Dr Robert Jay Lifton THE NAZI DOCTORS:
                        Medical Killing and the
                            Psychology of Genocide ©
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by a skillful surgeon's scalpel, will kill the patient.”108 (Similarly, the Ache, an Indian group in Latin America, who are hunted by Paraguayans, are described by the latter as “‘rabid rats’; and rabid rats must be exterminated.”)109 Turkish doctors also played a large part in the genocide of Armenians; and one has been quoted as saying, “My Turkishness prevailed over my medical calling.”110 Turkish leaders also asserted their need to destroy the Armenians as a way of revitalizing their empire, of curing their people.

Here the white-coated doctor replaces the black-robed priest as arbiter of death and immortality. The medical figure, the biological soldier, becomes in fact a biological general in the campaign to kill death.

The task is Sisyphean rather than utopian: no amount of killing can bring about the desired solution. So one keeps trying, keeps killing, commits oneself to the principle of killing not just one’s victims but every last one of them. The primal images are those of death, immortality, and murderous cure. 
The Agents 
Genocide requires two groups of people: a professional élite that formulates and supervises the killing, and professional killers who kill. Well before these groups are enlisted for the actual killing, they are influenced by what can be called an atmosphere of genocide. There seems to be something murderous in the air, stories of mass killing that are both disbelieved and believed. It becomes a kind of “middle knowledge” — something one knows and does not know, or acts upon without clearly knowing, or knows and does not act upon.111 It is a combination of knowledge and numbing, but the knowledge seeps through.

There may be a period of impasse and confusion, as occurred in Germany in about March 1941, during which the genocidal dynamic takes shape. The killing project comes to be perceived as the only overall “solution” to a series of dilemmas. Initiatives from below (based on perceptions of what the leader or leaders desire) converge with attitudes, orders, and indirect messages from above in a sequence that is unlikely to be traceable to a specific document but that nonetheless takes definite form, is systematically enacted, and involves a vast number of people working in concert as perpetrators. The process is both arcane and secret on the one hand, and ordinary and almost respectable on the other. 
The Killing Professionals 
Genocidal projects require the active participation of educated professionals — physicians, scientists, engineers, military leaders, lawyers, clergy, university professors and other teachers — who combine to create
Medical Killing and the
Psychology of Genocide

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