Blog Tour Guest Post: The Dark Heart of Dr Binding by #Cull author Tanvir Bush @annecater #RandomThings Tours


Categorized as one of the disabled, dole-scrounging underclass, she is finding it hard to make ends meet. When in her part-time placement at the local newspaper she stumbles onto a troubling link between the disappearance of several homeless people, the government's new Care and Protect Act, and the Grassybanks Residential Home for the disabled, elderly and vulnerable, she knows she has to investigate further... but at what cost to herself and her guide dog Chris?

Guest Post:

The Dark Heart of Dr Binding

The Secret to the Uneasy Feeling You May Get Reading CULL

Monsters exist, but they are too few in numbers to be truly dangerous. More dangerous are…the functionaries ready to believe and act without asking questions. Primo Levi

In 2013 I overheard Iain Duncan Smith on the radio talking about people like me. i.e. disabled, and then unemployed, as ‘economically unviable’. I stopped in my tracks. I had heard that phrase before…where? And then I remembered and I shivered. . In 1930’s Germany the Nazi’s, under a certain Dr Brandt, who had first sterilized and then murdered thousands of children and adults under their T-4 Aktion Plan and it had all happened in plain sight. Disabled children and then adults were rounded up and ‘euthanized’ under the public gaze. Buses collected local people deemed ‘unfit’ – often by their own GPs or family members- and took them to nearby institutions, killing and cremating them on site. Villagers and townspeople could see the smoke from the chimneys and yet there was almost no public reaction or outrage for several years. The inaction was in part due to the exceedingly careful and divisive propaganda used by the Nazi press. In the propaganda, people like me were called ‘useless eaters’. (photo) That is another way of saying ;economically unviable’ by the way.

There it was! I began comparing the propaganda in the lead up to Aktion T-4 Plan and the presentation of disability, the scrounging underclass, the ‘parasites’ of contemporary, austerity Britain. I wanted to address the dehumanising images and language I was seeing and hearing in the media and somehow confront the fear and anxiety that many disabled (and non-disabled) people were experiencing. Was this cruelty, stigma and mismanagement of benefits deliberate? Was this fear justified? And

if it was, how far exactly was this government prepared to go? I looked more closely at the dehumanising process of language and its ominous undertow and found a deeply unsettling and uncanny similarity.

How could I use this research? To allow my prose to flow, I decided to ensure I was steeped in the eye-witness accounts of T 4Aktion and the Nazi ‘functionaries’ I wanted to be able to shut my eyes and picture some of the men and women involved, walking, talking, making decisions. I needed to ‘meet’ them, ‘understand’ them, as far as was imaginatively possible. I mined the list of doctors, many distinguished practitioners, who had taken part in the Aktion T-4 Plan and had, in fact, been proactive in engineering and experimenting on the patients, concocting various ways to kill swiftly on the cheap

Dr Binding emerges:

What is it that makes a doctor allow killing or become a killer himself? I read through the transcripts of the Nuremburg trials and the testimony, in particular of the doctors and nurses who had undertaken to murder their patients. Some seemed unable to accept responsibility for their actions, many citing other figures of authority as the decision makers. Others were unrepentant.

I decided that the doctor in my novel would have the exemplary traits of an excellent medic. He would initially appear to be a man to rely on, to trust. Gradually though the slippage would occur. He would be highly idealistic, then full of pride and eventually it would be his arrogance which would cause his own self-blindness. I studied the real-life case of Dr Brandt, the man behind T4 Aktion a man who was perceived as an idealist.

He was a thoughtful man, an intellectual, and he took his responsibilities as a physician most seriously…He acknowledged his participation in Aktion T-4, made no apology for the program, and declared it to be justified - justified out of pity for the victim and out of a desire to free the family and loved ones from a lifetime of needless sacrifice. (Gallagher, 1990: 257b)

Dr Binding emerged into the world, and alongside him the characters of Nurse Dyer, Robin and of course, Andre; each complicit and each with their own misguided intentions

I knew that my Dr Binding would have been a phenomenal and wise medical man with an almost clairvoyant aptitude for diagnosis. He would be admired. Too much admired maybe, and like a few doctors I have known, he would be a very bad patient, unable to diagnose his own corruption, his own psychopathy.

This also helped me to fictionalise the weighty issue of euthanasia, allowed me to research the T-4 doctors’ methods of killing and from there, design my own, or should I say, my character Dr Binding’s, own, Chiller Bed:

Writing using this technique was not to test my readers’ historical knowledge. I gained personal confidence knowing I was reflecting aspects of ‘real’ people through my fiction and this confidence transferred to my work, giving me personal pleasure. Readers who got the connections might receive an additional jolt of recognition too, like finding a key clue to a crossword, a joke hidden within the text, but more than that I feel the dark truth underlying the fiction might ooze through,, creating unease…raising the hair at the back of the reader’s neck!

Let me know how it feels for you!

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