Dr Robert Jay Lifton THE NAZI DOCTORS:
                        Medical Killing and the
                            Psychology of Genocide ©
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Introduction to Part I 
Prior to Auschwitz and the other death camps, the Nazis established a policy of direct medical killing: that is, killing arranged within medical channels, by means of medical decisions, and carried out by doctors and their assistants. The Nazis called this program “euthanasia.” Since, for them, this term camouflaged mass murder, I have throughout this book enclosed it within quotation marks when referring to that program. The Nazis based their justification for direct medical killing on the simple concept of “ife unworthy of life” (lebensunwertes Leben). While the Nazis did not originate this concept, they carried it to its ultimate biological, racial, and “therapeutic” extreme.

Of the five identifiable steps by which the Nazis carried out the principle of “life unworthy of life,” coercive sterilization was the first. There followed the killing of “impaired” children in hospitals; and then the killing of “impaired” adults, mostly collected from mental hospitals, in centers especially equipped with carbon monoxide gas. This project was extended (in the same killing centers) to “impaired” inmates of concentration and extermination camps and, finally, to mass killings, mostly of Jews, in the extermination camps themselves. In part I, I discuss the first four steps, in relation to the Nazis’ overall biomedical vision and as a prelude to Auschwitz and the other death camps.  
Medical Killing and the
Psychology of Genocide

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