Dr Robert Jay Lifton THE NAZI DOCTORS:
                        Medical Killing and the
                            Psychology of Genocide ©
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model of the genocidal self through collective patterns of “nuclearism” (embrace of the weapons out of attraction to their ultimate power and to their high technology), and visions of idealistic purification and ultimate sacrifice extending even to the lure of Armageddon.

Must all this happen? Some of it has already, but the rest need not. Any witness tells of the danger of some form of repetition of what one has observed, in order to encourage steps to prevent that repetition. One listens to what Loren Eiseley called “the dark murmur that rises from the abyss beneath us, and that draws us with uncanny fascination,”³ and realizes that the murmur is our own, a whisper of danger that must be heard before it becomes a hopeless genocidal scream.

So much stays with me from this work, but I want to end with two images that continue to reverberate within me.

The first is from Auschwitz. I went to the camp a few years ago and was shown the many exhibits maintained there, exhibits that leave nothing to be added concerning the evil human beings can do to other human beings. But the one that left the most profound impression on me was the simplest of all: a room full of shoes, mostly baby shoes.

The second image is from a talk with a Jewish doctor who survived Auschwitz incarceration, told me his story, and became my friend. He described how, at a certain point, he and a few other prisoner doctors were overwhelmed with moribund patients, with suffering people clamoring for relief They did what they could, dispensed the few aspirin they had, but made a point in the process of offering a few words of reassurance and hope He found almost to his surprise that his words had effect, that in that situation it really helped. He concluded that by maintaining one’s determination to try to heal even under the most extreme conditions, “I was impressed with how much one could do.”  
Medical Killing and the
Psychology of Genocide

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