Dr Robert Jay Lifton THE NAZI DOCTORS:
                        Medical Killing and the
                            Psychology of Genocide ©
  Page 310  
Previous Page

Home Page
Home Page  
   Next Page
Upon learning that he had been brought in to replace Ernst B. who had refused to do selections, Delmotte angrily confronted him, more or less suggesting he had been hypocritical (“On what grounds do you do [what you are doing]?”), and insisted, “If you are not going to select, then I am not going to select either.” B. “didn't feel good about the whole situation”: “Of course I didn't tell him about my visit to Mrugowsky.” In speaking of Delmotte’s subsequent resentful withdrawal from both B. and Weber for not supporting him, B. admitted that there could have been ways to do so: “I have to say this to my shame.”

In taking his case to the new commandant, Arthur Liebehenschel (Höss's temporary successor),* Delmotte encountered a “therapeutic” attitude (“I can certainly understand this. One must first get used to a new environment”), according to what Dr. B. was told about the conversation. Indeed, Liebehenschel — with the probable collaboration of Wirths, with whom he was on good terms, and the cooperation of Weber — arranged for a “therapeutic program” that had three specific components.

First, Delmotte was assigned to Mengele’s mentorship. Mengele, speaking from a similar commitment to SS loyalty and ideology, could convey the message that even if one thinks that extermination of the Jewish people is wrong, or is being done in the wrong way (Delmotte, according to Dr. E., believed that “Jewish influence” had to be combated but disapproved of the Auschwitz method), “as an SS man [one was] bound to participate.” Mengele could also claim that, since prisoners became sick and died terrible deaths, it was “more humane to select them.” And he could ultimately fall back on the combined patriotic, nationalistic, racial, and biomedical argument that, during this wartime emergency, one should do nothing to interfere with the great goal being sought: “the triumph of the Germanic race.” Mengele, that is, could appeal to the same SS idealism that had originally contributed to Delmotte’s refusal, and, within two weeks, had him selecting.

Second, Weber, as a “good psychologist,” made highly. unusual arrangements for Delmotte’s wife to live with him in Auschwitz. She was, according to Dr. B., extraordinary in both her beauty and her amorality (“no heart, no soul, no nothing”), her only discernible interest in Auschwitz being two enormous Great Danes she kept at the Hygienic Institute and constantly fondled. The strong implication was that Delmotte’s regular sexual access to her made him, as B. put it, more “quiet.”
* Höss was, replaced in November 1943, following the arrest of the Auschwitz political leader Maximilian Grabner. Grabner was implicated through an SS anticorruption investigation, originally aimed at profiteering, although it also charged him with murders' beyond those authorized, notably of Polish prisoners. Grabner's exit was supported by Dr. Wirths, with whom he had had confrontations over killings. Although implicated in Grabner's misdeeds, Höss was, in fact, promoted into the central concentration-camp administration. According to Langbein, the change was made because the outside world had learned too much of what was happening at Auschwitz; the change was, then, apparently cosmetic, although Liebehenschel did carry out some reforms in the direction of fewer arbitrary procedures and less harsh punishments. Of course the main business of Auschwitz continued as before.²   
Medical Killing and the
Psychology of Genocide

Robert J. Lifton
ISBN 0-465-09094
© 1986
Previous Page  Back Page 310 Forward  Next Page