Through a selection of primary and secondary sources, Death by Design examines the uses of technology during the Holocaust and the specific ways in which scientists, architects, medical professionals, businessmen, and engineers participated in the planning and operation of the concentration and extermination camps that were the foundation of the “final solution.” The book discusses the overriding intellectual, ethical, and philosophical implications of the Nazi's use of science and technology in their killing operations.
List of Abbreviations
A Brief Historical Background
A Brief Summary of the Readings
Section I: Details of the Killing Operations
1. The Killing Process at Auschwitz-Birkenau
From Auschwitz: A Doctor's Eyewitness Account
Nyiszli, a Hungarian Jewish doctor employed by the infamous Nazi doctor of Auschwitz, Joseph Menegle, describes the step-by-step killing procedure of the gas chambers and crematoria at the Auschwitz-Birkenau death camp.
2. Design and Development of the Gas Chambers and Crematoria in Auschwitz
“Gas Chambers and Crematoria”
Piper presents a detailed history of the five gas chamber and crematoria complexes, and the provisional temporary gas chambers, that were built and operated at Auschwitz-Birkenau from 1941 through the end of 1944.
3. Engineering Mass Murder at Auschwitz
Jean-Claude Pressac with Robert-Jan Van Pelt.
From “The Machinery of Mass Murder at Auschwitz”
Using the latest source material recently acquired after the fall of the Soviet Union, Pressac and van Pelt provide a history of the engineering firms that were involved with the SS in the design and construction of the gas chambers and crematoria at Auschwitz-Birkenau.
Section II: Technology, Management Policy, and Politics: General Issues
4. Technology and Politics in Totalitarian Regimes: Nazi Germany
From Totalitarian Science and Technology
Josephson presents an overview of the relationship between technology and political power in Nazi Germany, showing how the Nazis used technology to advance the political ideology of the Third Reich, while banning technologies that seemed “Jewish” or ideologically suspect.
5. Nazi Ideology, Management, and Engineering Technology in the SS
Michael Thad Allen.
From The Business of Genocide: The SS, Slave Labor, and the Concentration Camps
Allen examines the ways in which Nazi ideology influenced management and engineering decisions in the industrial operations of the SS. By examining several SS managers and engineers, including Chief of Engineering Hans Kammler, he discusses the reasons why technological professionals aligned themselves with the evil aims of Nazism.
Section III: The Role of Architectural Design in Nazi Germany
6. Architectural Aesthetics and Political Ideology in Nazi Germany
“Architecture and the Destruction of the European Jews”
Art historian Jaskot focuses on the aesthetics of architecture as an example of the connection between political ideology and the development of technology in Nazi Germany.
7. Architecture and Technology in Nazi Germany: Memoirs
From Inside the Third Reich: Memoirs
In these excerpts from his memoirs, Speer, one of the highest ranking officials in Nazi Germany during the war, discusses his role as Hitler's architect, the role of technical professionals and engineers in the operations of the Third Reich, and the connection between his training as an architect and his service to the goals of Nazism.
8. Albert Speer: Ethics, Architecture, and Technology
Jack Sammons, Jr.
“Rebellious Ethics and Albert Speer”
Sammons considers the case of Albert Speer as an example of ethics in the technological professions, and he argues that Speer betrayed the highest ideals of his craft--architecture--in his work to further the aims of the Nazi regime.
Section IV: Medicine and Biology in Nazi Germany
9. Genetic and Racial Theories in the Nazi War on Cancer
Robert N. Proctor.
From The Nazi War on Cancer
Proctor discusses how Nazi ideas of biological and racial determinism influenced research and industrial policy regarding the causes and cures for cancer.
10. Medicalized Killing in the Nazi Death Camps
Robert J. Lifton.
From The Nazi Doctors: Medical Killing and the Psychology of Genocide
In several selections from his book on the Nazi medical establishment, Lifton shows how the medical metaphor of the Jews as a disease in the German nation became the guiding principle for killing all undesirables in the Third Reich. Medical professionals oversaw all the killing operations at Auschwitz, and used Jews (and other prisoners) as subjects in grotesque medical experiments.
Section V: Engineering, Technology, and Business
11. IBM in Nazi Germany
From IBM and the Holocaust: The Strategic Alliance Between Nazi Germany and America's Most Powerful Corporation
In an excerpt from his controversial book, Black discusses the history of IBM's cooperation with the Third Reich and how IBM provided sophisticated information-managing technologies that the Nazis used in the labor camps, population censuses, and the armaments industry.
12. The Crime of I.G. Farben: Slave Labor and Mass Murder in Nazi Germany
From The Crime and Punishment of I.G. Farben: The Unholy AllianceBetween Hitler and the Great Chemical Combine
Borkin examines the history of the giant petrochemical corporation I.G. Farben and its alliance with the SS in the building of a slave-labor factory on the grounds of Auschwitz and in the manufacture of the Zyklon B gas that was used in the gas chambers.
Section VI: Concluding Ethical Considerations
13. Technological Evil: Cultural Values in the Holocaust
“On the Neutrality of Technology: The Holocaust Death Camps as a Counter-example”
This chapter provides a philosophical overview of many of the case histories in earlier chapters, arguing that the development of the Nazi concentration camps is a clear example that technology is endowed with the values of the culture that produced it.
For Further Reading