Dr Robert Jay Lifton THE NAZI DOCTORS:
                        Medical Killing and the
                            Psychology of Genocide ©
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those thoughts without the need to push them back.” He then compared his situation to that of Rudolf Höss, with whom he had briefly shared a cell and talked just days before Höss was hanged. He found that, after Höss had written his confession [Bekenntnisse, which could also mean “confessional memoirs”], he felt “relieved … of a great burden.” Dr. B. felt himself comparably relieved: in effect, his scientific study of life-death factors was his “Auschwitz confession.”

The intensity of that experience was reflected in dreams that began at that time and have since continued: “Whenever I have a dream related somehow to Auschwitz, those papers will appear too.” The psychological work of that study of Auschwitz files took him as close as he ever came to a conscious sense of guilt concerning his relation to Auschwitz:*   “I continuously occupied myself, … subconsciously and in my dreams, with finding out how one could make things edible usable for human beings. … In my dreams the hunger [of inmates] kept me much … occupied [because] we ourselves lived very well and the others, the prisoners were starving."
After being acquitted, a former prisoner now in a high position offered to arrange for Dr. B to re-enter academic medicine and university life. But he preferred to return to the area where he had practiced in the past, because “this human oasis meant more.” In general, “I did not want to make any kind of experiment.… [but] wanted to use the safest method,” and “told myself that only human values in themselves matter.”

He wanted to avoid “experiments” either in medicine or in life. Like many former Nazi doctors his impulse was to retreat from situations of intensity and cultural disability and to find a safe and reliable path — in his case to spend much of the rest of his life both absorbing and moving away from the Auschwitz experience. People in his area accepted him, apparently knowing something of his background and looking upon him as someone who had served with the Nazis but had been cleared of accusations of criminal behavior.  
The Course of the Interviews 
Certain patterns developed in Dr. B.’s attitudes and relationship to me over the course of our five virtually day-long interviews, totaling about thirty hours. During our first interview he was, compared with other former Nazi doctors I met, extraordinarily enthusiastic and ingratiating. He seemed to pour out all he could about almost anything I asked him, and volunteered a great deal on his own. He did, like others, seem most comfortable as a fellow observer of his own earlier experiences; and he sought to construct a narrative of his life that minimized his encounters  
* As opposed to his guilt toward Delmoue, which had to do with personal decisions and personal consequences rather than with being part of Auschwitz evil; or even to B.’s particular guilt toward Simon Cohen which he experienced periodically.  
Medical Killing and the
Psychology of Genocide

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