Dr Robert Jay Lifton THE NAZI DOCTORS:
                        Medical Killing and the
                            Psychology of Genocide ©
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The Experimental Impulse 
“negative population policy,” about which he makes the dramatic proposal that, having demonstrated the possibility of sterilization without operation on the basis of animal experiments, “now we must proceed to the first experiments on human beings.” The letter goes on with this combination of flattery, slick scientific gloss, elaborate research projection (a laboratory for animal experiments, an experimental farm to investigate questions of “agriculture and fertility,” etc.), and a pervasive medical focus (“The center from which all ideas start, all problems are raised ... and finally turned over to practical use, is and remains the clinic”) — all leading to the plan to “evaluate the method of sterilization without operation … on women unworthy of propagation and to use this method continually after it is finally proved efficient.” He makes clear that Auschwitz is the ideal place for “the human material to be provided,” and even proposes that it be named after Himmler as “Research Institute of the Reichsführer SS for Biological Propagation.” The entire letter captures much of the ethos and corruption of the physician researcher within the Nazi biomedical vision.10

After a flurry of additional changes involving Himmler’s adjutants and other SS doctors, and another visit with the Reichsführer himself, Clauberg’s plan for Auschwitz work was approved in a letter in which Himmler (through his assistant, Rudolf Brandt) indicated that he would be “interested to learn … how long it would take to sterilize a thousand Jewesses,” made some additional suggestions about method, and finally advocated as a test “a practical experiment [of] … locking up a Jewess and a Jew, together for a certain period and then seeing what results are achieved.”11

Himmler’s enthusiasm for Clauberg’s project had been independently nurtured by another physician correspondent, Dr. Adolf Pokorny, a Czech ethnic German who had retired with a high rank from a career in military medicine. In October 1941 Pokorny wrote a letter to Himmler that could also stand as a basic document in the ideological corruption of the healer. Pokorny’s letter was written in response to the idea “that the enemy must not only be conquered but destroyed”; felt impelled to notify Himmler of recent work on “medicinal sterilization” in which the sap of a particular plant (containing Caladium seguinum) produced “permanent sterility” in both male and female animals; and advocated “immediate research on human beings (criminals!)” as well as extensive cultivation of the plant and absolute secrecy. Pokorny gloried in the vision of “a new powerful weapon at our disposal”: "The thought alone that the 3 million Bolsheviks, at present German prisoners, could be sterilized so that they could be used as laborers but be prevented from reproduction, opens the most far-reaching perspectives.”12*
* The letter earned Pokorny a place in the dock at Nuremberg. He defended himself by pleading that Caladium seguinum was so clearly unsuitable for human sterilization that he had written Himmler to divert him from considering more feasible methods. The court ruled that the letter, “monstrous and base as ... [its] suggestions . . are,” did not justify a conviction, and concluded, “We find, therefore, that the defendant must be acquitted — not because of the defense tendered, but in spite of it.” 13  
Medical Killing and the
Psychology of Genocide

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