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Auschwitz: A History Paperback – August 1, 2006


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Paperback, August 1, 2006
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 176 pages
  • Publisher: Penguin Books (August 1, 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 014102142X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0141021423
  • Product Dimensions: 4.3 x 6.9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 5 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (56 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #10,472,254 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

In concise and sober fashion, German historian Steinbacher traces the history of Auschwitz from a medieval trading town to the major extermination camp of the Holocaust. Like so many eastern European towns, Auschwitz for centuries had a mixed population of Germans, Poles, Jews, Ukrainians and others, who by and large managed to coexist. After the quick defeat of Poland by Germany in WWII, the Nazis first sought to establish a concentration camp for political prisoners, and Auschwitz's location on major rail lines and with access to mineral resources made it an ideal site. Quickly the camp became the setting for larger Nazi ambitions to establish German domination, which meant the exploitation of Polish labor and the elimination of Jews. The events that culminated in Auschwitz developing into a sprawling complex of human misery covering some 60 square miles are related based on extensive and up-to-date research. Steinbacher carefully depicts the alternate universe of Auschwitz, entering into the lives and the deaths of its inhabitants, including the businessmen and SS officers—who, with no apparent qualms, managed the camp—and their victims. Steinbacher, a visiting fellow for European studies at Harvard, avoids extensive analysis or morality tales; the meaning of Auschwitz is in the details, which she provides with clinical precision. B&w illus., maps. (Aug. 16)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Booklist

Steinbacher posits that the purpose of her book is to represent the various aspects of the history of Auschwitz in their most important contexts; to draw attention, within the wider perspective of political and social history, to the historical and political space in which the crimes were committed; and to sketch the subsequent history of the camp. She believes that Auschwitz was the focus of the two main ideological ideas of the Nazi regime: it was the biggest stage for mass murder of European Jewry, and at the same time a "crystallization point of the policy of settlement and 'Germanization.'" The author traces the history of the town of Auschwitz (known as Oswiecim under Polish rule) and of the camp and its subcamps. Steinbacher discusses the Nazis' extermination policy, their first experiments in mass killings, the construction of Birkenau, the murder of non-Jews, the town and camp after liberation, and the trials of several hundred SS members after the end of World War II. A final chapter deals with the extreme right-wing apologists who have denied the mass murder of the Jews. A multitude of books have been written on the camp, yet this brief volume has much to offer both laypersons and scholars interested in its history. First published in Germany in 2004, this is a cogent, penetrating work in the study of the bestiality of Auschwitz, suitable for inclusion in all history collections. George Cohen
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Customer Reviews

The book is written by Sybille Steinbacher, an assistant professor of history at the Ruhr University in Germany.
George J. Heidemark
It is a book every American should read so that they would truly see what human beings are capable of, so that it can be prevented from ever happening again.
Barbara
I felt like the author jumped around way too much making it very difficult, if not impossible, to stay interested.
BBJ

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

29 of 29 people found the following review helpful By Robin Friedman HALL OF FAMETOP 100 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on December 12, 2005
Format: Hardcover
In this short book, Sybille Steinbacher, Assistant Professor in the Faculty of Modern and Contemporary History at Ruhr University, gives a compelling account of Auschwitz. Professor Steinbacher, and her able translator, Shaun Whiteside, writes in a concise, stark, understated, and eloquent way. She avoids the tendency to sensationalize and overdramatize and allows her material to speak for itself. The stylistic, nonsensationalistic excellence of this book adds greatly to its impact.

In brief, measured chapters, Professor Steinbacher discusses the long history of the Polish town of Oswiecim, and its history of Jewish habitation, before it became notorious as Auschwitz. She explains how Auschwitz lay in the path of Germany's eastern expansion and how it inexorably became a killing camp. It moved from a camp for political prisoners and a labor camp to, beginning in mid-1942, a death camp for Jews. She discusses how this change came about as a result of high policy within the Nazi regime and how it was implemented in the camp with mass gasing, shootings, beatings, starvations, and medical torture. She describes the role of the German corporation IB Farben in organizing the camps, using the labor of the prisoners, and providing the cyanide gas, Zyclon B, for the killings. Following her discussion of the founding of the camp, and its development into a site for mass murder, Professor Steinbacher discusses how the Nazi's abandoned the camp, took the remaining prisoners on lengthy death marches, and attempted to destroy the evidence of their brutality as the Soviet Army moved closer and ultimately occupied the camp. She describes the attempt, following the end of the War, to bring some of the perpetuators of Auschwitz to justice, with mixed results.
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Format: Hardcover
The name Auschwitz is so loaded with associations of almost universal evil that it barely occurs to people that there is a reality to be known. Using the name as a shortcut for the Holocaust, for genocide, mass murder, poison gas, crematoria, Nazi SS terror troops, and more actually cheats us. This rather small book takes on the big task of telling in a very straightforward way how Auschwitz came to be, what happened there during the Second World War, and its aftermath.

Auschwitz is the name the Germans applied to a Polish town as they moved to the East to provide "Living Space" and a buffer against the Soviets. At first they moved the Poles out of the town to other prison camps and then brought them back and killed thousands. IG Farben decided it could use the slave labor such camps could provide and so a huge factory was built. But the camp was too far away for malnourished prisoners to travel each day. They had hoped these prisoners would be at least half as effective as a healthy German. The prisoners, starved, beaten, and traumatized, were only about 20% as effective. So, a camp was built next to the plant.

Soviet Prisoners of War by the thousands were also brought to an Auschwitz camp to be slaves, they ended up being useless for that purpose. More than 10,000 of them were killed as well. When the war effort began going badly the camps moved into extermination and a huge third camp was begun with enough capacity to burn more than 4,500 bodies per day. They were never all in service at the same time, but what did exist was so overburdened with use that they became damaged and required repair. Bodies were burned in open trenches during the repairs.
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19 of 22 people found the following review helpful By Marilyn A on August 4, 2013
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
I've just started reading what promises to be a very thorough and detailed history of Auschwitz. Unfortunately, however, the quality and therefore utility of the many maps and drawings is very poor in the Kindle edition, and so much of their value is lost as a result. I wish I had purchased a hard copy of this book instead.
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Format: Paperback
The name Auschwitz is so loaded with associations of almost universal evil that it barely occurs to people that there is a reality to be known. Using the name as a shortcut for the Holocaust, for genocide, mass murder, poison gas, crematoria, Nazi SS terror troops, and more actually cheats us. This rather small book takes on the big task of telling in a very straightforward way how Auschwitz came to be, what happened there during the Second World War, and its aftermath.

Auschwitz is the name the Germans applied to a Polish town as they moved to the East to provide "Living Space" and a buffer against the Soviets. At first they moved the Poles out of the town to other prison camps and then brought them back and killed thousands. IG Farben decided it could use the slave labor such camps could provide and so a huge factory was built. But the camp was too far away for malnourished prisoners to travel each day. They had hoped these prisoners would be at least half as effective as a healthy German. The prisoners, starved, beaten, and traumatized, were only about 20% as effective. So, a camp was built next to the plant.

Soviet Prisoners of War by the thousands were also brought to an Auschwitz camp to be slaves, they ended up being useless for that purpose. More than 10,000 of them were killed as well. When the war effort began going badly the camps moved into extermination and a huge third camp was begun with enough capacity to burn more than 4,500 bodies per day. They were never all in service at the same time, but what did exist was so overburdened with use that they became damaged and required repair. Bodies were burned in open trenches during the repairs.
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