Dr Robert Jay Lifton THE NAZI DOCTORS:
                        Medical Killing and the
                            Psychology of Genocide ©
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Healing-Killing Conflict: Eduard Wirths 
kill him.16 At that point Wirths’s emotions were undoubtedly affected by his own confusion, guilt, and anxiety about the future. 
Experimental Research 
But prisoners' views of Wirths depended upon their individual vantage points, and some were extremely critical of him, especially of his experimental research.

Wirths’s main research. concerned pre-cancerous growths of the cervix (the outer portion of the uterus). It involved, first, use of a then-new instrument, the colposcope, which was inserted through the vagina, so that the cervix could be viewed first in its natural state, and then after the application of certain substances (acetic acid and an iodized compound). When certain changes were observed (questionable cases were to be considered positive), the cervix was surgically removed and sent to his brother's laboratory in Hamburg-Altona (under the supervision of Hinselmann, Wirths’s old professor and one of the first doctors to use the colposcope) where the tissue was studied for pre-cancerous growths . Wirths’s brother, an already noted gynecologist, was involved in the work, and since he did the surgery and held demonstrations for others, was considered by some inmates to be its initiator.17

While, as Dr. Marie L. explained, “at first sight this experiment appear[ed] relatively harmless,” that turned out to be far from the case: the colposcopic examination was unreliable; moreover, it was unnecessary to remove the entire cervix (a biopsy could have been done); and the poor condition of Auschwitz inmates made for many complications, including infections and hemorrhages, some of which either caused deaths or else left patients sufficiently debilitated to be selected for the gas chamber. This prisoner doctor was later to declare that Wirths’s project “equals the other experiments in its, arbitrary nature and utter contempt … [and] originate[s] … from Nazi minds without scruples.”

Several survivor physicians condemned Wirths to me for the killing of Dr. Samuel, the Jewish surgeon who combined pathos and arrogance in his close collaboration with Wirths and other SS doctors under the illusion that it would enable him and his daughter to survive (see pages 250-53). Both were killed, and Samuel’s death in particular has been looked upon as a betrayal on the part of Wirths in either giving the order or acceding to it. Thus Dr. Jan W. insisted, “The liquidation of Dr. Samuel said something about his [Wirths’s] character because Samuel collaborated with him for quite a long time, and he made use of Samuel’s knowledge.”

Langbein condemned Wirths’s typhus experiments, which resulted in two fatalities; and it was, in fact, the chief doctor’s secretary who made this surreptitious episode more widely known (see pages 291-92).18

As physician survivors evaluated the larger Auschwitz experience, their view of Wirths tended to become more critical. Dr. Wanda J., despite being protected by him, spoke of him as having been “more clever” than  
Medical Killing and the
Psychology of Genocide

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