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The Holocaust History Project.

 Dr Robert Jay Lifton THE NAZI DOCTORS:
                        Medical Killing and the
                            Psychology of Genocide ©
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This Jewish doctor’s judgment emerged clearly (Zenkteller “was the only [prisoner] doctor who would beat, insult without reason …. the only doctor who would eliminate, persecute, do evil for evil’s sake"), and his rage was such that, encountering Dr. Zenkteller in a hospital soon after the liberation, O. seriously considered killing him (“I assure you it is the fear of being surprised and given away which kept me from strangling him”).

Other prisoner doctors essentially agreed. They also understood Zenkteller to be psychologically disturbed: he was, as one prisoner doctor put it, “erratic” and “highly unstable,” his beating of both colleagues and patients an aspect of his “episodes of violence.” Part of that instability was the inevitable Auschwitz twist or contradiction — in his case, an occasional show of decency. When another prisoner doctor was critically ill with typhus, it was Dr. Zenkteller who first tried to place him on an “Aryan” block where he had a better chance to survive; though the attempt failed, the fact that he had been taken to the block rendered the ill doctor sufficiently “élite” that he was not sent to the gas chamber when a selection was made.

Fundamentally, however, as the other prisoner doctor went on to say, Zenkteller “was a faithful servant of the SS doctors.” While Zenkteller himself  “was powerful enough to decide on the life and death of any inmate, even the chief physicians among the inmates,” in relation to the SS doctors “his submissiveness was one-hundred percent.”

Zenkteller’s story resembles, in many ways, the stories of Adam T. and Wladislaw Dering: the combination of Polish nationalism with anti-Semitism; early fear and near physical and mental breakdown in response to brutal treatment; adaptation by means of servile behavior to the Nazi hierarchy and murderous behavior toward prisoners; and then the development of a set of self-serving structural and psychological arrangements for perpetuating personal power and omnipotence. But Zenkteller differs from the other two collaborators in his extensive physical violence and generally sadistic behavior. I will argue later that such sadism is inseparable from a sense of omnipotence and has to do with overcoming one’s own struggles with death and mutilation. But however we understand these psychological and social currents, we must recognize the extent to which the Auschwitz environment encouraged their coalescence into a self-process that rendered at least a few prisoner doctors activists in Nazi medicalized killing. 
Jewish Medical Collaborator: Maximilian Samuel 
The one Jewish doctor I know of who can be included here, Maximilian Samuel, had been a distinguished academic gynecologist in Cologne.8 He had also been an ardent German nationalist, was awarded the Iron Cross for military service during the First World War, and was active in a  
Medical Killing and the
Psychology of Genocide

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