Dr Robert Jay Lifton THE NAZI DOCTORS:
                        Medical Killing and the
                            Psychology of Genocide ©
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In the case of the Turks, whatever their attitude toward science, they did put forward a mystical vision of pan-Turanianism (or “Turkification”) “which alleged a prehistoric mythic unity among Turanian peoples based on racial origin.”43 And one cannot doubt the experience of transcendence of Turkish nationalists in their reversion to fundamentalist Mohammedanism as a call to an anti-Armenian-Christian crusade — all on behalf of a new vision of Ottoman glory.

The experience of transcendence, then, anticipates the genocide, and to a considerable degree prefigures a state of transcendence that can become associated, directly or by proxy, with the killing itself. 
Killing as Therapy  
The “disease” with which the Nazis were attempting to cope was death itself, death made unmanageable by “the modern necrophilia” of the First World War. Thus Hugo Ball wrote of “death, working systematically, counterfeiting life … bestial monstrous yet unreal.”44* One way to deal with a death-saturated historical environment is to embrace death itself as the means of cure. The Nazis did this in a variety of ways in a romantic worship of death and the creation of “an ancestor cult where the dead were more important than the living”; in an art “deeply tinged with death” (Nordic heroes, for instance) as “a prelude to initiation into the community”; and especially in remobilizing the martyred dead of the First World War in the claim of carrying out for them an immortalizing survivor mission of annihilating enemies of the German state. Hitler, as prophet and savior, came to represent the martyred dead and serve as their link with the new community of the living. The “healing” vanguard was the Waffen SS, whose “supreme duty was to deal out and accept death”; to seek out the most dangerous missions, to seek out death itself if necessary, and to kill with complete hardness. Also part of a vision of healing was the policy of individual SS members serving as models of racial purification.46 Having met the ultimate test of health and cure, the SS could represent the sacred dead and be licensed to kill without limit. 
The “Deadly” Victim  
Genocide requires both a specific victim group and certain relationships to that group. While their biological focus enabled the Nazis to extend their genocidal efforts to Gypsies, Russians, and Poles, the Jews remained the central target and the most specific psychological victim of the Nazi genocidal dynamic. Nazi perpetrators had to see their victims as posing absolute danger,
* Ball was attacking materialism and the machine, and declared that “belief in matter is a belief in death.”45   
Medical Killing and the
Psychology of Genocide

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