The Nazi Doctors: Medical Killing and the Psychology of Genocide. Robert Jay Lifton. Basic Books, New York, 1986. 576 pp. $19.95.

The extermination of six million European Jews during World War II was the greatest organized genocide ever perpetrated. The people who committed this crime against humanity included members of the German medical profession.

The Nazi Doctors, the long-awaited book by Robert Lifton, a distinguished professor at the Graduate Center of the City University of New York, is an extraordinary volume that sheds new light on the role of the Nazi doctors in Hitler's Germany. It describes their transformation from healers to killers.

The author regards most of the doctors he interviewed as being average, neither brilliant nor stupid. How then can we understand the involvement of physicians in the Nazi killing machine?

The subversion of the ethical physician and the violation of the Hippocratic oath contrast with...

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