Dr Robert Jay Lifton THE NAZI DOCTORS:
                        Medical Killing and the
                            Psychology of Genocide ©
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The drug proved totally unfeasible for human sterilization, but Himmler made clear that he considered such experimental investigation of the greatest importance. He began to develop a file on what he called “sterilization by medicines,” and a separate file on mass sterilization by X rays (which we will soon examine in connection with Schumann). Clauberg’s project could thus be seen by Himmler as a newly scientific approach by a renowned professor, to “sterilizations by medicines.”

But despite the professor’s high backing, the enthusiastic support and involvement of Höss, and the required sponsorship of Wirths, Clauberg had his difficulties at Auschwitz. He had considerable personal conflict with many of the other doctors there, and he experienced delays in acquiring the advanced radiological equipment he felt he needed. Most problematic of all, he was caught in his own contradictions concerning the efficacy of his sterilization method. He had always exaggerated that efficacy, both out of ambition and under pressure from Himmler to produce, and produce quickly, this revolutionary racial contribution to the Nazi project. On 7 June 1943, Clauberg wrote to Himmler attempting to justify his slow progress, referred to “temporary difficulties” including his long wait for an X-ray apparatus, and then engaged in some monumental double-talk: His method was “as good as perfected” (so gut wie fertig ausgearbeitet) but required a few “refinements” (Verfeinerungen), so that “even today it could be put to practical use … [for] regular eugenic sterilization”; indeed, he was now ready to reply to “the question which you, Reichsführer, asked me one year ago — namely, how much time would be required to sterilize one thousand women by this method?” There were still hedges (“If my researches continue to have the same results, ... the moment is not far off when I can say”) and finally the anticlimactic declaration (with his own quotations and italics): “One adequately trained physician in one adequately equipped place, with perhaps ten assistants (the number of assistants in conformity with the speed desired) will most likely be able to deal with several hundred, even if not 1000 per day.”14

The claim was still fuzzy, to say the least, and it turned out that “the main reason” for the letter was to request certain new arrangements (not clear from the letter but probably having to do with Clauberg’s “sterilization race” with Schumann) and another X-ray apparatus he had located in Berlin but for which he needed Himmler’s approval. The underlying significance of the letter is that combining Nazi political and biomedical ideologies and living up to them medically, had contradictions and shortcomings — one might even say inevitable failures. These contradictions together with Clauberg’s general instability or “complexes,” took their toll. Wirths, the chief doctor, was quoted to me as having said that Clauberg had “completely gone to the dogs” and had become a severe alcoholic and a “totally unscrupulous character.” And Wirths’s brother,  
Medical Killing and the
Psychology of Genocide

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