Dr Robert Jay Lifton THE NAZI DOCTORS:
                        Medical Killing and the
                            Psychology of Genocide ©
  Page 226  
Previous Page

Home Page
Home Page  
   Next Page
Chapter 12

Prisoner Doctors:
 Struggles to Heal  
  One day I broke the syringe. I was terrified. It was a much worse crime to break a syringe than to kill a man. A syringe was worth more than a human life.   
  — Auschwitz prisoner doctor   
  Our pride my pride is to have been able to remain human there . . . . I believe we remained doctors in spirit in spite of everything . . .   
  — Auschwitz prisoner doctor  
 "On a Certain Level Collegial"
Yet the prisoner doctors’ impulse to heal persisted impressively. That impulse, in fact, bound them to SS doctors and created strange, contradictory, and yet important relationships between the two groups. As the SS doctor Ernst B. told me, Auschwitz regulations strictly forbade “fraternization” with prisoners; but, as he added, “the psychological fact is that men cannot live together without fraternization.” Living together in this sense meant having to work together for at least some common goals.

Dr. B also said that  “the doctors wanted more hospital buildings, the others [SS Command] said fewer and more fueling of the fire [the killing].” Whatever the inconsistencies of SS doctors on that matter, the principle of more hospital facilities and more actual healing appealed to their sense of themselves as physicians even as it became consistent with official policy. And there were occasions when they allied themselves with prisoner doctors against representatives of command. For instance, Olga Lengyel told how Dr. Fritz Klein befriended her owing to their common Rumanian language and origin in Transylvania, and defended her against the threats  
Medical Killing and the
Psychology of Genocide

Robert J. Lifton
ISBN 0-465-09094
© 1986
Previous Page  Back Page 226 Forward  Next Page