Dr Robert Jay Lifton THE NAZI DOCTORS:
                        Medical Killing and the
                            Psychology of Genocide ©
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may be evaluated in different ways. I, for my part, say “Thank God, that this is so!”29 
The totalized modern state always claims a higher principle — in this case, purification of the world’s most valuable race as a means of curing the prevailing human illness. And we recall Werner Best’s declaration of the Nazi cure as the “political principle of totalitarianism,” within which any alternative ideas must be “ruthlessly dealt with, as the symptom of an illness which threatens the healthy unity of the indivisible national organism” (see page 153).30

One renders the body politic total as a means of controlling underlying chaos and formlessness — a principle especially stressed in the creation of an overall, German imperial state — the Reich — from a politically disunited group of regional entities.* Hitler meant it when he contrasted “the saving doctrine of the nothingness and insignificance of the individual human being, and of his continued existence in the visible immortality of the Nation.” 32 Rather than be individuals, people — at least those who qualified biologically — could share in this immortalizing power of state and race. One could even come to believe the specific historical totalism in the claim that “all German history … must be seen only as the pre-history of National Socialism.”33

Again, there are suggestions of similar currents in the Turkish situation. The “young Turks” who sought to reform the Ottoman empire spearheaded “a major campaign to change the social structure of Ottoman society as an antidote to internal discord and conflict, and also as a means of recapturing imperial, Panturkic glory.” Their cure included “an admixture of religious and political ideologies,” and, “genocide became a means for [bringing about] a radical … change in the system.”34 Totalism in a nation state, then, is most likely to emerge as a cure for a death-haunted “illness”; and victimization, violence, and genocide are potential aspects of that cure.  
The Quest for Transcendence 
Part of the cure is the experience of transcendence: of a psychic state so intense that time and death disappear. The cure must maintain, or at least evoke periodically, that psychic experience. One’s own sense of transcendence merges with the image of the endless life of one’s people. In that experience — or promise — of ecstasy, one may be ready to kill, or at least to sanction killing.
* George Weippert, a conservative sociologist, lauded the principle of “totality of power" and of “only one ruler” in the “all-embracing” task of achieving one Reich as “Germany’s mission in this world.” 31   
Medical Killing and the
Psychology of Genocide

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