Dr Robert Jay Lifton THE NAZI DOCTORS:
                        Medical Killing and the
                            Psychology of Genocide ©
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Dr. Auschwitz: Josef Mengele 
through [his duties on the medical block] in order to have more time for his twins.” That passion made him “totally blind to” the general misery of the camp. When he found identical twins in any transport, this woman went on to say, “Mengele beamed — he was happy, … in a kind of a trance.” When deprived of possible twins — as on one occasion when he was not notified about the arrival of a transport — he was observed to become enraged and threatening.

As he also did when children, out of fear or fatigue, interrupted the examinations, or, as another survivor put it, “if something didn’t go right in experiments” or even if a temperature reading was not recorded on a twin’s chart. Once when a child screamed that he felt like passing out, Mengele “became enraged … [and] knocked the whole table down.” His attitude, according to this observer, seemed to be that if he could not complete the work immediately, he “might not be able to achieve it” He also became “furious,” according to another survivor when a girl twin died at the wrong time — as in the case of one who succumbed to diphtheria while he was following her syphilis. He was attentive to and provided special care and medications for the surviving twin, who also developed diphtheria and whom he was said to like very much — until she recovered, at which time he had her killed so that her syphilis could be confirmed at postmortem examination.

This duality — a confusing combination of affection and violence — was constantly described to me. The Polish woman survivor, for instance, described him as “impulsive … [with] a choleric temper,” but “in his attitude to children [twins] … as gentle as a father … [who] talked to them … [and] patted them on the head in a loving way.” He could be playful with them as well and “jumped around” to please them. Twin children frequently called him “Uncle Pepi” ; and other twins told how Mengele would bring them sweets and invite them for a ride in his car, which turned out to be “a little drive with Uncle Pepi, to the gas chamber.” Simon J. put it most succinctly: “He could be friendly but kill.” And two other twins described him as “like a dual personality, like Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, I think.”

Twins felt Mengele’s appeal. One believed that Mengele liked him: “[He] immediately referred to me as his friend” and said that he was “very fascinated with something in the Jew” and was generally pleasant and “very human.” This man believed that Mengele protected the twins from Heinz Thilo, an SS doctor who wanted them killed, so that the latter was the “devil of death” (an evil murderer) while Mengele was the “angel of death” (who still had a little bit of feeling). But this survivor admitted that Mengele, in the laboratory, “became a different person entirely, . … a fanatic.… [and] if he didn’t see blood on his white uniform, he was content.” Tomas A. remained still more troublingly bound to Mengele: “For twins Mengele was everything, … just marvelous, … a good doctor, … our backing [support]. If [it hadn’t been for] him, we wouldn’t be alive.” For a long time after liberation, A. found it impossible  
Medical Killing and the
Psychology of Genocide

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