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Death Dealer: The Memoirs of the SS Kommandant at Auschwitz Paperback – March 22, 1996

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 414 pages
  • Publisher: Da Capo Press (March 22, 1996)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0306806983
  • ISBN-13: 978-0306806988
  • Product Dimensions: 9 x 6.3 x 0.9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.5 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (74 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #128,403 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

This first complete English translation of a senior Nazi officer's account of the Final Solution describes in cold, stomach-churning detail the program of genocide as an administrative procedure. Written during the six months before his 1947 execution in Warsaw for "crimes committed against the Polish people," Hoss's memoirs are filled with specific recollections, from his fervently religious boyhood in Mannheim, through a prison term in Liepzig (for having killed a fellow soldier), to marriage and induction into the SS in 1934. Particulars of his roles in the concentration camp system include his ordering of "the first execution of the war" at Sachsenhausen in 1938 and his 1941 assignment to establish and manage Auschwitz as "the largest human killing center in all of history." Personal squabbles with other SS leaders are interspersed with chilling descriptions of prison conditions and gassing procedures. This compelling historical document, from which Hoss emerges as a classic model of the bureaucratic middle manager, is expertly edited by Paskuly, a history teacher in New York; Pollinger's translation is seamless. Photos not seen by PW.
Copyright 1992 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

From Library Journal

The man who presided over the expansion and lethal functioning of Auschwitz concentration camp, which surely earned him the distinction of being "the greatest destroyer of human beings in history," left behind this memoir before he was executed by the Poles at the end of World War II. A dedicated bureaucrat, Hoss smothered his feelings and devoted his talents to the killing of millions, even though he "personally never hated the Jews." The work was hard, and he "was no longer happy at Auschwitz once the mass annihilation began." An editorial glossary of terms and personalities enhances the usefulness of this valuable addition to Holocaust studies, a chilling self-portrait of an all-too-typical servant of totalitarianism.
- R.H. Johnston, McMaster Univ., Hamilton, Ontario
Copyright 1992 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

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Customer Reviews

The calmness in which Hoess relates his story is disturbing.
Alan Beggerow
He spent most of the time repeating how he was opposed to the way the Jews and other inmates were treated in the camps and know one would listen to him.
Susan A. Davis
Hoss has the temerity to conclude "Just think how much better Auschwitz would have run without people like Fritsch." Just think!

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

177 of 180 people found the following review helpful By Richard P. Mayhew on May 17, 2000
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Rudolf Hoess was captured shortly after the war and wrote this amazing collection of thoughts observations and descriptions while on trial and while waiting to be executed. Hoess explains very clearly the history, structure and mission of the camps (not just Auschwitz) to include just about every aspect, from blockleader, Kapo, guard to Kommandant, even discussing the pros and cons of using dogs as guards. His descriptions of the gassing process are spellbinding and shocking all at once, you feel almost obcene while reading them as if you were the one looking through the peep-hole in the door as these poor peole is that vivid. He describes the architectural concerns that were taken into account while designing and building (book contains diagrams and photos as well) the crematoriums. He does not deny his role, but he does fall back on the old "just following orders" excuse, and saying that he was betrayed by the higher up in the Nazi party. He describes some unusual things in this book, for example, he tells of how well his children got along with the inmates, asking for cigarettes to pass out to them, he speaks of the most daring and ingenious escapes that he witnessed while while in the camps, he speaks of the difficulties that could be avoided by fooling inmates into thinking up to the last moment that they were really only going the shower, not an execution/murder, he recalls some of the most haunting words and deeds of prisoners just before the doors to the gas chamber were closed. There is one recollection that really disturbed me, it concerned a young girl who somehow survives the Cyclone-B gassing under a pile of fellow prisoners, is revived, given food and clothes only to be discovered by a guard and executed.Read more ›
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67 of 67 people found the following review helpful By taking a rest HALL OF FAME on July 9, 2000
Format: Hardcover
There have been several reviewers asking the who and why and how questions relating to the question of those that commit Genocide. This book by no means answers all of these questions. There are strong arguments that there are no real answers to the atrocities that were committed, and by what means the thousands that were needed to implement them did bring themselves to do so. This book is interesting as it is a first person account of the man who supervised Auschwitz, a man considered the individual to have supervised well over 2,000,000 murders.
The only reason this lacks a 5th star is that there is some question as to whether or not everything Rudolpf Hoss wrote is 100% accurate. As this man was heading toward his death, it is generally felt that what is written represents his true feelings and thoughts about what he did.
This memoir/diary was written during his incarceration prior to his eventual execution, over a period of time from October of 1946 to April of 1947.
This is not a pleasant book; the pictures that are a part of it were even more horrific for me, as they accompanied the text of the man who created the situations that are depicted. This work is also difficult as you read of a life that starts in no remarkable way, yet leads to this individual becoming one of the key players in the actual implementation of The Holocaust.
The horror in the tale is the manner he carried out his tasks. He did not place any distance between himself and the day-to-day activities. He was fully immersed in them, and in many cases was there designer. He was central to the methods developed for the methodically efficient killing, the gas to be used, and disposal of victims.
When you get to the end you will understand more about one mind that participated in an unthinkable act. Your questions may not be all answered, but you will have gained a valuable insight into the mind of one of the perpetrators of this 20th century slaughter.
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124 of 138 people found the following review helpful By Luciano Lupini on April 12, 2002
Format: Paperback
This book provides a first hand account about the youth, carrier and the personal participation in the Holocaust, extermination of gypsies, russian prisoners and other human beings, of a man that was Kommandant at Auschwitz, from 1940 until 1943 and then Chief of the Department of Inspectors of the Concentration Camps.
Rudolph H?ss, a man with a psychopathic personality, tells a gruesome, personal and detailed tale about the inception of Auschwitz, the logistical problems of its expansion, the gassings, his quarreling with other camp commanders due to their unproficiency, with the detachment and the normalcy of a bureaucrat, all of which not only makes a case study in the psychiatry of mass murder, but also recalls the concept of the banality of evil, elaborated by Hanna Arendt in her book about Adolph Eichmann's trial ( no surprise here, since these two fellows used to cooperate in their endeavour).
The reasons given for their participation in the crimes committed, reveal the danger of a totalitarian or fanatical education, not only for the feeble minded, but also for "normal people" without a clear perception of the distinction between evil and good, from an ethical standpoint. Reading this book we confirm the distinction made by the scholars between the psyche of a serial killer (an intimate act) and that of the mass murderer (ideologically driven detachment).
H?ss tells us about an infancy without real love, and how he couldn't relate with affection to his parents, sister, and then his wife. After he marries, his real dream is to have a farm, but the opportunity is given to him to enter in the S.S. by Himmler himself. In Auschwitz, he claims never to have mistreated personally any prisoner and that he always behaved in a professional manner.
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