Robert J. Lifton: Nazi Doctors

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Robert Jay Lifton: renowned psychiatrist, author, founding member of International Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear War, expert on Nazi doctors. Lifton's 1986 groundbreaking book, "The Nazi Doctors: Medical Killing and the Psychology of Genocide," is at the heart of this visit with one of the world's leading thinkers on medical ethics. Lifton describes the process by which he researched and interviewed dozens of doctors who served in Auschwitz ("doctors were at the heart of it"), the circumstances under which they were currently living (financially affluent, some still practicing), and their attitude toward him (nervous, "unctuous"). With measured words and carefully calibrated analysis, he leads us through the "acculturation to killing" that the camps fostered, the process of "splitting" or "doubling" which allowed doctors to strike a Faustian bargain, and his belief that "any one of us might find ourselves in service to evil." This is a fascinating, compelling, profoundly disturbing movie that miraculously leaves one agreeing with Lifton that "there is room for hope." -- (C) Film Forum

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