Dr Robert Jay Lifton THE NAZI DOCTORS:
                        Medical Killing and the
                            Psychology of Genocide ©
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Chapter 10

Socialization to Killing 
  They [the SS doctors] did their work just as someone who goes to an office goes about his work. They were gentlemen who came and went, who supervised and were relaxed, sometimes smiling, sometimes joking, but never unhappy. They were witty if they felt like it. Personally I did not get the impression that they were much affected by what was going on — nor shocked. It went on for years. It was not just one day.   
   — Auschwitz prisoner doctor  
Virtually all Nazi doctors in Auschwitz complied in conducting selections, although they varied in how they did so and in their attitudes toward what they were doing. These attitudes ranged from enthusiasm to ambivalence to reluctance and temporary refusal, and in at least one case, to successful resistance or at least avoidance.

For most SS doctors, selections were a job — somewhat unpleasant and often exhausting, and an occasion for heavy drinking, as Dr. Karl K. explained:  
The selections were mostly an ordeal [Strapaze, suggesting exertion, fatigue, physical strain, drudgery]. Namely, to stand all night. And it wasn’t just standing all night — but the next day was completely ruined because one got drunk every time .... By the last half of the night he is already half high, and at the end he is drunk ....

[The drinking] was during the selection . . . . A certain number of bottles were provided for each selection and everybody drank and toasted the others .... One could not stay out of it [the drinking]. And the result was — when it was getting to be two, three o’clock, and one started getting very tired, then one just drank more.*  

* SS doctors in their own way shared in the sense of entitlement described by Konrad Morgen (see pages 138-39) when visiting an SS guard room that, far from spartan, contained couches with SS men “with glassy eyes” lying about and being served “like pashas” by beautiful Jewish female prisoners. The SS person (probably an officer) escorting Morgen, upon seeing how appalled the judge seemed, “only shrugged his shoulders and said: ‘The men have had a tough night behind them, they had to get several transports out of the way.’”¹ The escort too believed in that entitlement.
Medical Killing and the
Psychology of Genocide

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