Dr Robert Jay Lifton THE NAZI DOCTORS:
                        Medical Killing and the
                            Psychology of Genocide ©
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C., the radiologist, and Dr. Mlkios Nyiszli, the pathologist. Nyiszli in particular attained enormous prestige in the camp and could move about as he wished by invoking Mengele’s name. Before being taken on, he was given an “examination” by Mengele on his knowledge of pathology and forensic issues. The extent of his work with Mengele made him a controversial figure in the eyes of some other prisoner doctors. But the point here is the fact that the most important man on Mengele’s team was the dissector of corpses.

Mengele even organized a series of colloquia, usually involving about fifteen doctors working with him and ten or fifteen brought in from other camps. Mengele would select the topic and run the meeting, while prisoner doctors would be asked to discuss particular cases from the standpoint of their specialties. Their discussion was tempered by their awareness, as one put it, that “any of us could be sent off [killed] at the slightest sign of displeasure on Mengele’s part.” While reluctant to disagree with Mengele, they also had to consider the danger of being associated with a false diagnosis (even if Mengele favored it) that could be confirmed as false by post-mortem examination.
Mengele was a collector. In accumulating dwarfs, as Dr. Lengyel put it, Mengele had “the mania of a collector, not of a savant."43 Other prisoner doctors similarly saw him as an endless collector who served as an instrument of his professor without possessing any special qualities of his own as a scientist. (He was said to have collected doctors as well. One prisoner doctor told a story of a large group of Hungarian doctors [thought to [be about 380] that Mengele gathered in late 1944; most of them were sent to a harsh working camp in Germany, where the great majority became severely ill and debilitated, and many died.)

Mengele’s impulse to collect could be directed at any kind of specimen — fetuses, as we know, and “very beautiful gallstones.” as Dr Nyiszli tells us. Encountering the gallstones while dissecting a corpse Nyiszli immediately thought of Mengele as “an ardent collector of such items”: whether or not he had presented Mengele with such a gift before, he knew it would be appreciated. He carefully washed and prepared them, and Mengele’s response was not only pleasure but the recitation of lines from a comic ballad of the warrior Wallenstein: 
In the Wallenstein family
there are more gallstones than precious stones.
[Im Besitze der Familie Wallenstein
Ist mehr Gallenstein, wie Edelstein.
The gallstones put Mengele in such a good mood that Nyiszli could successfully request permission to go about the camp to look for his wife and teenage daughter.44  
Medical Killing and the
Psychology of Genocide

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