Dr Robert Jay Lifton THE NAZI DOCTORS:
                        Medical Killing and the
                            Psychology of Genocide ©
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be interesting.” It would have, indeed, though even he might not have been entirely clear about his exact motivations. But I believe they would include his characteristic combination of exaggerated scientific claim and related ideological fantasy.  
Dwarfs, Noma, Eye Color, and Other Areas of Research 
Though nothing compared with his interest in twins, Mengele could also be passionate about his work with dwarfs, and was once described as “beside himself with joy” upon discovering an entire family of five dwarfs. Such a family of course was a panacea for his genetic focus, while at the same time satisfying his interest in the abnormal: his wish, as his anthropological assistant put it, “to have as much a characteristic, [of abnormality] as you can give him.”

Nyiszli told of doing his first post-mortem examinations on people selected from transports because of some abnormal physical development. He and others took measurements of them; then an SS noncommissioned officer shot them; afterward, Nyiszli did the dissections, prepared a protocol and then treated the corpses with calcium chloride and put the clean bones together in packages which were then sent to the … institute in Berlin-Dahlem.”38 Also, Dr. Lottie M. told of a sequence of Mengele’s enthusiasm at receiving a family of dwarfs, his extremely intense study and seemingly generous treatment of them and then their disappearance: “A fortnight and … the study is finished so [to] the gas.” (As in the case of twins a number of dwarfs did survive including two described by Tomas A. as talented musicians who lived among his group of twins and frequently played for the SS.)

But inmates understood the dwarfs to reflect Mengele’s obsession with Jewish abnormality. As Dr. Magda V. put it, “I think Jews must have been freaks to him — like the dwarfs.” And a friend of Teresa W. saw him as “fascinated by all sorts of freaks of nature … dwarfs, hunchbacks, imbeciles of all nations … hermaphrodites” — all of them Jews. Another prisoner doctor noted his interest in giants as well and, more generally, in “growth disturbances” and growth indicators in children and young adults. Dr Erich G mentioned Mengele’s “preconception” and even “religious feeling” that among Jews there is a greater “heredity of bad qualities” than among other races. In that way Mengele’s interest in dwarfs connected with his general attitude toward Jews: it is not surprising that ordinary inmates feared his freak hunting. As another survivor tells us, “I was a little afraid of him. Everyone was afraid. Maybe he will ask you, ‘Come here,’ and he will find something on you interesting.”
Mengele’s third interest was noma, an area of research that he may have more actively chosen than was suggested by the prisoner doctor's description of his approach to Professor Epstein (see pages 296-97). In  
Medical Killing and the
Psychology of Genocide

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