Sunday, March 25, 2012

Geoffrey Campbell Cocks's "The State of Health"

Geoffrey Campbell Cocks is the author of Psychotherapy in the Third Reich (1985, 1997), Treating Mind and Body (1998), and The Wolf at the Door (2004) which was a TLS 'International Book of the Year' in 2004. He is the editor of Psycho/History (with Travis Crosby, 1987), German Professions, 1800-1950 (with Konrad Jarausch, 1990), The Curve of Life (1994), Medicine and Modernity (with Manfred Berg, 1997), and Depth of Field (with James Diedrick and Glenn Perusek, 2006).

He applied the “Page 99 Test” to his new book, The State of Health: Illness in Nazi Germany, and reported the following:
Page 99 of The State of Health comes in Chapter 4, “The State of Health,” which concerns itself with policy, practice, experience, and discourse surrounding and penetrating health and illness during the six years of Nazi peace from 1933 to 1939. Page 99 also falls within the last section of Chapter 4, “The Picture of Health,” which focuses on official and popular discourse regarding physicians, medicine, health, and illness in the new Reich.

At the top of the page Albert Speer is being treated for various ailments by an SS doctor whom he does not trust due to Speer’s rivalry with SS Chief Himmler. Speer later observed that “in Hitler’s Germany ... it was not advisable for a Minister to get ill. First of all, nobody believed it. Because if Hitler, who hated sacking people, did fire one of his higher officials, it was invariably attributed to ‘ill health’. The paradoxical result was that if you were really ill, you had to pretend to be well in order to avoid rumors of impending dismissal.”

Speer’s experience demonstrates not only was illness a factor in politics but was also weapon of politics. This was true up and down the political food chain in Nazi Germany. One journalist thrown into a concentration camp in 1933 aroused an international campaign of concern. The Nazi response was to transfer him to a hospital in 1936, where two years later he died “more quietly.” In contrast, the Nazi regime was constrained to hide the fact of hospitalization in the case of the daughter of Foreign Minister von Ribbentrop. The regime was concerned that the arrogant, bumbling Ribbentrop not be seen to be “weakened”—a particularly sensitive issue for Nazis. And there was further embarrassment in store. In 1937 two Jewish newspapers in Vienna reported that the daughter had been sent to Amsterdam where her sight was saved by an √©migr√© Jewish brain surgeon from Poland.
Learn more about The State of Health at the Oxford University Press website.

--Marshal Zeringue