Dr Robert Jay Lifton THE NAZI DOCTORS:
                        Medical Killing and the
                            Psychology of Genocide ©
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Chapter 9 

Selections in the Camp 
  A doctor was not a doctor. A doctor was the selection. That was what the doctor was — the selection.   
  —Auschwitz survivor  
General Camp Selections
Selections could take place virtually anywhere in the camp including of course the medical blocks. We may designate as “general camp selections” (or simply as “camp selections”) those that took place anywhere but in the medical areas. General camp selections could take place on one or more blocks, or in front of the various blocks (sometimes at roll call), or at work Kommandos (often when setting out in early morning), or at any gathering place of the camp. They varied in size from tens to hundreds of people taken from a relatively small area of the camp, to thousands of people from a larger camp unit. Here, too, only Jews were selected.

Like all selections, these were part of the overall equilibrium between extermination and work productivity — part of what I have called the Auschwitz ecology. And they, too, were influenced by “hygienic” considerations within the camp — namely, the drain on “health” facilities and the danger of epidemic created by relatively large numbers of Muselmänner, or extremely emaciated prisoners. Although general policies were handed down from above, there was considerable room for variation and creative improvisation from below.

The fact that the basic Auschwitz policy of killing inmates unable to work began with an order (in May 1942) from Enno Lolling, chief physician of the concentration camps, suggests high-level medical participation in the implementation of the selections policy.¹ And we know of significant medical involvement in its formulation as well. In any case, that policy of killing ostensibly weak inmates was pursued so ruthlessly during the next eighteen months (the last half of 1942 and all of 1943) that frequent additional directives were issued warning that enough prisoners  
Medical Killing and the
Psychology of Genocide

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