Dr Robert Jay Lifton THE NAZI DOCTORS:
                        Medical Killing and the
                            Psychology of Genocide ©
 
  Page 354  
Previous Page
Back  
  Contents
Contents 

Index 
Home Page
Home Page  
   Next Page
Forward
 
AUSCHWITZ: THE RACIAL CURE 
 
mentioned having been the assistant of a world-famous Polish anthropologist. Mengele arranged for her to have the best treatment available, and with her beginning recovery sent for her even though she was “so weak that [she could] not really walk,” because he was “in such a hurry” to put her to work for him.
 
As did the twins, W. felt that the work offered her a sanctuary from more dangerous alternatives, and that in Auschwitz “Mengele was a god.” She said that Mengele never had a “private conversation” with her or even talked about her professor, was polite but distant, and would only discuss the work. He would sometimes gently question her descriptions of bodily characteristics, all the while taking pains to provide her with the most comfortable arrangements available to prisoners. An attractive young woman with an elegant cultural background, she inspired rumors in Auschwitz that she and Mengele were having an affair. They almost certainly were not, but. the rumors were probably fed by Mengele’s pattern of both appreciation and generous reward of those who could contribute to his passionate involvement in twin research.
 
Partly because of her overestimation of the quality and legitimacy of the research, Teresa W. made a jarring discovery one day in Auschwitz. Asked by Mengele to carry a box to another part of the camp, she felt an impulse to open it and see what was inside, only to discover “that it contained glass jars in which were human eyes.” She was "deeply shaken”: “At that moment I realized that Mengele was obviously able to kill people, in order to obtain some sort of research results.” Yet so much did she believe in the research that she made copies of all the forms she filled out in order to preserve her own record of the work; she buried, these forms in jars under the block “until. such a moment [when] I can dig them up” — but she never recovered them. She contrasted what Mengele would do with the material with the more objective, statistical approach of her professor. Mengele she thought, would have kept alive his “stud” (groups of twins and their offsprings) in order to study the inheritance of a variety of characteristics from intelligence to capacity for certain kinds of knowledge to susceptibility to illnesses — all of which she thought could give Mengele “a quite interesting result.”
 
During her talks with me (spread out over a couple of years) she became more critical of Mengele as “fanatical” and “murderous,” but remained confused by him partly because of her continuing respect for the work. She was one of the few prisoners I know of who remained loath to make definitive judgments about him and was reluctant to testify about him in legal proceedings. Her attitude was surely influenced by his having saved her life but also by his professional approach to her and his having convinced her of the validity of the work with twins.
 
 
Mengele’s own attitude toward the twins research was fiercely enthusiastic. Dr. Lottie M. stressed how passionately involved Mengele was with “his genetic idea,” and a Polish woman survivor told how he “rushed  
 
THE NAZI DOCTORS:
Medical Killing and the
Psychology of Genocide

Robert J. Lifton
ISBN 0-465-09094
© 1986
Previous Page  Back Page 354 Forward  Next Page