Author: Laurence Rees
Publisher: Public Affairs (in USA); BBC Books (in UK)
Genre: Non-fiction, World War II History
Reviewed by Michiel Korsmit (my husband)
Great book for everybody interested in the Nazi’s “final solution of the Jewish question.”
The book Auschwitz covers a lot more than the title implies. It gives a deep insight into how the Nazis handled their Jewish question, as well as the treatment of Gypsies, Russian POW’s and other not-wanted or low-life considered populations.
It describes how the Nazis’ top leaders developed their strategy from Jewish emigration in the 1930’s, to forced slavery and extermination in the 1940’s. Also, it tells how the Jewish populations in several European countries were treated by their governments and fellow countrymen. From the heroic Danish population who managed to save almost their entire Jewish community, to the sell-out of the Jews by the Hungarians and Slovaks.
But of course the main line in the book is Auschwitz – how this concentration camp started as a regular Nazi concentration camp for Polish political prisoners, where, of course a lot of brutality and killing occurred, but in the early stages Auschwitz wasn’t anywhere near as notorious as other Nazi concentration camps. However, under leadership from Auschwitz camp commander Rudolf Höss, Auschwitz would through the years develop into the factory of death for which it is now famous.
The book has a lot of interviews with people who were both imprisoned in Auschwitz, as well as with Nazis who “worked” at the camp. The focus on the human aspect of this book makes it an easy read. Since the book is so complete, I can recommend this book to everyone with an interest in this part of history.