Dr Robert Jay Lifton THE NAZI DOCTORS:
                        Medical Killing and the
                            Psychology of Genocide ©
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To an extraordinary extent, Wirths’s capacity for any psychological equilibrium depended upon his ties to close family members, especially to his wife. She and their first three children, then very young, were with him in Auschwitz for some months, perhaps almost a year, in late 1943 through September 1944. Before and after that time, over the remainder of his two-and-a-half years in Auschwitz, he wrote frequent long letters to her, letters that were passionate, imploring, and often desperate. He invested his wife and children — and that part of himself bound to them — with a quality of absolute purity and goodness. And he clung to that purity and goodness with the special intensity of a man being consumed by evil.

In his first letter, written on 7 September 1942, just a day after his arrival in Auschwitz, he immediately connects his love and duty toward wife and family with his work in Auschwitz. Referring to the “superhuman” task he must accomplish there, he says that all he does is “for you, my life, my heart, for you and the children”; and that “nothing is impossible as long as I have you, my beloved.” Indeed, he renders his Auschwitz task an immortalizing project: dealing with a “wild country that requires much work to be done, much German spirit, energy, and German work.” It will be the work of pioneers not easy, but it must be done for our children, my angel, for our children.”27

He struggles to suppress initial shock and horror and quickly invokes destiny and duty. He associates her “immensely great love” with the “protective inoculations” he requires for the assignment.28 That is, their love is to inoculate him against what he sees and does at Auschwitz. And once the ordeal is over, “then we will be allowed to be true only to ourselves my love and this will be worth the trouble.”29 At that time he will have earned the full joy of their love by completing this Auschwitz responsibility. Auschwitz becomes associated with an ennobling sense of German mission on behalf of the absolute purity of his wife and children, an immortal mission on behalf of the future.

In subsequent letters, he pours out an endless series of endearments, including every kind of diminutive of her name: “most beloved wife,” “dear soul,” “you my whole heart,” “beloved little treasure,” “little birdy,” “little Father Christmas,” and “Almighty One.” His intensity is accompanied by a certain formality of structure (confirmed by German readers): his endearments are absolute, but his style and phrasing are far from uninhibited The endearments are accompanied by and in fact greatly contribute to his struggle for control

During the last half of 1943, a major theme in his letters is his joyful anticipation of his family’s joining him in Auschwitz. Emanating from the death camp is an almost coy tone of preparation as he describes the removal of piles of débris and the ruins of an old cellar, and tells his wife that “for the last two days a large Kommando has been working in our garden,” and that he has found an architect “who makes very nice draw- [… ings]  
Medical Killing and the
Psychology of Genocide

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