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Auschwitz A New History was filled with new facts and numerous interviews with survivors and former SS I liked the detailed interviews which spanned from Jewish people from numerous countries that turned them over to the Reich, gypsies, POWs, Jehovah s Witness, and other groups of people that in most books might have been passed over It obviously givesfacts about the atrocities that occurred at Auschwitz then the other camps, but all the camps are brought up throughout the book The inf Auschwitz A New History was filled with new facts and numerous interviews with survivors and former SS I liked the detailed interviews which spanned from Jewish people from numerous countries that turned them over to the Reich, gypsies, POWs, Jehovah s Witness, and other groups of people that in most books might have been passed over It obviously givesfacts about the atrocities that occurred at Auschwitz then the other camps, but all the camps are brought up throughout the book The information is, as in most Holocaust books, sad, shocking, and incredible When it comes to complex topics like the Holocaust, I think it s helpful to read from a number of sources And often, the best books are those that offer us something new, either by presenting a piece of the puzzle that was missing or perhaps adding additional perspective that affords us a new way of looking at an old piece, allowing us to better place it.I m not sure I can do a book like this justice in a review other than to say it was an excellent compliment to other readings I ve done to thi When it comes to complex topics like the Holocaust, I think it s helpful to read from a number of sources And often, the best books are those that offer us something new, either by presenting a piece of the puzzle that was missing or perhaps adding additional perspective that affords us a new way of looking at an old piece, allowing us to better place it.I m not sure I can do a book like this justice in a review other than to say it was an excellent compliment to other readings I ve done to this point.However, I can share some ideas either introduced or reinforced for me in the reading.1 First and foremost, the forces that drove the Holocaust aren t so different from the forces that caused other atrocities throughout the world s history and the Germans aren t the only ones who have something to apologize for.2 Hitler and his henchmen were likely a product of their environment The Germans weren t alone in their anti semantic policies and the Holocaust couldn t have taken place on the same scale without the complicity of other nations and tens of thousands of individuals who either cooperated with the lunacy willingly or through coercion or turned their heads the other way 3 The idea of a superior race was not exclusive to the Germans History is replete with examples of cultures who suffer from delusions of supremacy and seem to feel justified in efforts to segregate or save the world from the undesirables I think it s also relevant that at that time in history the idea of eugenics had gained the interest and support of the scientific community.4 The Final Solution evolved and had both ideological as well as practical implications 5 None of us really knows that monster that lives within us The what ifs are almost impossible to predict The idea that only innately evil bad people are capable of doing evil bad things is naive and simplistic Beliefs dictate our morality and thus draw the only lines in the sand that matter 6 The collective is a powerful motivator as it influences belief and as such can exert a huge influence over the limits we set for ourselves.7 Killing is easier to do from both a physical and psychological distance Ideologically, killing is easier when you can convince yourself that the person you are killing is somehow less than human, unworthy of lifeor less worthy of life, and or an immediate threat to your well being.8 The human instinct for self preservation can bepowerful than even our most deeply held convictions When push comes to shove, the will to survive often trumps all else.9 Revenge is a dish best not served If a victim s only sense of justice comes from victimizing his perpetrator it only perpetuates the cycle The Germans felt victimized by the Jews in World War I whether justified or not If in the process of killing the monster you have to become one, have your really won Some passages that stood out for me ComplicityAuschwitz prisoners were even sold to the Bayer company, part of the I.G Farben, as human guinea pigs for the testing of new drugs One of the communications from Bayer to the Auschwitz authorities states that The transport of 150 women arrived in good conditions However, we were unable to obtain conclusive results because they died during the experiments We would kindly request that you send us another group of women to the same number and at the same price The Monster WithinToivi Blatt, a boy sent to Sobibor a death camp and spared so he could assist in the killing process by cutting hair, sorting clothes, taking baggage and cleaning camps.Yes, I thought about this But nobody did anything I was fifteen years old and had people with grown up experience all around and nobody was doing anything People change under some conditions People asked me, What did you learn and I think I m only sure of one thing nobody knows themselves The nice person on the street, you ask him, Where is North Street and he goes with you half a block and shows you, and is nice and kind That same person in a different situation could be the worst sadist Nobody knows themselves All of us could be good people or bad people in these different situation Sometimes, when somebody is really nice to me, I find myself thinking, how will he be in Sobibor It is as if, for people like Toivi Blatt, the realization came in the camps that human beings resemble elements that are changeable according to temperature Just as water only exists as water in a certain temperature range and is steam or ice in others, so human beings can become different people according to extremes of circumstance One of the most disturbing aspects of this analysis is, in my experience, that it is one shared by many perpetrators I remember one former dedicated member of the Nazi party saying to me in an exasperated manner, after I pressed him on why so many went along with the horrors of the regimes, The trouble with the world today is that people who have never been tested go around making judgments about people who have One Man s Morality is Another Man s MadnessEven today Morris has no problem with having killed this German prisoner It mattered not that the man he murdered had been a fellow inmate of Auschwitz All that was important was the language he d been speaking I was happy They the Germans killed all my family, thirty or forty people, and I killed one German Phuh That was nothing If I could kill a hundred of them I would be glad, because they destroyed us completely No matter how he is questioned on the subject, Morris is unable to see any difference between the Germans who ran Auschwitz and the German prisoner he killed on the cattle car on that freezing winter night in Poland We got angry, he Moshe Tavor a member of the Jewish Brigade says simply And many of us felt it wasn t enough that we participated in the war So Moshe Tavor and his comrades discussed ways that they could take revenge on the Germans Tavor says that they first used whatever contacts they hadOnce all this preparation was complete, they would drive up to a house of the suspected perpetrator and take him away for an interrogation We would take this guy and he wouldn t resist And from that moment on he no longer saw anything He never saw his house again In reference to the vigilante style killings Not that I was happy to do it but I did it I never had to drink before to make myself enthusiastic I was always enthusiastic enough I m not saying that I was indifferent, but I was calm and quiet and I did my work You can compare me perhaps even to the Germans themselves who did it, because they also did their work.When I did it I felt very good I mean not at the moment of the killing, but during that overall period of time I can t say that I feel bad about it now you can tell me I murdered people, but I know who I killed So I m not proud and I m not guilty about it I don t wake up at night with bad dreams or anything I sleep well I eat well I live Maybe They Deserved It I couldn t understand how six or eight German soldiers could lead one hundred and fifty people into vehicles and take them away I think I might have attacked one of those Germans and let them kill me and get it over withI feel very connected to the people who fought here in Israel two thousand years ago and I was less attached to the Jew who went like sheep to the slaughter this I couldn t understand I m Bad But He s Really BadYou still kill them but you kill them from a distance, and it doesn t have the demoralizing effect upon you that it did if I went up and stuck a bayonet in someone s stomach in the course of combat It s just different It s kind of like conducting war through a video game My favorite quote I now live by came from this book.when a survivor was asked how he made it through Auschwitz, he replied worse things have happened to better people I think twice about my woes when I think of his response The real bloodbath was about to begin One word for it,Excruciating I don t know what else to say, I m too dumbfounded to speakHaving suffered in the camp himself for nearly two years, Paczy ski felt no great emotion as he saw these people go to their deaths One becomes indifferent Today you go, tomorrow I will go You become indifferent A human being can get used to anything This historical non fiction is 300 pages but I spent only 3 working days which means I read only at home late evening and early morning to finish it I just could not put it down It is well reseached and contains interviews of the survivors not only the Jews from diffent countries Poland, France, Italy, Slovakia, Hungary, Belgium and Netherlands, etc but also the other groups like gypsies, Jehova s Witness, etc Previously, my only knowledge about Holocaust was those from watching Schindl This historical non fiction is 300 pages but I spent only 3 working days which means I read only at home late evening and early morning to finish it I just could not put it down It is well reseached and contains interviews of the survivors not only the Jews from diffent countries Poland, France, Italy, Slovakia, Hungary, Belgium and Netherlands, etc but also the other groups like gypsies, Jehova s Witness, etc Previously, my only knowledge about Holocaust was those from watching Schindler s List and The Pianist and reading Anne Frank and Victor Klemperer read in April of this year This book, however, Auschwitz A New History, gives adetails on what happened not only in Auschwitz but also in the other lesser known death camps like Birkenau, Sobibor, Belzec, Bergen Belsen, etc Anne Frank was in the hiding while Victor Klemperer was working outside the concentration camp during the Holocaust This book tells us about the atrocities of the Germany as they implemented The Final Solution.I learned so many things but the ones that stucked me most are 1 There were brothels with working prostitutes inside Auschwitz to motivate the Germans Kapos and guards , their unwilling but had no choice cohorts Sonderkommandos and even the Jews Unlike the comfort women in Korea, the Philippines, etc the prostitutes here were not forced as they were paid for their services and they give what one wants.2 Canada is that place where some chosen women work by sorting out the valuables of the Jews after they are gassed out Working in Canada is a privilege as there are foods and roof above their heads but they are also tortured and raped by the Kapos.3 The Kapos favored hiring Jehova s Witnesses as they are very honest and hardworking These people believe that God was still with them inside the camp which was unlike the Jews that abandoned their faith Most Jews who survived said that they just went through the motion and learned to be numbed 4 That the Germans killed so many people like 10,000 per day This coined the term Death Factories It is really barbaric and I could not put down the book and sleep at the height of anger I ended up light headed in the office for a couple of days because of few hours of sleep.There are other heartwarming small stories in the book, e.g., the Kapos falling in love with the lady Jew after hearing her sing, the 8 year old girl who saw a ghost across the river and survived the later part of the Holocaust, the two Sonderkommandos who were not used to seeing dead people but were asked to assist in gassing the victims and later get their gold teeth Small stories were told in crisp, vivid way that will surely imprint the images in your mind for the rest of your life.This is one hell of a book for one hell of the history of shame Laurence Rees traces the history of Auschwitz, and uses it as a lens to view the progression of the wider Holocaust It s hard to describe something like this as enjoyable but it s a very interesting and in my view necessary book. I ve read countless books on the holocaust I ve taken classes on Genocide The pages I ve read and absorbed on hate, suffering and the amazing will to survive will never leave me Books on Hitler Nazis Speer H ss Goebbels Even Eva Germany France Russia Hungary Poland Ghettos Stars Treblinka Sobibor Ravensbruk Dachau And of course, Auschwitz I ve been there I ve made that climb to the Eagles Nest and viewed that panoramic sky It s downright evil that such a place of beauty ev I ve read countless books on the holocaust I ve taken classes on Genocide The pages I ve read and absorbed on hate, suffering and the amazing will to survive will never leave me Books on Hitler Nazis Speer H ss Goebbels Even Eva Germany France Russia Hungary Poland Ghettos Stars Treblinka Sobibor Ravensbruk Dachau And of course, Auschwitz I ve been there I ve made that climb to the Eagles Nest and viewed that panoramic sky It s downright evil that such a place of beauty ever gave Adolf and those close to him even a momentary speck of solace.Yet, as ever, there are still stories to be told Things to be learned Misinformation to be debunked and sorted out as new found information comes to light The learning continuum relentlessly rolls on Even regarding such a heavily reported subject as this.The Washington Post has this to say about the British Award Winning author and filmmaker Laurence Rees on his book AuschwitzRees does at the gut level what Hannah Arendt achieved forty years agoforcing the reader to shift the Holocaust out of the realm of nightmare or Gothic horror and acknowledge it as something all to humanLaurence Rees, with his insightful, probing book into Nazi Germany and the Concentration Camps, the Guards and SS Officers who ran them, particulary Auschwitz, won the History Book of the Year Award in Britian in 2006 as well as a British Academy of Film and Television Arts Award for writing, producing, and directing a series of his book He Is the only person to of been awarded this dual distinction.If you think you know all there is all to know about Auschwitz, think again This book has a lot to offer.If you know you don t know enough about the holocaust, read this book Hey, pick any book If you don t understand the insidious nature of Genocide The Armenian genocide, Rawanda, Darfur, Bosnia start educating yourself Genocides abound What they have in common is a slow eerily quiet beginning, before ascending It need never happen It must never happen Not again The 5 stars I gave are not oh my gosh this was amazing 5 stars It was I am completely speechless and cannot believe what I did not know 5 stars I only write these reviews to print them out in my journal so 30 years from now I can laugh at how dumb I was Or to see what I thought when I re read something There were times in this book I went and hid in my room to cry so my wife couldn t see me I have had countless sleepless nights My kids have yelled out in their sleep and I have dashed into The 5 stars I gave are not oh my gosh this was amazing 5 stars It was I am completely speechless and cannot believe what I did not know 5 stars I only write these reviews to print them out in my journal so 30 years from now I can laugh at how dumb I was Or to see what I thought when I re read something There were times in this book I went and hid in my room to cry so my wife couldn t see me I have had countless sleepless nights My kids have yelled out in their sleep and I have dashed into their room to realize it was nothing, then wander into the kitchen and sit at the table to try to get the thoughts out of my head, then blurry eyed wander back into their rooms to make sure they are still there I will never forget what I have learned My problems are so small You have to read this book Funny, I almost finished it on Pearl Harbor Day, the day Hitler fully committed to murder all of Europe s Jews and then burn their remains Children, women, men All of them THE FLOWERS IN THE WINDOWBOXWhen you read about the Nazis there s always this strange contradiction their famous obsession with order, with following orders, with classification, rules, hierarchy, and all of that, is superimposed upon a regime which was most of the time in chaos, ministries competing with other ministries, states the SS within states for many really big projects there was a culture of no written orders, and in many cases major policies were made up on the spot.The answer to THE FLOWERS IN THE WINDOWBOXWhen you read about the Nazis there s always this strange contradiction their famous obsession with order, with following orders, with classification, rules, hierarchy, and all of that, is superimposed upon a regime which was most of the time in chaos, ministries competing with other ministries, states the SS within states for many really big projects there was a culture of no written orders, and in many cases major policies were made up on the spot.The answer to this puzzle is the Nazi regime was radical It was specifically not democratic and consensual If a decision was reached at the top it was of no concern if it contradicted any other policy, or even if it was frankly impossible If subordinates raised any practical objections they were toldYou will find a way This led to, for instance, Rudolph Hoess, newly appointed commandant of Auschwitz, driving around the villages of southern Poland scavenging and stealing any building materials he could find in order to get some barracks built in 1940.In Auschwitz chaos and efficiency were fused together It was never one thing, not even one camp It was originally a labour camp for Polish political prisoners and some German criminals then came the Russian prisoners of war And it grew and grew Eventually Auschwitz was an area of about 25 square miles There were two big camps, Auschwitz I and Birkenau, then there were 43 sub camps which appeared as industries such as I G Farben and Bayer moved in and constructed nearby factories and paid the SS for slave labour Bayer is one of the companies I now indirectly work for, it s one of our big pharma clients Then some low level gassing experiments began, which in time led to huge purpose built crematoriums with built in gas chambers being constructed in Birkenau, and we arrive at this summary 1.3 million people were sent to Auschwitz1.1 million died there 1 million of them were Jews The non Jews were made up of 70,000 Poles, 20,000 Roma and 10,000 Russians WE HAVE CARRIED OUT THIS MOST DIFFICULT TASK FOR THE LOVE OF OUR PEOPLE The first part of the Holocaust was wild and anarchic The Einsatzgruppen squads murdered Jews just behind the front line in the USSR and they did this by the crudest of methods, they lined the people up, men, women and children, and shot them, and threw them in ditches or pits This was horrible work, it was day in and day out It quickly destroyed the morale of the soldiers They couldn t take it There had to be a better way And there was The Aktion T4 euthenasia programme for the eradication of incurables in Germany had started in September 1939 and had already concluded that gassing these victims wasefficient than administering lethal injections By the end of 1941 about 70,000 incurables had been killed at six different centres It was logical to try a few gassing experiments on prisoners in concentration camps and it did seem to work pretty well once they found something better than carbon monoxide which took too long to kill people The SS liked the gassing concept because it insulated the SS soldier from the actual killing, that was the main point Germans did not have to put up with all the screaming and misery or have to look at the dead bodies All that was the job of the Sonderkommando, which were recruited from the camp inmates Let the Jews kill themselves Let the Jews pull out their own gold teeth Let the Jews incinerate themselves So three extermination camps were constructed, and these are amazingly unfamous Belzec, Sobibor and Treblinka They were specifically for killing, they did not use any prisoners for slave labour, they were located far away from population centres, way out in the Polish countryside And they were small They really should befamous, because they were extremely efficient.Belzec operated from March 42 to June 43 People killed there approximately 600,000Sobibor operated march 42 to October 43 People killed there between 200, 000 and 250,000Treblinka operated between July 42 and August 43 People killed there approximately 870,000THIS IS AN UNWRITTEN AND NEVER TO BE WRITTEN PAGE OF GLORY IN OUR HISTORY After these camps were closed their existence was removed from the face of the earth The land was ploughed, and turned back into farmland, a family was found to live there and tell anyone who asked that they had been there for generations It was as if the Nazis knew they had committed a crime and they were hiding it In the same way they always wreathed their official documents about the final solution in euphemism and opaque bureaucracy Why In exactly the same way that a psychopath like Ted Bundy or Peter Sutcliffe would carefully cover up their murders Neither the Nazis, Ted Bundy or Peter Sutcliffe believed for a moment that what they had done was wrong Not at all But they knew that other less enlightened people did think it was wrong In the Nazis case, even other Germans might think it was wrong Because they just hadn t had enough time to come to the understanding of this awful necessity, as Himmler might have put it Even Hitler had to get to a point where he realised, after years of fulminating about smashing the Jews, crushing them, destroying them, that he could actually physically kill them all He d been trying to get them to disappear for years ship them all to Madagascar was one ridiculous idea but that hadn t meant actually killing them until 1941.TO HAVE SEEN THIS THROUGH AND TO HAVE REMAINED DECENT First they drove the prisoners from the cattle trucks to the gas chambers with whips and dogs That also proved to be distressing for all concerned So they realised that treating the arrivals with cool efficiency, even courtesy, made the whole process so much easier They also discovered that it was no problem to separate the men from the women but it was counter productive to try to separate the women from their children At Treblinka they rigged up a fake jolly country railway station complete with welcoming band playing popular marches and light classical pieces, nothing too heavy Easy does it STUFF I DID NOT KNOW 1DID YOU KNOW THERE WAS A BROTHEL AT AUSCHWITZ There was a hierarchy of prisoners At the bottom were the Jews considered unfit for work They were killed In the middle were the Jews, Russians and Poles who were considered fit for being worked to death At the top were kapos and German prisoners who had specialist jobs For these, Hoess set up a brothel in August 1943 The deniers have jumped on this bizarre fact a death camp with a brothel Come off it Proves it was an okay place really There were no gas chambers And so on.STUFF I DID NOT KNOW 2Jews living in the United Kingdom were handed over to the Nazis for deportation to concentration camps This was a miserable discovery What happened was that the British government decided that the Channel islands were useless and would not be defended These are islands between Britain and France which are part of Great Britain A lot of Islanders decamped for the mainland but a lot didn t The German army occupied the islands in summer 1940 without a single shot being fired Then they rolled out their Jew hating policies Now, the Nazis also hated Freemasons A not so well known fact And they wanted to deport all Jews and all Freemasons The islanders kicked up a huge protest about the masons, because the Channel Islands is a hotbed of masonry But they gave up the handful under ten of Jews without much of a murmer not that they could have done anything STUFF I DID NOT KNOW 3There s a huge, huge debate about whether the Allies could have ameliorated the suffering of the Jews by bombing Auschwitz Books, essays, letters to the editor, this has been going on a while It s the hectic part of a wider debate about what did the Allies know about the Holocaust and when did they know it Rees slashes through the nonsense He says 1 the Allies knew about the final solution by late 42 early 43 2 there was nothing they could have done which would have changed anything, either for Auschwitz specifically or anywhere else But what about this damning quote from Anthony Eden during discussions in Washington in March 1943 about Hungarian Jews all of whom were later murdered in Auschwitz he said it was important to move very cautiously about offering to take all the Jews out of a country if we do that then the Jews of the world will be wanting us to make similar efforts in Poland and Germany Hitler may well take us up on any such offer and there are simply not enough ships and means of transportation to handle themp312 By 1943 Hitler had decided on physical liquidation, but if the offer to take all Jews had been made in 1941, then maybe, maybe Hitler would have agreed You know, I don t want to think about that.THIS BOOKIt s pretty good, very readable, but the first half is always turning into a history of the Final Solution and not a history of Auschwitz Once a couple of German companies are namechecked they don t rate any further analysis Whereas Rees devotes 13 pages to the revolt at Sobibor and eight pages to the way that Denmark protected its Jews Both of these interesting stories have nothing to do with Auschwitz I wanted to know muchabout the insidious, repulsive morality of the exploitation of slave labour by big German industry THE MORAL QUAGMIRE OF YOUR WAR CRIMES VS MY WAR CRIMESBritish Air Staff paper, dated September 23, 1941 The ultimate aim of an attack on a town area is to break the morale of the population which occupies it To ensure this, we must achieve two things first, we must make the town physically uninhabitable and, secondly, we must make the people conscious of constant personal danger The immediate aim, is therefore, twofold, namely, to produce i destruction and ii fear of deathOscar Groening, ex SS, who worked at Auschwitz and was interviewed for this book, commented We saw how bombs were dropped on Germany, and women and children died in firestorms We saw this and said This is a war that is being led in this way by both sides.Rees spends a few frantic paragraphs explaining that there was no moral equivalent at all between the nazis gassing women and children and the Allies bombing and burning women and children It s a false comparison But he still says the comparison is emotionally disturbing one reason being that so many raised objections to the carpet bombing of German towns and cities at the time including Churchill The bombing campaign killed a minimum of 305,000 German civilians And the comparison works the bombers were distanced completely from the horror they unleashed, as the SS guards were insulated from the gassings by the use of Jews to do all the disgusting work for them Well, no.GERANIUMSAs I mentioned, the SS found that shepherding the Jews to the gas chambers worked much better than brutality, and one nice touch, I think you ll agree, was that someone had the idea of putting windowboxes full of geraniums outside the crematoriums There weren t any flowers anywhere else in Auschwitz, but here, where the Jews were killed, there were lots of windowboxes full of geraniums from a speech by Himmler to the SS, 6 October 1943 Hence, the person who doesn t even realise that other people will think what he has done is a crime is insane ^EPUB ↠ Auschwitz: The Nazis & the 'Final Solution' ↽ In this compelling book, highly acclaimed author and broadcaster Laurence Rees tells the definitive history of the most notorious Nazi institution of them all We discover how Auschwitz evolved from a concentration camp for Polish political prisoners into the site of the largest mass murder in history part death camp, part concentration camp, where around a million Jews were killed Auschwitz examines the mentality and motivations of the key Nazi decision makers, and perpetrators of appalling crimes speak here for the first time about their actions Fascinating and disturbing facts have been uncovered from the operation of a brothel to the corruption that was rife throughout the camp The book draws on intriguing new documentary material from recently opened Russian archives, which will challenge many previously accepted argumentsThis is the story of murder, brutality, courage, escape and survival, and a powerful account of how human tragedy of such immense scale could have happened