Tearing Babies in Half

‘Pre-empting the Holocaust’

by Lawrence L. Lange



Recently I watched the testimony of a survior of the Kovno ghetto, in Lithuania. He spoke of the so-called Kinderaktion, in which the Germans rounded up all the children (and many of the elderly) and took them to the nearby Ninth Fort — a killing site outside Kovno — for execution. The witness was present in the room when an SS man entered and demanded from a mother the one-year-old infant she was holding in her arms. She refused to surrender it, so he seized the baby by its ankles and tore the body in two before the mother’s eyes.


A doctor at Mauthausen, in training to serve at the front as a physician with an SS unit, liked to amputate the arms or legs of Jews to see how long it would take them to bleed to death. After all, this would be useful medical information for his subsequent military career. Once, when he was not thus professionally engaged, showing admirable initiative because he clearly was not ordered to do this, he took two young Jews from an arriving transport, killed them, cut off their heads, and boiled the flesh off the skulls, which he used as desk trophies for himself and a colleague. After the war he married another doctor and together they set up a gynecological practice in Germany.

The Atlantic Monthly

“Pre-empting the Holocaust”

November 1998

page 105

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