Dr Robert Jay Lifton THE NAZI DOCTORS:
                        Medical Killing and the
                            Psychology of Genocide ©
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of at least 80 people. The court took account of their relative reluctance in the murders and of their friendliness toward prisoners and gave them startlingly light sentences: Scherpe, four and one-half years; and Hantl, three and one-half (served in full while he awaited trial), at hard labor.43

A show of revulsion, even among men who had done extensive killing, meant a lot in Auschwitz, as did the merest acknowledgment of the prisoners’ humanity. But the real psychological point is that men much more ordinary than Klehr — men without his combination of omnipotence, sadism, and numbing — could be drawn into the phenol killings. Such men, to be sure, were more vulnerable to breakdown, especially when killing children (here resembling the Einsatzgruppen killers). The “decent” phenoler, because his killing was direct, had a more difficult time sustaining his work than did the “decent” Nazi doctor, whose responsibility was surely as great but who was able to place some distance between himself and the corpse. But the fact that there could be “decent” phenolers at all — that is, relatively ordinary, well-intentioned men who killed by injection — tells us much about the malignancy of the Auschwitz environment and the broad susceptibility of unremarkable men to becoming killers.  
Medical Killing and the
Psychology of Genocide

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