Healing By Killing

  • 1998
  • Movie
  • NR
  • Documentary

This fascinating and eye-opening documentary traces the crucial link between 20th-century German medicine, psychiatry and the Holocaust. It doesn't make the genocide any more comprehensible, but it goes a long way towards explaining just how such a thing could have happened. Nitzan Aviram's film is largely based on Robert Jay Lifton's book Nazi Doctors:...read more

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Reviewed by Ken Fox
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This fascinating and eye-opening documentary traces the crucial link between 20th-century German medicine, psychiatry and the Holocaust. It doesn't make the genocide any more comprehensible, but it goes a long way towards explaining just how such a thing could

have happened. Nitzan Aviram's film is largely based on Robert Jay Lifton's book Nazi Doctors: Medical Killing and the Psychology of Genocide, in which he examined the ways in which German medical discourse of the 1920s and '30s helped pave the way for the Final Solution. By figuring the

German state as a collective, unified body, it became conceivable to heal by killing, treating the sick volk by first sterilizing, then euthanatizing all those "lives unworthy of life": infants with birth defects, physically challenged children and mentally ill adults. "Death centers" begin

to appear at psychiatric facilities as a host of ethical lines are systematically crossed and the definition of "unfit" grows ever larger, Auschwitz becomes horrifyingly inevitable. Aviram traces the careers of two notorious Nazi doctors -- Dr. Irmfried Eberl, the Austrian physician who helped

bring euthanasia to sanitariums and gas chambers to death camps, and Dr. Carl Clauberg, a gynecologist who used Auschwitz's female population for his own sterilization experiments -- and intercuts them with the shattering testimonies of witnesses and survivors. But it's the brief interviews with

modern-day German medical students which provide this deeply disturbing film with one of its most chilling moments: Asked whether they see any need for a course in medical ethics as part of their curriculum, they unanimously reply no. Such a response by students whose medical careers will

inevitably bring them face to face with issues involving abortion, mercy-killing and genetic engineering brings crashing home the unthinkable possibility of history repeating itself.

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  • Released: 1998
  • Rating: NR
  • Review: This fascinating and eye-opening documentary traces the crucial link between 20th-century German medicine, psychiatry and the Holocaust. It doesn't make the genocide any more comprehensible, but it goes a long way towards explaining just how such a thing c… (more)

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