Psychiatrists – The Men Behind Hitler

The Architects of Horror

Dr. Thomas Röder, Volker Kubillus, Anthony Burwell

reviewed by Mira de Vries

The Men Behind Hitler first appeared in German. Thankfully, it was translated into English by Rolf and Sybil Rentmeister, whose names deserve to be mentioned considering the excellent quality of the translation.

Like other historians writing on this subject around the middle of the previous decade, the authors explode the myth that the quest for racial purity started with Hitler. But they go one step farther, and also explode the myth that it ended with Hitler. “Eugenics” is still alive and well, particularly in North America and Europe. The name, of course, has been changed, but the idea behind it remains.

In the period leading up to Hitler’s rise to power, Germany was the Mecca of psychiatry. Students from all over the world came to learn at the feet of the professors who would become kingpins in third reich atrocities. Some of those king pins were later executed, several more committed suicide. Most not only escaped punishment, often protected from prosecution by U.S. psychiatrists, but continued their careers undisturbed. Furthermore, their students from across the world carried their teachings back to their own countries already before The Holocaust, and continue to do so to this very day. The mass murderers and their supporters are still considered authorities, and their works are widely quoted in current psychiatric professional literature. As though that weren’t bad enough, after WWII psychiatrists in the U.S. lobbied to bring nazi psychiatrists to America so that their “knowledge” wouldn’t be lost. These psychiatrists were responsible for, among other things, LSD experiments on unwitting prisoners.

In fact, the authors ascribe the origin of the drug culture which permeates developed societies to psychiatry. LSD, heroin, cocaine, and amphetamines were all first introduced by psychiatry, but leaked out into the general population, contributing to the violence of our societies.

Also interesting is the psychiatric connection to the war in the former Yugoslavia.

One surprising claim made by the authors is that by the fall of the third reich, over two million people had been compulsorily sterilized. Other historians place this figure at 400,000, most of those people later having been mass murdered. The authors provide no source for their figure, even though their book is otherwise well-researched. This probable exaggeration casts an undeserved shadow of incredibility over the rest of it.

Rather than dwelling on the details of the horrors, the authors repeatedly point to the source of psychiatric power: the state. Whether in the third reich, in the US, or in Bosnia, psychiatrists have always courted powerful politicians, permeated the military, and lobbied government.

Most unfortunate is that at least one of the book’s authors is identified as head of the Citizens’ Commission on Human Rights in Hamburg, and publication of the book was funded by the International Association of Scientologists. There is no reference at all to Scientology in the body of the book. The connection to Scientology no doubt keeps this excellent book off of academic library shelves and prevents its important message from receiving the attention it should.

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