Dr Robert Jay Lifton THE NAZI DOCTORS:
                        Medical Killing and the
                            Psychology of Genocide ©
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she invoked a long-standing leg wound, which she said prevented her from participating in the research. But, not without fear, she was particularly afraid of making a quick second refusal, and so agreed to perform anesthesia for Dr. Samuel in an experimental operation (removal of an ovary) he did for Schumann. After that single experience, however, she refused to do any more of them.

When confronted by Wirths, Dr. L. and he had an exchange that has taken on legendary reverberations. She explained that such activities were “contrary to my conception as a doctor.” He then asked, “‘Can you not see that these people are different from you?’ And I answered him that there were several other people different from me, starting with him!”

She also expressed resistance to Wirths’s brother Helmut, who participated in his brother’s research; and when Eduard Wirths subsequently asked her opinion about sterilization: “I answered that I was absolutely opposed that it was a right we did not have to dispose in that way of people’s lives and to sterilize them.” She was transferred from Block 10, back to Birkenau without being otherwise punished, and was advised by knowledgeable inmates that in her precarious situation she should make herself more or less invisible She also rebuffed two additional approaches: one from Dr. Samuel advising her to take part in experiments because “there are executions” to which she replied, “If I did them I would commit suicide afterward.” The second approach was from Mengele: “Of course I told him I did not want to do it afterward, he told others that he could not ask me to do what I did not want to do.”

Her resistance to experiments had been unusually firm; buttressed by her religious convictions, she was willing to die rather than violate her ethical code. While she undoubtedly had more leeway than a Jewish doctor in expressing these principles, her courage was no less impressive. An important element in the equation was the willingness of both Wirths and Mengele to give way rather than punish or kill her. SS doctors were committed from late 1942 to keeping prisoner doctors alive and functional and in any case preferred to enlist for their dirty work those who were more malleable. Yet she too had to struggle with anxiety, and even she could not escape a brief involvement in experiments before succeeding in withdrawing from them completely. 
Genuine Research 
Prisoner physicians could themselves sometimes initiate genuine research, like the program in electroshock therapy developed by a Polish neurologist. Another prisoner physician who had been close to the situation, Frédéric E., told me that this man had been a renowned neurologist before the war, and that part of his motivation was the general knowledge that “German doctors liked to have extraordinary things happen in their  
Medical Killing and the
Psychology of Genocide

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