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Five Chimneys: The Story Of Auschwitz Paperback – October 15, 2011


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Editorial Reviews

Review

Having lost her husband, her parents, and her two young sons to the Nazi exterminators, Olga Lengyel had little to live for during her seven-month internment in Auschwitz. Only Lengyel's work in the prisoners' underground resistance and the need to tell this story kept her fighting for survival. She survived by her wit and incredible strength. Despite her horrifying closeness to the subject, Five Chimneys: A Woman Survivor's True Story of Auschwitz does not retreat into self-pit or sensationalism. When Five Chimneys was first published (two years after World War II ended), Albert Einstein was so moved by her story that he wrote a personal letter to Lengyel, thanking her for her "very frank, very well written book". Today, with "ethnic cleansing" in Bosnia, and neo-Nazis on the rise in western Europe, we cannot afford to forget the grisly lessons of the Holocaust. Five Chimneys is a stark reminder that the unspeakable can happen wherever and whenever ethnic hatreds, religious bigotries, and racial discriminations are permitted to exist. -- Midwest Book Review --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Language Notes

Text: English, French (translation) --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 220 pages
  • Publisher: Literary Licensing, LLC (October 15, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1258116618
  • ISBN-13: 978-1258116613
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.5 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 8.8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (304 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,514,102 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

4.7 out of 5 stars

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

220 of 229 people found the following review helpful By Lawyeraau HALL OF FAMETOP 1000 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on February 20, 2005
Format: Paperback
This is the story of a woman who spent about seven months in Auschwitz and survived to tell the tale. She wrote this book shortly after her ordeal, while her horrific experience was still fresh in her mind. It was definitely a mind numbing, life changing experience, as it saw the loss of her entire family, her parents, her children, and her husband. It should be noted that none of them, including Olga, were Jews.

Olga Lengyel lived an upper-middle class existence in Transylvania, in the capital city of Cluj. Her husband, Dr. Miklos Lengyel, was a Berlin trained medical doctor and the director of a private hospital that he had built shortly before the onset of World War II. Olga had also studied medicine and was qualified to be a surgical assistant. She and her husband had two young sons. They were all surviving the war as best they could, with Germans an occupying force. They even had a German soldier billeted with them for a time.

Olga had begun to hear disturbing things about what the Germans were doing in occupied territories, but had discounted it. She felt that Germany, a country that had contributed so much culturally to the world, could not be culpable of some of the atrocities of which she was hearing. She felt the stories that she was hearing were too fantastical to be believable. Then her husband came under the cross-hairs of the Nazis, accused of having his hospital boycott pharmaceuticals made by the German Bayer Company. This was the beginning of the end for the Lengyel family. Shortly thereafter in May of 1944, he was ordered to be deported to Germany.

When Olga heard this, she insisted on accompanying her husband, as she thought that he would be put to work in a German hospital.
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114 of 117 people found the following review helpful By Lee Mellott TOP 1000 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on June 22, 2005
Format: Paperback
Olga Lengyel has written the most graphic, horrifying look at the holocaust I have read.

Olga was an uppermiddle class wife with a degree in the medical sciences. She was married to a doctor who was arrested by the Germans. She felt it was best to stay with her husband and was lulled by the Germans into thinking that she would be fine if she accompanied him. So she, her parents and children followed her husband only to discover that they were not to join him but were sent to a concentration camp.

At the camp an unwitting Olga made the mistake of telling the Germans her son was under 12. Though he was large and could pass for over 12, Olga thought he would be treated in a lenient manner due to his age. Little did she know older and young people were almost immediately put to death. If the loss of her parents, her children and not knowing what had happened to her husband were not enough Olga had to endure the mental and physical trials of the camp.

Those who were not put to death were put to work in the most menial tasks under the most horrible conditions.

Olga leaves nothing to the imagination. Here you will find the most graphic details of mans inhumanity to man. Naked roll calls while shivering for hours exposed to the elements, being examined everywhere when entering the camp, having all body hair clipped off, using the same bucket to eliminate in and eat from, the sex at the camp, the cruelness of the officers and of fellow campmates who were trying to save themselves, the things some women would do for a crust of bread, the smell of the camp, the beatings....Olga spares no detail.

It is not for the weak of stomach. You will feel the despair and wonder how man could ever be so cruel and pray that this never ever happens again.
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82 of 88 people found the following review helpful By Loscesq on October 18, 2005
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I actually stumbled upon this book because it was referenced in "A Death in Vienna" by Daniel Silva (his fictional spy novels involving a character Gabriel Allon mostly had a holocaust theme). After reading Five Chimneys there was no question in my mind why Albert Einstein praised this book as such an important work. Olga Lengyel's horrific and heartwrenching tale filled me in on so much I did not know about the Nazi death camps - including the fact that many people who were neither Jews nor minorities were sent there "just because." The book was very emotionally draining (especially when Lengyel talks about what happened to pregnant women and the babies they delivered) but the book left me completely changed. The unimaginable courage and hope that Lengyel and other prisoners conveyed was a tribute to the human spirit.

In our daily quest to get more money, drive a bigger car, buy a better house - we forget the reality of how little we really need to be human beings. This book will be required reading for my children when they are older. I am completely humbled and grateful to Ms. Lengyel for her ability to replicate such painful experiences into this book.
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51 of 56 people found the following review helpful By David A. Komessar on July 16, 2001
Format: Paperback
Having members of my family (two still alive) that survived Auschwitz this was a book that I felt I had to read. It is like many other books that I have read about the Holocaust but the first from strictly a women's account of Birkenau. It may be a difficult read for some because of the stark descriptions that exist. The story does not sugar-coat nor mince words. This is a true to life account as best as can be expressed. The book will compel the reader to pose questions of their own abilities to survive and withstand the horrors that the author did. This book is a fairly easy read and once you pick it up, it is hard to put down. We need books like this because the numbers of those who survived are becoming fewer and fewer and the words that they write are testimonials to TRUTH and must never ever be forgotten.
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