|A Human Being in an SS
Uniform : Ernst B.
|The third element was the making available to Delmotte as
intellectual mentor (for the research and writing involved in his dissertation)
a distinguished older Jewish prisoner physician, a professor and widely
acclaimed scientist who, according to Dr. B., became a father
figure to Delmotte. The two men became extremely close, and it was
B.s claim that the professor even advised Delmotte to go ahead with
selections because he would be severely punished if he refused. B.
had the impression that the professor contributed the most toward helping
Delmotte out of his [difficulties] lets say, to motivate
him. Because of his own psychological needs, B. may well have exaggerated
the professors role in regard to the selections question I would
give greater emphasis to Mengeles influence and to that of the overall
Auschwitz environment but I have seen letters from the professor
confirming his closeness to Delmotte.
Delmotte selected without further
incident until selections were discontinued in Auschwitz in the fall of 1944.
After the evacuation of Auschwitz, Ernst B. met him briefly in Dachau
after which Dr. B. never saw him again. Delmotte tried to flee to
his home area but was soon caught; when taken into custody (or about to be) by
American troops, he shot himself.
Dr. B. thought that Delmotte had
killed himself because of having violated his own medical principles in
performing selections, and because he could, in any case, expect the death
penalty from the Americans and wanted to spare himself and his family the pain
and humiliation of conviction, and execution. But what had actually gone on in
Delmottes mind continued to trouble B., remaining a key
problem that he felt a need to trace further. He did make
some inquiries but did not succeed in learning any more. He added, with a
quality of feeling unusual for him: I had... hoped that I could be of
some assistance to him, because I have a bad conscience toward him
had to do the job which I had succeeded in getting out of
. Maybe I could
have been more honest with him, but it was very difficult in that
| Who was this unusual Auschwitz doctor? A not very unusual
man, an exploration of his past suggests, but one with certain preoccupations
and abilities that contributed to his Auschwitz behavior.
Ernst B. came
from an upper-middle-class professional family, his father a university
professor distinguished in his scientific field, a man with whom he had
no personal contact, no personal relationship. B. nonetheless
respected him very much because of the intensity of his commitment
and his combination of personal integrity and tolerance for his childrens
idiosyncrasies. B.s mother was the opposite
affectionate and close to him, and insistent on her beliefs and on the virtues
of her own family traditions, which were strongly nationalistic, with two of
its members being distinguished physicians.