Dr Robert Jay Lifton THE NAZI DOCTORS:
                        Medical Killing and the
                            Psychology of Genocide ©
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Killing with Syringes: Phenol Injections 
That was approximately the time of the 14f13 extension of “euthanasia” into the camps, and phenol injections were a means of doing the killing “at home,” at the same place where the selections were conducted, rather than sending victims to the killing centers established mostly for mental patients in Germany and Austria. As in the original “euthanasia” project, the killing of those who were seriously ill was extended to killing virtually anyone whose death was desired. In practice, “Aryan” prisoners usually received phenol injections only when severely debilitated (there were of course exceptions), while Jewish prisoners were vulnerable to them merely by being on the hospital block.

Phenol injections, then, anticipated the full development of the gas chambers and were used along with them where, because of relatively few people to be killed, gassing was considered uneconomical. For instance, two Dutch Jews who had been injected with blood taken from typhus patients, in experiments seeking to determine how long typhus patients were infectious, were killed by phenol injections.³ And Dr. Wladyslaw Fejkiel described the “injecting off” of two young Gypsies as ordered by Mengele, possibly because they were twins whose post mortem was of interest to him.4 But murder in Auschwitz was nothing if not flexible; and even when a small number of people was designated for phenol killing, “if by chance a transport was going to the gas chambers, then they went into the gas chambers.”

Increasingly, from January 1943, children were killed by phenol injections. Early in that year, as many as 120 boys, ages thirteen to seventeen, from the Polish city of Zamosc — described as children whose parents had been killed — were murdered by phenol injection.* The children had made a powerful impression on prisoners, who gave them “the best they had,” even somehow finding a ball for them to play with — until they were ordered to undress in the washroom, and cries of “Why are you killing me?” were heard, followed by “a muffled sound” of small bodies falling to the floor.5

Phenol injection also became standard procedure for secret political murders, whose victims included Auschwitz inmates as well as people brought from the outside to be killed in this way. As Dr. Jan W. put it, “The Political Department could issue orders for prisoners [in both of the preceding categories] to be executed on the hospital grounds, and the responsibility for carrying out the order rested with the SS physicians.”

Medical killing by injection was by no means limited to Auschwitz — and, in one sense, went back to the injection of morphine and its deriva- […tives]
* There is some discrepancy about the number. In one source, Dr. Stanislaw Klodzinski mentions two separate events — 39 boys killed on 23 February and 80 on 1 March — which might account in part for varying numbers. Some could have been Jewish children who had been in hiding.
Medical Killing and the
Psychology of Genocide

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