Saturday, July 20, 2013

Auschwitz

by Miklos Nyiszli

On the face of it, Auschwitz is just another Nazi concentration camp story telling of the horrors, torture and massacre of thousands of innocent Jews. The thing that sets this book apart is the perspective from which it is told. Miklos Nyiszli was not only taken captive as a Jew, he was selected from among the prisoners because of his skills to serve among an "elite" group of commanders whose job was to assist Dr. Joseph Mengle in performing autopsies for Mengele's human research experiments.

Although the Sonderkommando were given certain authority and privileges beyond other prisoners, they were also informed of the mass executions of their fellow captives and were aware of their own impending death. These groups were routinely replaced every 3-4 months. Dr. Nyiszli was a special favorite of Mengele and therefore was spared death on a number of occasions.

Nyiszli raises an interesting question in his reflection: Why would thousands of men, women and children walk willingly to their deaths? Why was there no uprising against the Nazi guards when these people were being led into gas chambers? Even though the prisoners weren't told they were going to die, they had all seen the same thing happen to other groups of inmates, so subconsciously they knew their fate. Nyiszli believed that any resistance among the prisoners would have impaired the Nazi's, even if only temporarily. But of the 13 Sonderkommando units that were led to their death, only one put up a fight.

If you like reading these type books, you'll like this account. If you've never read books written about concentration camps, this is a good version that is a quick read. 

1 comment:

  1. I think I'll read this one. Thanks for recommending.

    ReplyDelete