Dr Robert Jay Lifton THE NAZI DOCTORS:
                        Medical Killing and the
                            Psychology of Genocide ©
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The Auschwitz Self: Psychological Themes 
their annihilation is only a millimeter long.” The anti-Jewish ethos, that is, was everywhere.

But Jewish doctors one had actually known, sometimes as close colleagues or respected teachers, interfered with the ethos. One former Nazi doctor, for instance, recalled “the great figures [with whom he had studied] — Wasserman, Morganroth — and also Blumenthal, the man from whom I learned most about serology,” and told me how the Jews “disappeared” from his institute.* While this doctor pleaded helplessness, and held to his ardent Nazi views, his sense of guilt here was palpable, and the pattern was true for other Nazi doctors as well. There could be parallel tendencies even in Auschwitz: Wirths, for instance, was “correct” and even “gentlemanly” to individual Jewish doctors, helping them and putting them in responsible positions, while at the same time holding to a strongly anti-Jewish Nazi ethos. He kept the faith — on one level by maintaining separate hospital blocks for Jews and non-Jews, and much more malignantly by his active role in the medicalized killing of Jews. In virtually all cases the Auschwitz self sought to block out potentially guilty images of actual Jews in favor of an ideological vision of constructive purpose in eliminating Jews or of “solving” the “Jewish problem.” There were conflicts in that combined stance, as we know; but mostly of a kind that did little to interrupt the work of the Auschwitz self. 
Deadly Logic and Sacred Science 
Highly important to the German-Nazi ethos was the claim to logic, rationality, and science. In Auschwitz that claim had special significance in its very grotesqueness. Consider Ernst B.’s description of “rational” Auschwitz discussions among the doctors concerning the necessity of killing all the Jews — providing a “real” solution to an intractable problem rather than the unfeasible solutions of the past (the Madagascar Plan, ghettos that “leaked,” etc. [see pages 205-6]). It was this claim to rational thought that made Dr. B. so irate when I raised the question of possible similarities between Auschwitz attitudes and those of the Jonestown mass suicide-murder of 1978 (see page 330): the latter was a form of idealism and stupidity, while he and his Auschwitz colleagues carefully considered questions of logic and theory. Here one thinks of Hitler’s “ice-cold logic,” operating so that (as one scholar put it): “from insane premises to monstrous conclusions Hitler was relentlessly logical” and in this way “derived the conclusion that he who loves the human race must destroy the Jews.”32 This deadly logic has an important relationship
* August von Wasserman (1866-1925), serologist, developer of Wasserman reaction for the diagnosis of syphilis, and, for a time, director of the Kaiser Wilhelm Institute in Berlin-Dahlem; Julius Morganroth (1871-1924), bacteriologist, who worked with Paul Ehrlich; and Franz Blumenthal (1878- ), leading dermatologist and serologist who worked with Wasserman and emigrated to the United States in 1934 (and therefore was the only one of these doctors to “disappear”).   
Medical Killing and the
Psychology of Genocide

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