Dr Robert Jay Lifton THE NAZI DOCTORS:
                        Medical Killing and the
                            Psychology of Genocide ©
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Healing-Killing Conflict: Eduard Wirths 
officers’ club after having been bombed out of their own quarters: “The proximity of the men there is no good at all.”)51

When in hiding after the war’s end, Wirths’s crusade took the form of mobilizing relatives and friends to look out for his family. And as he began to sense that his existence as a fugitive was his family’s greatest burden (his only future being trial, conviction, and death), his suicide can be viewed as the final act in his crusade.  
A Loyal Nazi  
Whatever his conflicts connected with that crusade, Wirths never ceased to be a leading figure and a respected physician within the Auschwitz SS subculture.

In a letter to his wife of 27 November 1944, he gushes his pleasure (“Isn’t this a fine thing. I want to kiss you, my love with my deeply felt love.”) at 599 men being decorated with the Iron Cross because of their “bravery”52 referring, it turns out, to the revolt of the Sonderkommando, during which one crematorium was set on fire and a hand grenade was thrown into an SS group; the revolt was quickly put down by SS troops whose bravery consisted of slaughtering everyone remotely suspected of having participated in it.* His letters are full of newsy references to gala social occasions: a special dinner in the Führerhaus for department heads, with half a wild duck for each, a hunt in early January 1945, where he shot six hares and was permitted to keep one (“You, my all, get that one tomorrow”); a Christmas party in 1944 at which a talented SS sergeant sang “As a Small Boy at the Mother's Breast” (Als Knäblein klein an der Mutter Brust) and included a comic sequence of Santa Claus bestowing on Wirths “[not] a medal but a liverwurst” (suggesting that the good physician was a sufficiently important member of the group to be made an object of affectionate fun); and lunches and dinners at the home of Baer, the commandant with whom he was friendly — to the point of becoming the mediator — in the Baers’ extreme marital discord.54

He in fact remained a committed Nazi throughout — one who, as Helmut Wirths pointed out, really believed that “the Jews were a danger to Germany”; who supported Hitler’s 1939 warning that if the Jews began a war they, not Germany, would be destroyed; and who could say of the arriving Hungarian Jews during the summer of 1944, “They are the most pitiful of them.” Helmut went on to explain that “[Eduard] believed in National Socialism ... [but] never believed that Hitler himself could know [about the killing of the Jews]” — and that Eduard would tell Helmut, “I must try to go to Hitler [and tell him about this]. He can’t know ... [about these]
* FiIip Müller, a prisoner eyewitness, described how “about 450 of our comrades … had fought bravely and died honorably, refusing to resign themselves meekly to their fate. … . A few SS men had died, a few more had been wounded. … It became known later that when awarding the Iron Cross to several SS men the Lagercommandant had mentioned that this was the first time concentration camp guards had prevented a mass break-out, a feat of bravery for which their Führer had decorated them.”53   
Medical Killing and the
Psychology of Genocide

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