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The Nazi Doctors: Medical Killing and the Psychology of Genocide

by Robert Jay Lifton (Author)


Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly
Nazi doctors did more than conduct bizarre experiments on concentration-camp
inmates; they supervised the entire process of medical mass murder, from
selecting those who were to be exterminated to disposing of corpses. Lifton (The
Broken Connection; The Life of the Self shows that this medically supervised
killing was done in the name of "healing," as part of a racist program to
cleanse the Aryan body politic. After the German eugenics campaign of the 1920s
for forced sterilization of the "unfit,"it was but one step to "euthanasia,"
which in the Nazi context meant systematic murder of Jews. Building on
interviews with former Nazi physicians and their prisoners, Lifton presents a
disturbing portrait of careerists who killed to overcome feelings of
powerlessness. He includes a chapter on Josef Mengele and one on Eduard Wirths,
the "kind," "decent" doctor (as some inmates described him) who set up the
Auschwitz death machinery. Lifton also psychoanalyzes the German people, scarred
by the devastation of World War I and mystically seeking regeneration. This
profound study ranks with the most insightful books on the Holocaust.

From Library Journal
This extraordinary work analyzes the terrible, seemingly contradictory
phenomenon of doctors becoming agents of mass murder. With chilling power, it
limns the Nazi transmutation of values that allowed medical killing to be seen
as a therapeutic healing of the body politic. Based on arresting historical
scholarship and personal interviews with Nazi and prisoner doctors, the book
traces the inexorable logic leading from early Nazi sterilization and euthanasia
of its own citizens to mass extermination of European Jews and other "racial
undesirables." Ultimately the book asks how doctors rationalized being
"killer-healers." Lifton's responsea multifaceted evaluation of genocide, of the
seductive power of Nazi ideology, and of the psychological process of
"doubling"is both profound and thought-provoking. A remarkable achievement; it
is essential reading. Benny Kraut, Judaic Studies Dept., Univ. of Cincinnati


Product Details

Paperback: 576 pages
Publisher: Basic Books (August 2000)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0465049052

 

 

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