|AUSCHWITZ: THE RACIAL CURE
|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
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."
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
[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