Dering, who had been imprisoned because of his activities in the Polish underground, arrived very early in Auschwitz (15 August 1940) and underwent severe beatings by the Gestapo. In Auschwitz he first did hard physical labor and then became a nurse, before emerging as a leading Polish physician who "in the beginning had a good reputation" among prisoners.² During this early phase, he helped many people, especially fellow Poles, and was recognized by inmates and SS doctors as an unusually skillful surgeon.

In an important early incident, he was told by a German doctor to give a phenol injection. In the version he gave at his later trial, he claimed that, upon discovering the nature of the substance in the syringe, he refused to give the injection. A prisoner doctor testified afterward, however, that Dering actually gave the injection on an order from Dr. Entress but did not know what he was injecting. And when the prisoner died almost instantly, Dering was “shocked and declared that he would never again give any injections.”³ Whichever account is true (I am inclined to believe the latter version), Dering was undoubtedly stunned and terrified by the experience, which may nonetheless have served to take him over the threshold into atrocity.
Medical Killing and the
Psychology of Genocide

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