ANATOMY OF THE AUSCHWITZ DEATH CAMP by Yisrael Gutman

ANATOMY OF THE AUSCHWITZ DEATH CAMP

KIRKUS REVIEW

 An immensely wide and deep collection of reports on the infrastructure, operation, population, and history of the Auschwitz death-camp complex. Contributions by 27 contributors from several countries are compiled for this publication of the new US Holocaust Memorial Museum's Research Institute. (Berenbaum is director of the Research Institute; Gutman is professor of Jewish history at Hebrew University and director of the Research Center at Yad Vashem.) This anthology is a companion volume to Auschwitz: A History in Photographs (1993) in association with the Auschwitz-Birkenau State Museum in Poland. The contributors range from Polish scholars able for the first time to access archives in former Communist countries to established WW II historians like Martin Gilbert. Because Auschwitz was a concentration camp, a death camp, and a forced- labor camp, the Nazi's largest such complex, it warrants the comprehensive and multidimensional treatment it gets here. The first two parts offer an overview of the physical operation of the camp, with a statistical study concluding that 1.5 million victims perished there (90% of these being Jews). Among the essays here is one by Jean-Claude Pressac, the Frenchman who has done groundbreaking research into the construction and operation of Auschwitz. Parts III and IV examine perpetrators of the atrocities, from managers like Rudolf Hess to doctors like Josef Mengele, and their inmate victims (broken down by ethnicity, gender, age and health). We read from a psychologist how inmates were broken and turned into ``automatons, obeying orders without thinking.'' It is all the more remarkable that any resistance occurred in Auschwitz, such as the revolt of October 7, 1944, when crematorium IV was blown up and inmates ``managed to overpower the German kapo and throw him, still alive, into one of the ovens.'' Examinations of what the world knew about the complex, why Auschwitz wasn't bombed, and select literature of the camp rounds out the collection. These thoroughly researched and annotated reports add up to a one-volume study of Auschwitz without peer in Holocaust literature.

Pub Date: June 1st, 1994
ISBN: 0-253-32684-2
Page count: 528pp
Publisher: Indiana Univ.
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15th, 1994




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