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Into That Darkness: An Examination of Conscience Paperback – January 12, 1983
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Sereny also interviews Jews who survived Treblinka by working in the "clothes factory," and she also interviews some of the S.S. guards who presided over this horrific complex. But the heart and soul of the book is Stangl, whom she interviewed while he was in a German prison in 1972. When she asked him, "When you saw children about to be gassed, did you think of your own children?" Stangl vacantly looked away and said mutely, "I don't know."
This book should be required reading for those who deny the Holocaust or seek to make excuses for Nazi genocide. Sereny is a masterful writer and every word of this book is gripping. This is not a product to skim haphazardly, it's as engrossing as anything ever written about genocide in the 20th century. I can't recommend this book highly enough.
First of all ignore the Nazis marketing; the stark red, black and white cover with the obligatory swastika and the obligatory gothic font; also ignore the obligatory Elie Wiesel imprimatur on the back cover. They tell you nothing of what is inside.
Ms. Sereny is primarily an interviewer; in her book "Into That Darkness" she produces a biography of Franz Stangl, Kommandant of the Triblinka extermination Camp in central Poland in 1943. For most of us he and his deathcamp rank at the bottom if not define human atrocity. Ms. Sereny talks to Stangl not a journalist or reporter but as a therapist, and for Stangl this is both the first time and the last time "I never talked to anyone like this"; he dies hours afterwards.
Her picture of Stangl is of a man struggling with his own past behavior, so conflicted in his inability to reconcile his personal concessions; he has developed into two men. One in continuous battle with the other, irreconcilable in their differences, both authors of the same criminal acts from inside one mind. We see both Herr Stangls parse, compartmentalize, excuse, avoid, dodge, stonewall and counter-accuse in a twisted effort to find a logic that will allow them to inhabit that one mind.
Just that Stangl is twisted in conflict at all means that there was in him a spark of recognition of both good and evil as separate things. Moral and immoral, criminal and civil, humane and inhumane; that spark of conscience still glows enough to allow a dim and tardy discrimination.Read more ›
Yet, even if you grant me the kindness of agreeing with my supposition, it still does not explain how such men as the individual profiled in this book, Herr Franz Stangl, the one-time commander of the death camp at Treblinka, could manage to swing his body out of bed every day for the decades since he was captured by the Allies and the war ended for him. His personal testimony shows once more how the subtle political use of language and the countless attempts to justify themselves through euphemistic references to the so-called "Jewish problem" seems to aid such individuals in playing a kind of psychological hide-and seek with themselves by aligning their actions with the purposes and goals of Germany during the war. And yet, quite poignantly the interview with Stangl also illustrates how vain and hopeless such efforts to blithely paper over the past really are. Somewhere in the darkness of one's own soul an individual knows all he is guilty of. Or so we would suppose.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
he wanted the best. Makes us see just how easy it is to be led into evil. And how one will die trying to
Justify it to himself and others.
A very important book delving into the steps that lead a seemingly upright and humanitarian man to become one who is instrumental in the killing of millions of people. Read morePublished 2 months ago by Faye McMurtry
Not as interesting as her work on Albert Speer, but Speer was a more interesting subject. Sereny is a good investigative journalist and fine writer.Published 3 months ago by The Lefty
Though dated there is some good information about Treblinka. However, the author had an axe to grind with the Catholic Church. Read morePublished 3 months ago by unhinged
This book is very well written. Open, honest, and I believe the author got more out of Stangl than anybody else could have. Read morePublished 4 months ago by A. Filippini
Although the book doesn't answer the question that gave birth to it, i.e. how is it that a perfectly ordinary and even in many respects a decent man becomes or allows himself to... Read morePublished 7 months ago by Galina I. Norkin
What makes this book horrifying is not because of the acts that were perpetrated specifically but rather that The horrifying acts were perpetrated by seemingly normal rational... Read morePublished 9 months ago by Yitzhak HaLevy