Dr Robert Jay Lifton THE NAZI DOCTORS:
                        Medical Killing and the
                            Psychology of Genocide ©
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my knees and thanked Heaven from an overflowing heart for granting me the good fortune of being permitted to live at this time.” Then his equally enthusiastic soldiering and apparent willingness to risk his life for that “release.” Then his survivor formulation of the times as “inwardly sick and rotten,” yet “moving toward a great metamorphosis.” His subsequent vision and social action can be understood as an effort to re-create “that awesome moment [at the beginning of the First World War] to cleanse it of all impurities, and preserve it, so that this time the goal of 1914 would be reached: to endow Germany with a political foundation fitted to the scale of the times.”18

There seem to have been definite parallels in Turkish historical experience prior to their mass murder of Armenians in 1915. Within the Ottoman empire, throughout the latter part of the nineteenth century, there was an atmosphere of progressive “decay and disintegration,” along with a continuous if losing struggle for spiritual and political unification. The Turks also experienced humiliating forms of failed regeneration in their disastrous military enterprises during the 1912 Balkan war (ignominious defeat at the hands of their former slaves and wards, the Greeks and the Bulgarians) and their abortive Russian campaign in 1915 as a German ally. Vahakn N. Dadrian observes that the Turks moved closer to genocide as their perception of their situation proceeded “from the condition of mere strain, to that of crisis, to a precipitate crisis, and eventually to the cataclysm of war.”19

The stage of sickness, then, includes the experience of collective loss and death immersion the promise of redemptive revitalization, including total merging of self with a mystical collectivity; the absolute failure of that promise, followed by newly intensified experience of collective death imagery and death equivalents; leading in turn to a hunger for a “cure” commensurate in its totality with the “sickness.”  
The Vision of Total Cure 
There develops a collective desperation for cure. But whatever vision is to qualify as a cure must hold out the promise of shared vitality and renewed confidence in collective immortality. In our century, any such vision is likely to be bound up with a sense of nation, with what we call “nationalism.” The national comes to combine spiritual and biological connectedness, to provide a blending of the immortal cultural and racial substance of any particular group. One may thus speak of a “national organism” in terms both of general biological continuity and of viewing one’s society as similar to a biological organism with “needs for its proper development.” Those needs become “supreme values” that take precedence over everything else because, unless they are pursued, the organism will die.20  
Medical Killing and the
Psychology of Genocide

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