Writing a book is the revenge of the intellectual said prominent American psychiatrist and distinguished professor Robert Jay Lifton smiling knowingly during yesterday’s premier of the documentary film “Killing Jews for German Health”.
In the heart of Germany’s financial empire in Frankfurt/Main on famous Berger street, Mr. Lifton explained how it was the collective consciousness of a people that allowed Nazi atrocities. The perpetrators did not even need orders and commands. They were part of a whole machinery. A “mythical health movement” could be found at the heart of the Nazis’ terror regime. A movement which shows significant comparabilities to shamanism.
Lifton explains the perpetrators were not some individuals who could have been isolated and punished. Things which were embedded deep in the psyche of people, beliefs and ideology, made possible the incredible scale of the horrendous killings. People were led by the belief to fight for a good cause: To bring health to Germans.
In the documentary Jewish psycho-historian Lifton, describes how normal physicians changed from healers into killers. In the late 70s the Jewish scientist visited 80 Auschwitz survivors as well as 40 holocaust perpetrators, mainly former Nazi doctors. The result is his book “The Nazi doctors”, the first and only in depth psychological analysis about doctors in Nazi-Germany and their contribution in eliminating Jews. He then became a founding member of the International Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear War, which was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1985.
When we left the cinema my sister and I felt deeply moved by the shocking truth of the events conveyed and the pictures of psychological abysm formed. The enmeshment of the medical system in the holocaust and especially all political act of violence till today hit home. We clearly should take much closer a look on the question of ethics and moral also in modern medicine.