Dr Robert Jay Lifton THE NAZI DOCTORS:
                        Medical Killing and the
                            Psychology of Genocide ©
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euphemism Endlösung, or Final Solution, for mass murder. Dr. Magda V. was struck by Dorf’s similarity to Nazi doctors: “He wasn't a monster — … none of them [the Nazi doctors] were, you know” — but merely a fallible and corruptible human being. Mengele was closest, but, she concluded, “I think they [Nazi doctors] were all Dorfs.”

Recognizing Mengele and other Nazi doctors in this believable fictional character also helped the metamorphosis from deity to human; Mengele could have been seen as a man with talent for maneuver whose ambition. had been fiercely aroused, and who sanitized the killing project he so effectively served.

The revelations that emerged in 1985, at the time of the discovery of his corpse, concerning Mengele’s postwar life in Europe and especially South America change little in this evaluation.60 From the son who was born when Mengele worked in Auschwitz, and a few people who lent him support or shelter, we gain a sense of a man increasingly on the run: at first, effectively manipulative and successful in avoiding pursuit but, over the years, more and more alone, despairing, frightened, fearful of being hunted by “the Jews,” at times even suicidal. He no longer had his Auschwitz stage. Rather than absolute control over others, he had virtually no control over his own destiny. Not surprisingly, he remained a fanatical ideologue; but as his diaries lapsed into rantings about science and religion, he became increasingly an ideological caricature of a caricature. Yet he had been capable of affection: toward his son, who at the age of twelve encountered him briefly as the “nicest of uncles”; toward his brother’s widow, who became Mengele’s second wife in what his son described as a “love marriage”; much later toward a housekeeper whom he asked to live with him but who refused because he would not marry her; and finally toward a pack of mongrel dogs he enjoyed spending time with and providing with medical and surgical treatment.

He was reported to have died in 1979 as a result of a heart attack while swimming and to have been buried under the name of another man in Brazil. The identification was made from a study of his remains, especially bones and teeth; now it was his corpse that was being dissected, rather than the corpses of his Auschwitz victims.

Yet that resolution was psychologically unsatisfactory, especially for Auschwitz survivors. The need was to capture him and put him on trial, to hear his confession, to put him at their mercy. Failing that, many survivors refused to believe that the remains in the Brazilian grave were Mengele’s. Soon after that identification, a twin whom Mengele had studied told me that she simply did not believe that the arrogant, overbearing figure she had known in Auschwitz could have undergone a “change in personality” and become the frightened hermit in Brazil. She was saying, in effect, that she and others had not been provided with a psychological experience of that “metamorphosis” from evil deity to evil human being. But we do have a story of metamorphosis after all — that of a man divested of his power for evil, gradually disintegrating in life, mentally and physi- […cally]  
Medical Killing and the
Psychology of Genocide

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