Sunday, 6 July 2008

The Auschwitz album

[...] Several people at the museum told me that the strangest thing about the album for them is that a person can look again and again at the images and never find an answer to the question, 'How could you have done what you did?' One thing that is particularly troubling is the presence of so many doctors and the pseudo-scientific legitimacy that their participation lent to the selection process. I showed the album to Robert Jay Lifton, the psychiatrist and author of The Nazi Doctors (1986). Alcohol, Lifton told me, is what made it possible for many of the doctors to persevere when killing was substituted for the imperative to heal, or at least to do no harm. 'What the doctors found there was overwhelming,' he said, 'even to Nazis who had seen things before. It was staggering. The doctors would have symptoms like post-traumatic symptoms; they would have bad dreams, they would be upset, sometimes they would say, "We shouldn't be part of this," but they would often say this while drinking.' Read more
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