Top critical review
52 people found this helpful
A narration with more of a clinical telling?
on January 24, 2010
Dr Nyiszli tells his story beginning with his imprisonment in Auschwitz in 1944 and subsequent job chosen as the infamous Dr Mengele's right hand assistant, performing autopsies as part of the "great" Aryan experiments.
The writing seemed clinical, maybe because it's written by a physician, (I found the questions of this truly being written by Dr Nyiszli disturbing, and it's left me wondering, was the clinical emphasis a deliberate attempt?) and I also kept having the feeling that it was detached, as though Dr Nyiszli was standing off from what was going on. Maybe that's how he coped and was able to maintain sanity, but what I wanted was his emotional reaction on a gut level to all the horrors that he faced. He wrote quite a bit about his findings on autopsy, and those I found especially interesting were concerning the dysentery patients. I've read a lot about the holocaust and the death camps so none of this information was new; I was just wanted the man's personal story, and it felt more like a relating of facts, though several passages were extremely graphic and effective.
One passage I found disturbing was where a fellow prisoner has taken an overdose of sleeping pills in a suicide attempt, the other prisoners gathered around begging the dr. to "let him go instead of saving him only to prolong his agony and be shot within a few weeks anyway"- the workers being allowed to live only 4 weeks in that compound. The good dr. proceeds to inject him with the antidote to save him without a second thought...saying that "the doctor in me came forth." What?! If he had said he saved the man because he feared the SS would otherwise punish him I could have accepted it, but bringing him back seemed so cruel. It also seemed to me, and forgive me if I'm way off base, but that Dr Nyiszli felt himself a little above the rest of the prisoners. And maybe that was a circumstance that was inevitable given the privileges he was lucky enough to have been given. This may be very eye opening for some, but if you haven't read Night by Elie Wiesel, or Schindler's List by Thomas Keneally I would advise trying those first as far better written accounts.