Dr Robert Jay Lifton THE NAZI DOCTORS:
                        Medical Killing and the
                            Psychology of Genocide ©
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an effort to find sufficient common ground to enter into something on the order of humane dialogue. We had each made compromises, and the process was valuable for us both, but we could only sustain it temporarily. In parting, each of us felt a certain relief in returning to what he really was and is. Which is not to say that Dr. B. returned to being a Nazi, but rather that he overtly reclaimed Nazi-related elements still important to his sense of self.

Consistent to the end, he made no moral statements. He did make clear that, despite the late hour, he would drive the several hours back to his home so that he could enjoy the winter sunshine and skiing the next day. He had valued our interviews. But now he was eager to leave the hotel room, to leave Auschwitz and the conflicts that had been engendered by our dialogues. 
Dr. B. and the Jews  
Ernst B.’s achievements and ambiguities are reflected in his attitude toward Jews. The basic consideration here is his remarkable record in Auschwitz of treating them as human beings in need. His Simon Cohen dreams, moreover, suggest sufficient openness to a Jewish friend to internalize him as a kind of conscience, and also an expression of humanity in German-Jewish relations. But when I asked whether he had previously been concerned about his friend’s fate, he answered vaguely, “Perhaps [on a] subconscious [level] [Vielleicht unterbewwcst],” upon becoming aware of the “Jewish emigration,” and added that he and his friends had the impression that Jews were emigrating under “relatively good conditions because they — were unwanted, because they had no opportunities to remain here longer.” He could place the Cohen family in that category, because it was well-to-do and influential, but the image is essentially a Nazi one and covers over early victimization of Jews.

Then, reaching for candor, he added that his friendship with Simon Cohen “was not especially intense,” and that in his mainstream group of German friendships, “we didn’t have many Jews.” He added also, “I am convinced that I, like many others, suppressed that … [in a] conscious [way].” That theme of having repressed or suppressed what was happening to the Jews recurred throughout our talks. As he said, “That was at a time when general prosperity was developing for most people, and of course it was much easier simply to suppress unpleasant things.” But we may also assume a certain degree of awareness, and acceptance, of that victimization.

The subject came up in a direct way during our second interview. At the time his wife made her statement about not being against me, only against Auschwitz, she also asked me, “Why don't you help the Jews?” adding (in relation to Israel and a Middle East impasse then occurring) that “they are still the most hated people in the world” and that they needed to be helped in some way so that they would not be in a situation  
Medical Killing and the
Psychology of Genocide

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