Dr Robert Jay Lifton THE NAZI DOCTORS:
                        Medical Killing and the
                            Psychology of Genocide ©
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expressions of feeling, would laugh or giggle uneasily when dreadful issues were raised, and (as German assistants noted) would leave out verbs and even adverbs in avoiding specific statements — that is, avoiding responsibility for his words, often resorting to clumsy forms of speech.

Over the course of the interviews I had the sense he had taken on the postwar self of a pleasant, conservative-democratic German of advancing years, while inwardly retaining a strong sense of his personal history as part of the Nazi generation. A connecting link between these two views of himself were the writings of certain contemporary biologists. He often had books by Desmond Morris and Konrad Lorenz on his desk and would sometimes initiate a discussion with me about the biological sources of aggression and imperialism. In that way he could be both a contemporary man and retain a biological worldview that had for him a degree of continuity with the Nazi period. Lorenz, prominent both as a Nazi and as a postwar German-Austrian biological scientist, could particularly serve as that kind of link. Ironically, Dr. B. seemed to require some affirmation of his Nazi-related self (after all, that was he as a young man) for him to muster the strength and candor to probe it and Auschwitz as intensively as he has.  
Overall Life Patterns 
Finally, Ernst B.’s overall life patterns may help us to understand his special combination of Nazi affiliation and life-saving decency, and particularly his avoidance of selections — even though, in the collective historical structure I am discussing, themes from an early life can do no more than reveal certain individual tendencies within that structure.

The most persistent theme in Dr. B.’s life, beginning in earliest childhood, has been his quest for human connection, for contact. I suspect that the German family structure does much to create that hunger, and that it was expressed and fed in the Nazis’ extraordinary focus on unity, on collective merging (the slogan: “One people, one party, one leader!”). But for Dr. B. it has meant a highly personal search for acceptance, recognition, belongingness, and intimacy — requiring some or all of these in order to feel alive. Inseparable from that quest has been an ideal associated with his father (or his admired uncle) which he called “integrity” and had to do with holding on to one’s life project, to one’s sense of self, whatever the pressure to yield or dissemble. Much of his life has been a struggle to balance these two fundamental, and at times seemingly incompatible, aspirations.

Dr. B.’s family shared much of the German nation’s experience of the First World War in terms of abject humiliation, isolation, and — above all — loss. The national regenerative impulse was reflected in his being assigned a “survivor mission” of carrying on the unfinished work of the gifted uncle killed in the war. In his swing from rebellious artist to compli- […ant]  
Medical Killing and the
Psychology of Genocide

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