Dr Robert Jay Lifton THE NAZI DOCTORS:
                        Medical Killing and the
                            Psychology of Genocide ©
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of “bearer of secrets.” “He must have known too much or perhaps talked to somebody he should not have” is the way that one prisoner doctor put it.

With considerable personal pain, Hermann Langbein has described still another factor: 
One day the chief physician asked my opinion about Samuel. Even earlier, Dr. Wirths had occasionally asked my opinion about functionaries in the infirmary, without ever giving a reason for his question. Afterward it always turned out that he had wanted to learn what I thought because he was considering the person concerned for a leading function. Since, from all I knew about Samuel, I had doubts about helping him acquire an influential post, I answered reservedly. Wirths replied that he too did not have the best opinion of Samuel, and [he] dictated something else. Soon afterward, Dr. Samuel was taken to Birkenau by the chief physician’s sergeant, Friedrich Ontl. The office was ordered to prepare his death announcement.
Langbein claimed, “[On further reflection] I came to the conclusion that this was the only way I could react.” He nonetheless continued to ask himself “whether I, too, bear unintended complicity in the death of this man.”9

He went on to characterize Samuel as the kind of Auschwitz prisoner, found especially among the older ones, who “despite great intelligence and experience of life, despite knowledge of the Auschwitz extermination machinery, refused to accept reality and nourished the insane hope of being able to create an exception for themselves.”10 The exception, as we know, had to do with the survival of his daughter. But also of great importance was Samuel’s strong sense of himself as a German and, as such, a countryman of the Nazis and a colleague of SS doctors — an identity he could call forth in Auschwitz in order to try to save his daughter (who too was killed) and also himself. 

If there is to be a last word about prisoner medical collaborators, it might best be Jan W.’s. This Polish doctor’s cautious answer, when asked his opinion about the actions of Dering and Samuel, managed to convey some of the complexity of Auschwitz moral truths, along with his own considerable humanity:
It is difficult to pass judgment on the behavior of inmates. It’s difficult to accuse the Jews of the Sonderkommando of helping to kill their fellow Jews by pushing them into the gas chambers. It was done under pressure which deprived them of their will. But there were times when a man went over the border of what we could expect from him — did more than what was demanded or required — when he performed functions with sadistic satisfaction or even did certain things before he  
Medical Killing and the
Psychology of Genocide

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