Dr Robert Jay Lifton THE NAZI DOCTORS:
                        Medical Killing and the
                            Psychology of Genocide ©
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There is also recent evidence that, during his Auschwitz time, Mengele periodically visited his professor and was received by the latter's family. Verschuer destroyed all of their correspondence shortly after the war and, despite this incriminating act, claimed ignorance about Auschwitz and about any potentially criminal ways in which Mengele might have gathered the material.35*

Dr. Lottie M. could thus say of his interest in twins: “That was his question … genetics … genetics and environment. I think he did as he could have if he worked as assistant of Professor Verschuer.” And Teresa W. also emphasized his opportunity to study hereditary principles which, whatever her and others’ criticism of the work, rendered it “undoubtedly of the highest value for anthropology.”

Ernst B., his Auschwitz friend, described the work as “pure scientific research,” making use of twins to study questions of identical inherited dispositions (selbe Erbanlagen) Mengele had begun to investigate under his professor at the university. The research could take advantage of “the extreme conditions of the camp”: one could, for instance, give protein to one twin to observe its effect in preventing disease in comparison to the other twin to whom it was not given; and one could pursue investigations with a “potentially fatal outcome.” Dr. B. knew that Mengele was “in constant touch with his old institute,” but thought he told people there little about Auschwitz conditions because “he was ashamed to talk about this with his former colleagues.” Mengele nonetheless expressed to Ernst B. pride in his colleagues’ encouragement and “used that as justification” for pursuing scientific work

Dr. B. said something else of great importance, not generally appreciated: Mengele had begun work on his Habilitation the academic presentation necessary for a formal appointment as university lecturer and ultimately professor; and the clear implication was that his Auschwitz research with twins was to constitute a major portion of that “Habilitation work.” Mengele's academic ambition, that is, was bound up with his passion for Auschwitz research — as was his feeling, again quoted by Dr. B., that “it would be a sin, a crime, … irresponsible [toward science], not to utilize the possibilities that Auschwitz had for twin research. There would never be another chance like it.”

All that seems clear enough but the prevailing opinion in Auschwitz about Mengele’s research was quite different Most inmates believed as Dr. Abraham C. put it, that Mengele “wanted to find the cause of multiple pregnancies in order to be able to repopulate Germany, which had been subjected to considerable losses.” Dr. C. even claimed that Mengele “spoke of it very freely.” And as “Mengele’s radiologist” (C.’s own term), he was in a position to observe and hear a great deal. Dr. Miklos Nyiszli,
* Dr. Helmut Verschuer, the professor’s son, also remembered his mother’s reporting that she once asked Mengele whether what he had to do was demanding; he answered, “It is horrible, I can’t talk about it.”36 That memory is difficult to evaluate and should not in my view be taken as clear evidence of Mengele’s having been uncomfortable in Auschwitz.   
Medical Killing and the
Psychology of Genocide

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