Dr Robert Jay Lifton THE NAZI DOCTORS:
                        Medical Killing and the
                            Psychology of Genocide ©
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[inter…] ested in this specimen.” Mengele’s rage diminished, and he said, “Good! … Beautiful!” and spoke of sending it to Berlin.45

Similarly, when he learned that one identical twin had an undescended testicle, he not only studied the other twin from the standpoint of evaluating possible genetic factors, but also sought to learn all he could about the phenomenon of the undescended testicle. And he pursued a hypothesis concerning the low hairline of Gypsies as an identifying characteristic to the point of insisting, against all evidence, that a group of French nomads were of Gypsy origin. Dr. Alexander O., in relating this story, commented, “Such a learned stupidity, so ingenious,” and thought this “level of sophistication in stupidity” to be characteristically German.

Mengele, according to Marek P., would follow his “usual hospital routine” in the morning, checking on the medical blocks, participating frequently in various aspects of the killing, and later going to his pathological laboratory in Birkenau in order to obtain the results of post-mortem examinations. In this way, Dr. P. concluded, “he combined his interest in killing procedures with his research interests.”

And he behaved in specific ways like a research scientist. Prisoner doctors observed his intensity, ambition and apparent seriousness of purpose, his being a “work addict” as opposed to the relative laziness of other SS doctors. We know their impression of his being “all over the camp,” and Nyiszli refers to his energy in rushing back and forth between the ramp, where he selected, to the pathology unit, where he spent “long hours” and would insist on having Nyiszli show him various tissues under the microscope.46 Dr. Abraham C., Mengele's radiologist, thought that his greatest pleasure was to "spend hours and hours in Nyiszli's autopsy room because he seemed to have a genuine passion for medical questions, which, of course, could be best resolved in the autopsy room." Prisoner doctors observed how Mengele would rush from the medical wards to his beloved research areas, would come early in the morning to the Gypsy block to study noma cases despite his great fatigue from having slept little because of having been most of the night directing people toward the gas chamber. And he was indeed unusual in coming in on Sundays to make measurements and work on his records.

Mengele s constant collecting was equated by Teresa W with the anthropology of that time, but researchers have always questioned any scientific policy of endless accumulation and measuring. A young German scientist wrote in 1935: “It is not useful to take as many measurements as possible; one must restrict oneself to the most significant ones.” The young scientist was Josef Mengele; and in the same doctoral dissertation he spoke critically of a previous researcher who had “lost himself in details.”47 In Auschwitz that critic seems to have done the same, but, given his equation of Auschwitz with opportunity, he considered all details there to be “significant ones.”

Everyone was aware of the extent of Mengele’s scientific ambition, but W. went further in her impression that what he was doing was part of a  
Medical Killing and the
Psychology of Genocide

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