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 1, 1994

ISBN: 0-253-32684-2

Page Count: 528

Publisher: Indiana Univ.

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 1994

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The author's youthfulness helps to assure the inevitable comparison with the Anne Frank diary although over and above the...


Elie Wiesel spent his early years in a small Transylvanian town as one of four children. 

He was the only one of the family to survive what Francois Maurois, in his introduction, calls the "human holocaust" of the persecution of the Jews, which began with the restrictions, the singularization of the yellow star, the enclosure within the ghetto, and went on to the mass deportations to the ovens of Auschwitz and Buchenwald. There are unforgettable and horrifying scenes here in this spare and sombre memoir of this experience of the hanging of a child, of his first farewell with his father who leaves him an inheritance of a knife and a spoon, and of his last goodbye at Buchenwald his father's corpse is already cold let alone the long months of survival under unconscionable conditions. 

The author's youthfulness helps to assure the inevitable comparison with the Anne Frank diary although over and above the sphere of suffering shared, and in this case extended to the death march itself, there is no spiritual or emotional legacy here to offset any reader reluctance.

Pub Date: Jan. 16, 2006

ISBN: 0374500010

Page Count: 120

Publisher: Hill & Wang

Review Posted Online: Oct. 7, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2006

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For Howard Zinn, long-time civil rights and anti-war activist, history and ideology have a lot in common. Since he thinks that everything is in someone's interest, the historian—Zinn posits—has to figure out whose interests he or she is defining/defending/reconstructing (hence one of his previous books, The Politics of History). Zinn has no doubts about where he stands in this "people's history": "it is a history disrespectful of governments and respectful of people's movements of resistance." So what we get here, instead of the usual survey of wars, presidents, and institutions, is a survey of the usual rebellions, strikes, and protest movements. Zinn starts out by depicting the arrival of Columbus in North America from the standpoint of the Indians (which amounts to their standpoint as constructed from the observations of the Europeans); and, after easily establishing the cultural disharmony that ensued, he goes on to the importation of slaves into the colonies. Add the laborers and indentured servants that followed, plus women and later immigrants, and you have Zinn's amorphous constituency. To hear Zinn tell it, all anyone did in America at any time was to oppress or be oppressed; and so he obscures as much as his hated mainstream historical foes do—only in Zinn's case there is that absurd presumption that virtually everything that came to pass was the work of ruling-class planning: this amounts to one great indictment for conspiracy. Despite surface similarities, this is not a social history, since we get no sense of the fabric of life. Instead of negating the one-sided histories he detests, Zinn has merely reversed the image; the distortion remains.

Pub Date: Jan. 1, 1979

ISBN: 0061965588

Page Count: 772

Publisher: Harper & Row

Review Posted Online: May 26, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 1979

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