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edited by David A. Hackett & translated by David A. Hackett

Pub Date: April 11th, 1995
ISBN: 0-8133-1777-0

 An invaluable report by US Army personnel assembled immediately after liberation of the Buchenwald concentration camp. This vast project, undertaken by German-speaking members of the Army's Psychological Warfare Division, somehow lay unpublished for 50 years. One faded carbon copy turned up, allowing Hackett (History/Univ. of Texas, El Paso) the opportunity to translate and edit the Army interview team's findings and testimonies. Part I, the main report, is a formal presentation of the camp's history, organization, operation, inmate population and treatment; some of the most incriminating data is from Buchenwald's own administrative files. The second part consists of individual reports, imprecise but impressive, written by some of the more lucid of the 21,000 survivors. Because the reportage is the work of soldiers rather than journalists, some revealing opinions slip through: The skeletal survivors, one report candidly notes, ``are brutalized, unpleasant to look on. It is easy to adopt the Nazi theory that [the victims] are subhuman, for many have in fact been deprived of their humanity.'' While much of the recorded mass murder involves Jews from a half dozen nations, there is documentation here of the mistreatment of homosexuals, gypsies, Jehovah's Witnesses, Allied prisoners of war, and anti-fascists. More moving than the lists of victims are the detailed descriptions of elaborate tortures of individuals: One gypsy was placed in a tiny wooden crate with driven nails to meet his slightest movement, while Jewish laborers were forced to bury two of their colleagues alive. Significant chapters cover medical experimentation on humans, the treatment of children, the record of resistance and sabotage, and the poswar trials of key Nazis who operated in Buchenwald. This is an essential document of WW II and Holocaust history. (maps, not seen) (Book-of-the-Month Club selection; History Book Club featured selection)