Dr Robert Jay Lifton THE NAZI DOCTORS:
                        Medical Killing and the
                            Psychology of Genocide ©
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what she called Mengele’s “diabolic” attitude was his: appearing on a Jewish holiday and announcing, “This is Tishahb’av [the commemoration of the destruction of the First and Second Temples],” and “We will have a concert.” There was a concert, then a roll call, and then an enormous selection, causing her to ask bitterly, “Why should we listen to music while we are being cremated?”

She stressed that Mengele’s behavior was carefully planned: “He must have written it down: music; sit down; Zählappell [roll call]; crematorium.” All this was part of his “sadistic play,” she believed, because “every step Mengele [took] was a psychological basis for torture.” And compared with other SS doctors, Mengele was “more sadistic, … more raffiniert [‘sophisticated, tricky, sly’]. He [was] more elaborated … because he must know psychology.”
Sometimes the psychological sadism could be naked, as when he spoke to a Jewish woman doctor pleading unsuccessfully for the life of her elderly father, also a doctor: “Your father is seventy years old. Don’t you think he has lived long enough?” Or, to a sick woman: “Have you ever been on the ‘other side’? What is it like over there? . … You will know very soon!”55

Mengele maintained these forms of deadly “colleagueship” until the very end. A prisoner doctor describes encountering him in the infirmary of a camp in Czechoslovakia after Auschwitz had been evacuated. Mengele referred to a patient who was mentally deficient, and said, “If you were intelligent … she could have fever, she could need medication,” meaning that “he wanted to find … a reason to get rid of her [or a means of doing so] because she was an idiot, … and [implied] we were so stupid we did not understand.” She added, in amazement, “Just think … he was already at the time a cornered beast, and that did not mean anything. He still had to find a way to kill someone.” 
The “Double Man” 
Prisoner doctors found themselves struggling with Mengele’s extraordinarily deep-seated contradictions — with his overt doubling. Dr. Abraham C. felt compelled to raise “the big question which we ask ourselves: Was he a kind man, good with children, good in general, who was only driven to do the things he did by his passion for research? Or was he a monster who only plays a role with the children to hide his game better, to get his ends more easily?” While very few prisoners would adhere to the first characterization, the second does not satisfy either. Dr. C. himself seemed to reject both, as he went on to articulate the principle of unfathomability I quoted at the beginning of this book (page 13). Mengele was for Dr. C. the source and epitome of this principle of unfathomability, though he meant it to apply to much that happened in Auschwitz. Dr. Magda V. similarly spoke of Mengele as “a split personality.” She  
Medical Killing and the
Psychology of Genocide

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