Dr Robert Jay Lifton THE NAZI DOCTORS:
                        Medical Killing and the
                            Psychology of Genocide ©
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the social sciences in particular can be ideologized in lethal directions, again in the name of science.

While the collective dynamic is working, individual professionals can feel themselves to be doing something earthshaking, “creating something new.” The most grotesque violation of reason can be hailed as admirable innovation, especially in the case of scholars of international standing, such as Erich Jaensch (who claimed to “demonstrate” the psychology of the “Jewish anti-type”).117 The dynamism of genocide offers considerable temptation to the professional to become the "spiritual engine" of change, revolution, renewal.

Professionals and intellectuals have additional susceptibilities: to the call of the Führer principle as an antidote for isolation and weakness; to romanticized violence and a cult of hardness, as a denial of effeteness, softness, and “scruples”; to the crude and primitive, as a way of disowning sophistication and worldliness. Most of these susceptibilities involve claims to omnipotence in the name of humility, calls to sacrifice in which the sacrificial group is made up of the regime's designated victims. These contradictions can be maintained, lived with, through the professional’s special talent for doubling. Only he or she can become a murderous sorcerer while claiming to be a healer, as did the talented Nazi bacteriologist — “in his early thirties … very self-assured” — who lectured to high Nazi officials on a bacteriological serum he had prepared, “a drop of [which] … would suffice to kill a man … and … leave no trace,” and presented these and other details “as clearly and calmly as though he were addressing a class on the most ordinary matters.”118 One would have to be a professional to engage in the Auschwitz style of medical activity which (in Dr. B.’s words) “consist[ed] only of selecting people for the gas chamber.” Worse, one may do these things with the conviction that they are “in accord with the natural history and biology of man,” and that one is acting as healer and savior. 
The Professional Killers 
The second, less educated group is likely to make up the “hit men” on the front line of the killing. They do the shooting or insert the gas pellets and their role, however diminished, is not eliminated in potential nuclear genocide. Rather than formulate principles or technology of killing, they act on these formulations and carry out the work. Limited in opportunities, they are likely to make killing their only profession; they become the artisans of killing, or the technologists of mass murder.

They can have most of the susceptibilities of the more educated group, and can certainly embrace ideologies that render mass murder a form of cleansing or healing. But rather than viewing themselves as scientists applying higher knowledge, they draw from a “corps spirit,” the sense of shared combat of the most demanding kind. Their hardening is enormously stressed and related to cultural principles of masculinity (or  
Medical Killing and the
Psychology of Genocide

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