Dr Robert Jay Lifton THE NAZI DOCTORS:
                        Medical Killing and the
                            Psychology of Genocide ©
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were working toward an “organically indivisible national community,” opposition to which was considered “the symptom of an illness which threatens the healthy unity of the … national organism.”30 For the image of National Socialism as “nothing but applied biology” was not just one doctor’s perception from a single Nazi speech; it was a vision put forward by the movement for building nothing less than a biologically evolved state. Gottfried Benn, one of the few German writers of stature who, at least temporarily, embraced the Nazi cause, welcomed “the emergence of a new biological type, a mutation of history and a people’s wish to breed itself.” Benn was also a physician concerned with the “vitality” of the German race. There seems to have been a bit of the same in Martin Heidegger — no physician but one of the great philosophers of the modern era — in justifying his early sympathy as the Germans “will to be ourselves.”31

The temptation for doctors lay in the fact that their realm (that of biology and cure) was to be the realm of national rejuvenation. Their difficulty lay in the murderous course chosen for that rejuvenation and in the group entrusted with the task of “racial police” — the SS. Doctors joining the SS had little difficulty accepting its racial requirements — the establishment of Aryan family roots going back several generations — as part of the principle of SS people embodying the racial ideal Where they began to have difficulty was when, as members of this exemplary group, they were expected to take part in the killing. For that they needed an Auschwitz self, or an equivalent product of doubling. Its formation was aided by the medical temptation of taking over the entire Nazi ethos of controlling the controlling image of Nazi life. 
The Anti-Semitic Ethos 
The anti-Jewish aspect of the Nazi ethos was also biologized, so that the Nazi doctor arriving in Auschwitz brought with him some of the ethos of Jews as the threatening anti-race. That imagery was psychologically helpful to the Auschwitz self, since selections were easier to perform if one viewed as potentially murderous enemies the people one was sending to their deaths

Different from these draconian, abstract, and primal images of Jews were specific contacts with actual Jewish colleagues. Here resentment and envy concerning the number — and, in many cases, the success and talent of Jewish doctors — led to satisfaction at their being forced out of German medicine (which tended quickly to improve the position of Nazi doctors), along with a guilty awareness of complicity in the mistreatment of men who were, after all, their colleagues. As a doctor who was briefly at Auschwitz put it, “You could always say that Jews were guilty” in connection with the Communist danger and other political difficulties, and declare them to be “arch enemies of Germany,” after which “the step to  
Medical Killing and the
Psychology of Genocide

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