Dr Robert Jay Lifton THE NAZI DOCTORS:
                        Medical Killing and the
                            Psychology of Genocide ©
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Chapter 11

Prisoner Doctors:
The Agony of Selections 
  They dealt with me nearly like a human being — but all the while there was the reality of the camps.   
  — Auschwitz prisoner doctor  
For prisoner doctors to remain healers was profoundly heroic and equally paradoxical: heroic in their combating the overwhelming Auschwitz current of murder; paradoxical in having to depend upon those who had abandoned healing for killing — the Nazi doctors. And before prisoner doctors could be healers in Auschwitz, they had to succeed in the very difficult task of surviving, mentally as well as physically.

Only from late 1942 were significant numbers of prisoner doctors permitted to work on hospital blocks, often at first as an orderly or a nurse rather than a doctor. Earlier, there had been near total neglect of the sick: a handful of prisoner doctors (mostly Polish; and in the women’s camp German and then Czech Jewish as well) had virtually nothing in the way, of medicine or treatment to offer the overwhelming numbers of moribund patients. Patients were further victimized by SS men and prisoner capos who were medically ignorant, often sadistic, and inclined to try their hand at medical procedures (a notorious former locksmith, for example, boasted of having performed many amputations).  
Terror and Privilege
From late 1942 or early 1943, Jews who arrived as doctors were not only permitted to live but were made a privileged category of prisoner. But they, nevertheless, retained an underlying terror from what they had 
Medical Killing and the
Psychology of Genocide

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