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Chapter XXIII: The Psychological Interpretation of Culture and History

Killing Bacteria
Richard A. Koenigsberg
A manual by Rudolf Ramm (Lifton, 2017) proposed that doctors become "physicians to the Volk" and "alert biological soldiers" living under the great idea of the "National Socialist biological state structure."

According to this manual, National Socialism was in "accord with the biology of man." Rudolf Hess claimed that National Socialism was "nothing but applied biology."

What does it mean to say that National Socialism—politics—is applied biology? The idea of the nation as a body possessing an immune system lay at the heart of Nazi extermination policies. Unfit people, the mentally ill, homosexuals, Gypsies—and particularly Jews—were conceived as if defective or diseased cells within the body politic, incapable of contributing to the health of the national organism. The mission of National Socialism to eliminate dangerous or unproductive cells.

What an extraordinary fantasy! That the entire nation is a body, people are cells in this body, and it is possible remove or eliminate “not self” cells. How astonishing that the Nazis put this fantasy into practice. What a bizarre world they created—based on this fantasy.

From the beginning, the Nazi project had been racial purification: cleansing the national bloodstream through the elimination of unhealthy and foreign cells. The Final Solution was the last, frenetic effort to destroy disease-creating pathogens—to prevent the incipient death of the nation. If only the Jews could be killed quickly enough, the nation would survive. If there were no Jews in the world, Germany could win the war.

The death camps were an institution—a form of culture. The vast network of camps created by the Nazis is an example of the social construction of reality. This reality was constructed based on the fantasy of the nation as a body containing dangerous microorganisms that had to be destroyed. The death camps were Germany’s immune system: capable of identifying and destroying foreign or alien organisms within the body politic.

According to immunologists (see Emily Martin (1990), every cell in the body is equipped with “proof of identity”—a special arrangement of protein molecules on the exterior of the cell. These protein molecules constitute identity papers, protecting the cell against the body’s own police force, the immune system. The body's police corps is programmed to distinguish between bona fide residents and illegal aliens—an ability fundamental to the body's powers of self-defense.

What happens to “illegal aliens” (not-self cells) when they are detected? They are "executed" in a "death cell.” When the walls have closed around the enemy, the execution—phagocytosis—takes place. “The prisoner is showered with hydrogen peroxide or other deadly toxins. Digestive enzymes are sent into the death chamber to dissolve the bacterium."

Ronald Glasser (1976) describes the final phase of the attack of the white blood cells:

Once a killer T lymphocyte couples to the surface of an infected cell, its own internal protein cell-killing machinery turns on. The coupling with the infected cell is the chemical switch that transforms the T cell into a killer cell. Chemicals are produced; compounds begin to be made within the lymphocyte that diffuse out of these killer cells like poison gas out of a canister, entering the infected cell, killing the virus, stopping the viral spread, giving our body the chance to regenerate itself.
Chemical compounds “diffuse out of killer cells like poison gas out of a canister,” destroying the virus and stopping the viral spread—so that the nation might live.