Excerpt from AUSCHWITZ: A NEW HISTORY by Laurence Rees
(US Printing 2005), Page 176 – 177
“The close links between the Nazis’ adult euthanasia program–which originated in the autumn of 1939 — and the staff of the Operation Reinhard death camps were described earlier. Those pioneers of the death camps, Wirth and Stangl, both began their careers in killing by helping to murder the disabled. But what is important to note here is the fact that the selection process for the adult euthanasia program was controlled by doctors, not by police — a practice that was perpetuated in Auschwitz. This intimate link was the necessary consequence of a pre-history of killing that elevated the removal of what the Nazis called “life unworthy of life”
(“lebensunwertes Leben”) to the highest duty of medicine. It was this perverse logic that made it unsurprising to the killers that a medical practitioner, Dr. Eberl, could become the commandant of the death camp of Treblinka.
By the time Eberl took up his job at Treblinka this concept of “life unworthy of life” had, of course, been extended from the mentally and physically disabled to the Jews. In attempting to justify the killing, of the Jews, the SS doctors fell back on the early Nazi propaganda lie of the Jews as a corrupting influence on the body politic. “Of course I am a doctor and I want to preserve life,” said Dr. Fritz Klein, one Nazi doctor. “Out of respect for human life, I would remove a gangrenous appendix from a diseased body. The Jew is the gangrenous appendix in the body of mankind.”
From the purist Nazi point of view, therefore, Auschwitz and the other death camps were an excuse in health management –facilitating the removal of people who were a burden or threat to the well-being of the state.”