A very good and discerning answer, John...I admit that I had not conseidered that....but not enough to account for the massive numbers we're discussing, surely ?
Phil: This is the first full quote that I have done for a couple or more years. The reasons for my requoting are both simple and complex. Simply put basic human nature will act to preserve one's self, one's community, one's friends or comrades. Admittedly such subterfuges might seem ridiculous on the hundreds of thousands scale but then we are not talking of hundreds of thousands are we? We are referring to something between 50,000 or so upwards of 150,000 at most. Clearly not all doctors participated in doing such wilfull misdiagnoses and nor can it be said did all or most soldiers knowingly attempt or actually malinger. The situation in the German army of WW2 as referred to is quite well known and not refuted by any post-1945 writer medical or otherwise as far as I know. Other factors beside 'heimat' or homesickness, family reunification in wartime and the like would have played a part in such misdiagnoses. Long running "quiet sectors" (much of the front for extended periods of time), overconfidence on the German troops on the Eastern Front with overreliance on their firepower stopping any real Russian assault thereby inducing infantry and general field commanders to part with troops as not essential in the short term, a natural sympathy and regard for troops going home or back so that news, eyewitness testimonials, special foods and luxuries might be brought back to the front lines are just some of the extra inducements for German military medical personnel to facilitate such practices.
Complex reasons deal more with the subtle nuances of both military practices as actually undertaken on the Eastern Front especially on the German sectors. Unfortunately, in April 1945 many know what happened to the German miltiary archives at Potsdam. War diaries, unit histories and accounts, reports, ....gone. We will never know unlike other theaters of war for many units and in general what presumably actually happened as normal routine due to the dearth of archival records overall. The irony of course is that after 1991 we now have in theory, access to voluminuous records in Polish, Hungarian, Czech, Slovak, Bulgarian, Rumanian and especially Russian. Moreover, military medical history is usually not a favourite topic of the vast majority of military historians as being too logistical, soft or tangential to their primary interests of combat history or strategy and tactical studies.
Oh well, again we can always hope that some grad students and/or profs take an interest in the newly opened up central Eastern European archives and produce some great stuff.