Dr Robert Jay Lifton THE NAZI DOCTORS:
                        Medical Killing and the
                            Psychology of Genocide ©
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Chapter 4

“Wild Euthanasia”:
The Doctors Take Over
  For quite a number of doctors ... Hitler not only had the power of a commander in chief in a political sense, but was also the highest ranking physician.  
  — Victor von Weizsäker  
What was discontinued was only the visible dimension of the project: the large-scale gassing of patients. T4 officially ceased as a program, but that turned out to be still another deception. Widespread killing continued in a second phase, sometimes referred to in Nazi documents as “wild euthanasia” because doctors — encouraged, if not directed, by the regime — could now act on their own initiative concerning who would live or die.¹

While the regime ordered most of the gas chambers dismantled (to be reassembled , as it turned out, in the East), it did nothing to stop the ideological and institutional momentum of medical killing. The regime’s clear message, in fact, was that the killings were to go on, but more quietly.And more quiet killing meant more isolated, individual procedures. Doctors acted on their personal and ideological inclinations, along with their sense of the regime’s pulse. That pulse emanated no longer from the Chancellery, which bowed out along with T4 itself, but from the Reich Interior Ministry and its national medical subdivision. There were changes in geographical location, but the regime continued to make transportation arrangements, required that patients’ deaths be recorded centrally, and in some cases maintained T4 experts in a partially supervisory role. Patients were now killed not by gas but by starvation and drugs, the latter method in particular rendering the killing still more “medical.”

The children’s program was not icluded under the T4 “halt.” Killing
Medical Killing and the
Psychology of Genocide

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