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Thread: The Jew Lifton on Ernst Rdin & Hans F. K. Gnther

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    Post The Jew Lifton on Ernst Rdin & Hans F. K. Gnther

    The below excerpt is from R. J. Lifton’s book The Nazi Doctors: Medical Killing and the Psychology of Genocide and concerns primarily the N.S.D.A.P. geneticist Ernst Rdin as well as Hans F. K. Gnther. All emboldenings and underlingings are by me. Lifton is evidently ‘jewish,’ ( ), so that should clue you in on where he’s coming from.

    <Fanatical Genetics: The Role of Ernst Rdin

    The predominant medical presence in the Nazi sterilization program was Dr. Ernst Rdin, a Swiss-born psychiatrist of international renown. Originally a student of Emil Kraepelin, the great classical psychiatrist, Rdin became a close associate of Alfred Ploetz in establishing the German Society for Racial Hygiene. Rdin was an indefatigable researcher and saw as his mission the application of Mendelian laws and eugenic principles to psychiatry. A former student and associate of his told me that "the aim of his life" was to establish the genetic basis for psychiatric conditions, and that "he was not so much a fanatical Nazi as a fanatical geneticist."

    But a Nazi Rdin did become, joining the Party in 1937 at the age of sixty. From his prestigious position as director of the Research Institute for Psychiatry of the Kaiser Wilhelm Society in Munich, Rdin worked closely with a regime whose commitment to genetic principles he applauded, and was one of the principle architects of the sterilization laws. He became a significant source of scientific legitimation for the regime's racial policies (including consultations with Hans F. K. Gnther, the leading Nazi anthropologist-publicist on racial matters, whose intellectual repute was generally held to be very low). Rdin was not involved in the direct medical killing of the "euthanasia" program; but a younger associate to whom I spoke had the impression that his teacher, though not without doubts about the program, could well have favored a version of it with careful medical control.

    In a special 1943 issue of his journal, Archive fr Rassen-und Gesellschaftsbiologie (Archive of Racial and Social Biology), celebrating ten years of National Socialist rule, Rdin extolled Hitler and the movement for its "decisive…path-breaking step toward making racial hygiene a fact among the German people…and inhibiting the propagation of the congenitally ill and inferior." He praised both the Nuremberg Laws for "preventing the further penetration of the German gene pool by Jewish blood," and the SS for "its ultimate goal, the creation of a special group of medically superior and healthy people of the German Nordic type."21

    A close relative, also a physician, told me that Rdin felt it "necessary" to write those things and, in response to my question whether he had meant them at the time, answered, "Well, half and half." While Rdin apparently did eventually become disillusioned with the regime, he could never (according to a former colleague) bring himself to resign his positions but sought always to work from within.*

    No one I spoke to thought Rdin a cruel person; to the contrary, he was seen as decent and dedicated to his work. Yet he not only served the regime but, in his person and scientific reputation, did much to effect the medicalization of racial policies—not quite those of killing but of suppressing in specific groups the continuity of life. He also demonstrates, in extreme form, the attraction of the Nazi biomedical vision for a certain kind of biologically and genetically oriented scientist.

    * Rdin's defenders later claimed that he contested the "euthanasia" program from within. This is unlikely, as efforts in 1940 of two psychologists to enlist Rdin, and through him the German Psychiatric Society, for opposition to the killing met with no success (see pages 88-89), Rdin received two high awards from Hitler as the "pathfinder in the field of hereditary hygiene."22>

    Citation: Robert Jay Lifton, The Nazi Doctors: Medical Killing and the Psychology of Genocide (? U.S.A.: Basic Books, 1986), pp. 27-9.

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    Post Re: The 'Jew' Lifton On the 'Nazi' Ernst Rdin & H.F.K. Gnther

    Thank you for the article.

    Rdin was a student of Emil Kraepelin. Do you know if Kraepelin was Jewish ?

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