Anatomy of the Auschwitz Death Camp

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Anatomy of the Auschwitz Death Camp [Paperback]

Yisrael Gutman , Michael Berenbaum
4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (12 customer reviews)

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Book Description

April 22, 1998

"This learned volume is about as chilling as historiography gets." —Walter Laqueur, The New Republic

"... a one-volume study of Auschwitz without peer in Holocaust literature." —Kirkus Reviews

"... a comprehensive portrait of the largest and most lethal of the Nazi death camps... serves as a vital contribution to Holocaust studies and a bulwark against forgetting." —Publishers Weekly

More than a million people were murdered at Auschwitz, of whom 90 percent were Jews. Here leading scholars from around the world provide the first comprehensive account of what took place at Auschwitz.

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Editorial Reviews Review

Anatomy of the Auschwitz Death Camp, edited by Yisrael Gutman and Michael Berenbaum, is probably the most comprehensive volume on Auschwitz in print. Essays by leading scholars from Europe, Israel, and the United States document the history of the camp, the technology and magnitude of the genocide that occurred there, profiles of the inmates and the Nazis who ran the camp (such as Joseph Mengele), the underground resistance that arose, and what the outside world knew about Auschwitz and when. It's not a book to read straight through because of the sheer volume of information (more than 600 pages of text) and the horror of its contents. But it's the best resource for answering a wide variety of questions about the camp, especially those raised by the many excellent memoirs by the survivors. --Michael Joseph Gross

From Publishers Weekly

In original essays, some 20 scholars from the U.S., Israel and Europe contribute to a comprehensive portrait of the largest and most lethal of the Nazi death camps. If the book lacks the drive of a narrative history, it nonetheless serves as a vital contribution to Holocaust studies and a bulwark against forgetting. Several essays are notable. Franciszek Piper describes how Auschwitz exploited prisoners as laborers before exterminating them, and Robert-Jan Van Pelt discusses how Auschwitz was the focus of "a Faustian project to create a German paradise amid Polish perdition." Aleksander Lasik writes on camp commandant Rudolf Hoss, a dutiful functionary who neither evaded responsibility nor was troubled by conscience. Hermann Langbein, a former prisoner himself, recounts prisoner efforts at resistance, ranging from smuggling medicine supplied by the Polish underground to the only major rebellion in the camp's history, the blowing up of a crematorium, which "cannot be exactly recounted." David Wyman argues that the U.S. military evaded bombing the camp because they considered rescuing Jews to be an "extraneous problem" and an "unwanted burden." Newly authoritative information is included in several essays, including one by Jean-Claude Pressac, a French investigator and former Holocaust denier, on the construction of the gas chambers and crematoria, and another by Piper that assesses the number of victims as at least 1.1 million, 90% of them Jews. Gutman directs the Research Center at Yad Vashem in Israel; Berenbaum directs the Research Institute at the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum. Illustrations not seen by PW.
Copyright 1994 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Product Details

  • Paperback: 656 pages
  • Publisher: Indiana University Press; Reprint edition (April 22, 1998)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 025320884X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0253208842
  • Product Dimensions: 6.1 x 1.6 x 9.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (12 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #808,712 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
26 of 30 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Auschwitz laid bare. October 13, 2000
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
There have, of course, been many studies of Auschwitz. However, this is far and away the most comprehensive to appear. The many contributors cover the historical, sociological and psychological aspects in rigorous and scholarly style. This reviewer would pick out as particularly insightful Aleksander Lasik's analysis of the SS at the camp,whose numbers grew steadily as the war progressed,and Nathan Cohen for a gripping account of the diaries of the Sonderkommando which were found near the crematoria at Birkenau. Since the book is over 600 pages of closely argued text, it is in effect a work of reference. Fortunately, the index appears to be very good and following up subjects or characters is not difficult. There are, incidentally, two themes not really tracked here: holocaust revisionism debates nor Auschwitz as portrayed in the mass media. The editors, no doubt sensibly, have instead revealed what made Auschwitz tick and how perpetrators and victims related to their gruesome environment.
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22 of 26 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A REVISIONIST'S NIGTHMARE February 18, 2002
This book contains several studies by different scholars, about the workings of the Auschwitz killing machine. Very well researched, it addresses different moral, legal, sociological and psychological issues about the people that worked (S.S. and Sonderkommando) and those who died in the camp. It also provides valuable insigths and enough documented information about Auschwitz's infrastructure, that clearly eliminates any possibility to deny the reality of this tragedy.
If you are a historian or a scholar of the Holocaust or the S.S, you should have this book in your library. If you are a Holocaust denier, you must read this book, with an open mind. Then, you will be able to perhaps move on, to deny Pol Pot's killing fields...
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14 of 17 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Expectations can ignore reality September 25, 2004
Michael Ryan calls the book "cold". I have a large library of books on the Holocaust that look at through many eyes. Often the books by survivors are filled with emotion and facts as seen from a narrow view. A scientific study gives us the facts in as much detail as possible ON THE POINTS STUDIED. Read Hoess's autobiography for possibly the best understanding of the minds of many of the participants.

To Mr. Frantzman I would suggest that this book is 600 pages long, but certainly not ALL INCLUSIVE. I doubt that anyone could possibly write a single book (or a set within a rational time) that can deal "fairly" with every facit of the camp. My first book was the seminal "The Destruction of European Jewery" by Raul Hilberg who a few years ago I had a chance to meet and discuss issues. He said that it would take a library of books (which I have) to cover all the aspects of the Holocaust, and still we would only know ABOUT it. And he was right. I KNOW WHAT HAPPENED IN DETAIL--BUT DON'T TRULY UNDERSTAND HOW A NATION COULD DO SUCH A THING. Aways there are the "insane"--but a NATION? But what about Pol Pot, Africa, etc. Even many of those who survived (and I have known a number) cannot stretch their minds to understand. And some of my friends were in the first batch of American soldiers to enter a camp, and to their deaths they could still FEEL (and have nightmares about)it--but not understand how it could happen.
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars ANATOMY OF THE AUSCHWITZ DEATH CAMP October 30, 2005
By A. Moug
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Excellent and detailed account of all aspects of the Auschwitz/Birkenau complex and its subcamps. The illustrations and pictures of the installations and camp add a new insight into the history and functioning of the camp and gives a different perspective on the technology and mindset that led to the mass murder and annihilation that took place there. As reader of holocaust literature for nearly 35 years, I consider this to be a definitive work on this subject.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Holecaust researchers should have this book June 23, 2009
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
More than two milliion poeple died in Auschwitz, 80% of them Jewish.
Principal sections in this book addres the history of this camp,the
perpetrators,the inmates,escapes and even underground resistance.
An excelend one-volume on the history of Auchwitz.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Terrific piece of literature September 25, 2008
This was the single most well-written book I have found on this topic. The authors present the reader with a very large amount of facts and knowledge in an incredibly articulate manner. I would definitely recommend this book to a friend.
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