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The Nazi Doctors: Medical Killing And The…

The Nazi Doctors: Medical Killing And The Psychology Of Genocide (original 1986; edition 2000)

by Robert Jay Lifton

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550518,183 (4.18)11
Title:The Nazi Doctors: Medical Killing And The Psychology Of Genocide
Authors:Robert Jay Lifton
Info:Basic Books (2000), Paperback, 576 pages

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The Nazi Doctors: Medical Killing and the Psychology of Genocide by Robert Jay Lifton (1986)



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This is a new take on the Holocaust. The thesis is that the policy of the "final solution" was evolutionary, growing out of prior programs, such as euthanasia. A haunting phrase is used to describe Jews (and other subhumans): "Life Unworthy of Life." Lifton's point is that from the very beginning--forced sterilizations--physicians were the point people for every subsequent escalation of death, culminating in Auschwitz. The author provides context and research gathered from multiple sources, including interviews with survivors and SS doctors. The role of Jewish and Polish doctors is examined as well. Nazi doctors believed that the Fuhrer oath supplanted the Hippocratic oath; their patient was deemed to be the German volk, rather than individuals. Given that mindset, it made selections at the death campus (conducted almost exclusively by physcians) an acceptable activity. Lifton notes the reversal of reality: from healing people to killing them. His perceptive psychological profiles of people like Mengele are alone worth the price of admission. The medical dimension of the Holocaust seems to be central to the entire Nazi effort to exterminate the Jews. Doctors were the ones, for example, who supervised the delivery of Zyklon B pellets into the showers. Lifton has done history a major service by plumbing this heretofore under-appreciated aspect of Holocaust studies. The last section is devoted to a rather difficult examination of links between psychology and genocide. I couldn't get through that, and it seemed too specialized for someone more interested in history. ( )
  neddludd | Jun 11, 2013 |
Wonderfully written and well informing. ( )
  AxelleDarkleigh | Sep 16, 2010 |
This book makes very sad reading ( )
  GlenRalph | Jul 19, 2009 |
This is a very frightening book about how ordinary people end up doing horrific things. If you think you could never be involved in an atrocity, I recommend reading this book and finding out just how hard it is to avoid given certain coercive circumstances. ( )
  aulsmith | Feb 7, 2008 |
It is not commonly appreciated that doctors were instrumental in the Shoah; the Nazis were terrorists who perverted the medical professional as they did every apparatus of a modern industrial state. The psychological phenomenon of "splitting" played a key role in the psychology of genocide; it enabled people to commit the horrors they did as a part of their job.
  kencf0618 | Sep 26, 2005 |
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0465049052, Paperback)

A brilliant analysis and history of the crucial role that German doctors played in Nazi genocide.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:00:31 -0400)

(see all 2 descriptions)

An analysis of the psychological forces behind the transformation of Nazi doctors into mass murderers in Auschwitz and other "death camps."

(summary from another edition)

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