Dr Robert Jay Lifton THE NAZI DOCTORS:
                        Medical Killing and the
                            Psychology of Genocide ©
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[Frank…] furt a few years earlier: Mengele’s teacher, was the man who in late 1935 had insisted, “What is absolutely needed is research on series of families and twins selected at random … with and … without hereditary defects.” One could then achieve “complete and reliable determination of heredity in man” and “the extent of the damage caused by adverse hereditary influences,” as well as “relations between disease, racial types, and miscegenation.” 27 No wonder that Verschuer supported Mengele’s research so enthusiastically, or that Mengele regularly sent specimens to his teacher and visited, while stationed at Auschwitz, the latter’s research institute in Berlin.

In Auschwitz, Mengele found a way to live out this intellectual dream derived from his mentor. While he could not always have the family data going back over several generations that Verschuer wished for, he could arrange to his heart’s content what his teacher called “a fixed minimum of examinations … in all cases.”28 Indeed, Mengele could exploit the unique opportunity Auschwitz provided for quick and absolute availability of large numbers of these precious research subjects, especially identical twins.

Mengele did not merely issue orders that twins be rounded up: he was a central, even fanatical, figure in the rounding-up process. Teresa W., who was sometimes in a position to observe ramp selections from close up, told how Mengele, looking “strange,” would plunge into the “river” of arriving Hungarian Jews, “going quickly, … the same speed [as] the crowd and [shouting] only, ‘Zwillinge heraus!’… with such a face that I would think he’s mad.”

Once he had selected the twins, Mengele made them part of an elaborate research structure, Auschwitz style. Besides the general SS doctors’ unit (used by all SS doctors), he had three additional offices, mainly for his work with twins: one in the men’s camp, one in the women’s camp, and one in the Gypsy camp. In all these places, twins had special status. They were given a special number sequence, and in many cases “ZW” (for Zwillinge, or “twins”) was made part of the tattooed number. They were frequently permitted to keep their own clothing and sometimes their hair. Twins, mostly children, had special blocks, usually within medical units and often together with other research subjects of Mengele, such as dwarfs or inmates with other abnormalities. An older child or an adult from among the twins, generally known as the Zwillingsvater (literally, “twins’ father”) would be put in charge and would become, in effect, the block chief. In each area, then, there took shape an extraordinary twin-dominated world of Mengele’s “odd” research subjects.

As one of them, Simon J., describes: 
We were very close. …There was a little fellow, … two-and-a-half, … the darling of the … block.... We had all sizes and shapes … a pair of eighteen-year-old strapping, magnificent boys from Hungary, excellent football-soccer players, … completely identical, We 
Medical Killing and the
Psychology of Genocide

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