Dr Robert Jay Lifton THE NAZI DOCTORS:
                        Medical Killing and the
                            Psychology of Genocide ©
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Healing-Killing, Conflict: Eduard Wirths 
[draw...] ings [and] good suggestions.”30 In later letters he looks forward to the roof being put on, the floor being laid, the windows installed, a special plan for the garden; and still later, with the tone of a thoughtful bourgeois husband, he mentions his purchase of" 2 whiskbrooms, 1 meat-pounder, 1 children's table, 4 matching chairs, a little footstool, a hobbyhorse." He speaks of feeling "embarrassed" by all the preparations necessary for the house - in regard not to Auschwitz victims but to other SS doctors because three of them have to team up in a single house.31

When he writes of his “request to erect the fence soon because of the children,” 32 one wonders how high the fence was to be: only high enough to keep the children in, or, much higher so that little or nothing could be seen of the Auschwitz world outside?

He refers delicately to his sexual longing and aims his one expression of violence at anyone who would take house, happiness, and beloved from him (“I would bash in his skull”). It is striking how far he has removed their relationship from his Auschwitz world as he inquires tenderly about her condition, urges her to do the prescribed exercises, and expresses concern about what was apparently a postpartum depression (after the birth of their fourth child) in which she spoke of dying.33

Ever the family man, there is exuberant mention of pictures of the children, of the appearance of the first tooth in one of them, and of prayerful concern about his mother-in-law’s health. As if to preserve and contrast that family purity, he speaks of “a disgusting fellow” who has impregnated a woman and refuses to marry her.34

A touch of tension emerges as Wirths’s wife seems to resist moving to Auschwitz; and apparently referring to her requirements, he explains that it would be impossible to remove the “dirt and disorder” even after the house has been finished. He then quotes a slightly bitter little joke: a comment by his friend Horst Fischer that the house would be ready “probably only when the war is over,”35 a joke that turned out to have its own prophetic truth. Their daughter later suggested that, in spite of these urgings, “he did not want her [his wife] to be dragged into this.” The Auschwitz side of their relationship was problematic to both, and Wirths’s wife later claimed that, when there witnessing her husband’s pain at performing selections, she wished to leave but did not because of being told by a confidant that her presence was crucial “if you want to save your husband.”36 Each was ambivalent about being there, and about the other’s being there. But he stayed, and she came.

After she has finally left, there is patter about family events and rituals and much about the vicissitudes of his dogs: Basco who “escapes” through a passage created by a bomb crater under a fence; then a second dog “I just had to acquire”; and still a third. And when the two new acquisitions become ill, “my little room at home is … a sick ward.” In late November 1944 in the midst of German military disaster, he refers to the goose he has been raising to send to her for Christmas as “fat and  
Medical Killing and the
Psychology of Genocide

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