Dr Robert Jay Lifton THE NAZI DOCTORS:
                        Medical Killing and the
                            Psychology of Genocide ©
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Doubling as German?  
Is there something especially German in doubling? Germany, after all, is the land of the Doppelgänger, the double as formalized in literature and humor. Otto Rank, while tracing the theme back to Greek mythology and drama, stresses its special prominence in German literary and philosophical romanticism, and refers to the “inner split personality, characteristic of the romantic type.”33 That characterization, not only in literature but in political and social thought, is consistent with such images as the “torn condition” (Zerrissenheit), or “cleavage,” and the “passages and galleries” of the German soul.34 Nietzsche asserted that duality in a personal way — by depicting himself as both “the antichrist” and “the crucified”; and similar principles of  “duality-in-unity” can be traced to earlier German writers and poets such as Hölderlin, Heine, and Kleist.35

Indeed, Goethe’s treatment of the Faust legend is a story of German doubling:  
Two souls, alas, reside within my breast
And each withdraws from and repels its brother.36
And the original Faust, that doctor of magic, bears more than a passing resemblance to his Nazi countrymen in Auschwitz. In Goethe’s hands, Faust is inwardly divided into a prior self responsible to worldly commitments, including those of love, and a second self characterized by hubris in its quest for the supernatural power of “the higher ancestral places.”* In a still earlier version of the legend, Faust acknowledges the hegemony of his evil self by telling a would-be spiritual rescuer, “I have gone further than you think and have pledged myself to the devil with my own blood, to be his in eternity, body and soul.”38 Here his attitude resembles the Auschwitz self’s fidelity to evil. And Thomas Mann’s specific application of the Faust legend to the Nazi historical experience captures through a musician protagonist the diabolical quest of the Auschwitz self for unlimited “creative power”: the promise of absolute breakthrough, of
* The passage concerning the “two souls” continues: 
One with tenacious organs holds in love
And clinging lust the world within its embraces.
The other strongly sweeps this dust above
Into the higher ancestral places
The historian of German literature Ronald Gray finds patterns of “polarity and synthesis” in various spheres of German culture: Luther’s concept of a God who “works by contraries,” the Hegelian principle of thesis and antithesis and the Marxist dialectic emerging from Hegel. In all of these, there is the “fusion of opposites,” the rending of the individual as well as the collective self, and the passionate quest for unity.37 One could almost say that the German apocalyptic tradition — the Wagnerian “twilight of the gods” and the general theme of the death-haunted collective end — may be the “torn condition” extended into the realm of larger human connectedness and disconnectedness.   
Medical Killing and the
Psychology of Genocide

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