Dr Robert Jay Lifton THE NAZI DOCTORS:
                        Medical Killing and the
                            Psychology of Genocide ©
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to believe the evil things he heard about Mengele, and he still struggles with the. contradiction. He can now sum up the situation: “For us, for the twins, [he was] like a papa, like a mama. For us. On the other hand, he was a murderer.”

While several of the twins came to the conclusion that Mengele had been nice to them only to maximize their, participation in his research, others had difficulty ridding themselves of the sense that his affection for them had been genuine.

Apart from his research, the relationship Mengele sought with the twins, and with all of the environment, was one of absolute control. That form of omnipotent quest again combined Auschwitz realities with Mengele’s individual-psychological inclinations. Simon J. captured the tendency when he said that “Mengele was judgment day,” and had the further association of an image of an inmate, among a group walking slowing toward the crematorium, shouting out a verse chanted on Kol Nidre night (the beginning of Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement). Mengele sought control not only over life and death but over all behavior and all criteria of value, scientific and moral.

Hence J. could add, “As far as we knew, there was Mengele — then one half a light-year, … and then the rest of them [other doctors and SS officers and personnel).” That same aura of omnipotence led to impressions on the part of various twins that Mengele was “the mainshow,” an “on-the-floor presence,” and “always in charge.”

Unlike others in Auschwitz, Mengele continued his research with twins until the very end. A few months before his hurried departure, he insisted upon inviting Dr. Lottie M. into his inner sanctum to look at “the results of [his] anthropology research work.” She could make little of them from superficial glances at charts and statistics, but remembered him saying with some feeling, “Isn’t it a pity that … this falls into the hands of the Bolsheviks. Isn’t it a pity?” While he apparently took most of the records with him, Dr. M.’s impression was that he recognized the imminence of the German defeat and was mainly preoccupied with what would happen to that material.*

One survivor contended that Mengele had to “get a lot done quickly” because of his conflict with Thilo and others who wanted the project shut down. A survivor, who claimed to have intelligence connections and special knowledge, went further in describing Mengele’s research as having been in bad repute with Nazi officials, so that his entire Auschwitz standing was in jeopardy “if he did not submit results.” While those claims find little support elsewhere, Mengele’s “race against time” could have been generated from within himself as part of a need to see himself — and be recognized — as a great biological and racial scientist. Certainly his research with twins was central to that aspiration.
* It is possible that a significant amount of this material did fall into Soviet hands, as they are believed to retain — or at least to have retained originally — large numbers of Auschwitz documents that they have not made available to others or even publicly acknowledged.   
Medical Killing and the
Psychology of Genocide

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