Dr Robert Jay Lifton THE NAZI DOCTORS:
                        Medical Killing and the
                            Psychology of Genocide ©
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Nazi era as “like a dream.” He remained confused by the power Hitler held over him, dating back from that first speech.

Speer was referring to the almost continuous sense of transcendence he and other Germans experienced during the Nazi era. Given Hitler’s call for a form of national “redemption,” for “a renewed spiritual Reich realized in a political framework … yet also beyond politics,” every small event, indeed every single moment, could be bound up with transcendence, with the messianic purpose of the Thousand-Year Reich. This quality of transcendence associated with the regime could help one avoid awareness of one’s corrupt and self-serving behavior, as was surely the case with Speer and others. 
The Continuous “High State” 
The Nazis were heirs to an extreme form of romantic nationalism, of worship of the “holy, divine Reich” called forth by writers, philosophers, and youth-movement leaders over the previous century. It had to do with “the intimate connection between political reaction and literary romanticism” and included strong elements of Protestant pietism as well as related Catholic religious emotions.38

All this combined with specific Nazi ideological omnipotence to contribute to a sense of being those particular, “children of the gods” who had the right to kill, in a spirit described by one as: “If you will not be my brother, your head will be dropped off your shoulders.”39 That pattern was exemplified by the “oath-bound community” entered into by SS members, so that they could, in their sense of special mission for the Führer and the race, move toward their killing while psychologically maintaining a “high state.”

Transcendence, like everything else, became biologized — as in Ernst Haeckel’s “scientific expressionism” (see pages 441-42) and in Fritz Lenz’s mystical genetics (“Racial hygienists also want to be workers in God’s vineyard” 40). Moreover, under the Nazis, science was so molded that it not only failed to criticize the false assumptions associated with these high states but itself joined the transcendence. There was even an attempt to create an “Aryan physics” with the claim that “scholarship — like everything else brought forth by men — is conditioned by race and blood.”41

Goethe’s critique more than a century earlier of German “transcendence hunger” was remarkable for his inclusion in that category of not only transcendental philosophy but Newtonian physics. He was probably the first to see that what was later to be called positivism could itself be associated with mysticism and transcendence 42 — a pattern exemplified, for instance, by Josef Mengele. Viewing himself as a scientific revolutionary, Mengele could become “God playing doctor” by embracing the transcendent state made available by a highly romanticized, positivistic, and ultimately genocidal Nazi version of science.  
Medical Killing and the
Psychology of Genocide

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