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The Last Nazi: Josef Schwammberger and the Nazi Past Hardcover – March, 1994

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

SS Sergeant Josef Schwammberger served as commandant of three slave-labor camps and was charged with the liquidation of the Jewish ghetto in the Polish city of Przemysl. After escaping from Allied custody in 1945, he fled to Argentina where he lived for 40 years before being recaptured (with major assistance from Nazi-hunter Simon Wiesenthal). In 1992, in a Stuttgart courtroom, he was confronted by several survivors of his brutality. The testimony, some of it reproduced here, presents in horrific detail a portrait of an implementer of the Final Solution, a man who developed an appetite for cruelty. Convicted of murdering 25 Jews, Schwammberger was sentenced to spend his remaining years in a German prison. Justice was served but the authors call the highly publicized trial "both an act of self-flagellation and an act of defiance. The unspoken message was: See? We have put ourselves through this once again. Now leave us alone." In Freiwald and Mendelsohn's stark and thought-provoking view, the "dirty family secret" of Germany's Nazi past is being dissolved by a creeping amnesia that increasingly tolerates neo-Nazi youth and those who deny that the gas chambers ever existed. Freiwald, a Pennsylvania journalist, and Mendelson, legal counsel for the Simon Wiesenthal Center in Washington, D.C., have made an important addition to Holocaust literature.
Copyright 1994 Reed Business Information, Inc.

From Library Journal

Journalist Freiwald and Simon Wiesenthal Center attorney Mendelsohn have written an absorbing account of the life of and search for Schwammberger, an SS officer in charge of three slave labor camps in southeastern Poland during World War II. The authors also trace the lives of several Jewish families who fell under Schwammberger's control, survived the Holocaust, and testified against the former SS officer after he was captured in 1987 in Argentina and extradited to Germany for trial. The book is also a thoughtful essay on the Holocaust and how we choose to confront its lessons and remember its victims. The authors use the case of Schwammberger to symbolize the ongoing struggle over the meaning of the Holocaust. This is an excellent study. For larger popular collections.
- Mark Weber, Kent State Univ. Lib., Ohio
Copyright 1994 Reed Business Information, Inc.
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 362 pages
  • Publisher: W W Norton & Co Inc; 1st edition (March 1994)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0393035034
  • ISBN-13: 978-0393035032
  • Product Dimensions: 1.2 x 6 x 8.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.4 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #3,087,589 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful By History Buff on November 14, 2002
Format: Hardcover
This book is wonderfully written, winding the story of a ruthless Nazi killer with survivors who he victimized. It gives a good amount of background such that this monster doesn't just appear out of the blue. It's truly seamless writing that is frankly a good story, even if it were used as a recreational read. Definitely worth buying for those interested in history, and who like a good story.
He covers the "making" of Schwammberger, his crimes, capture, and fascinatingly, his escape to South America. His years of living openly are so strange to those unfamiliar with the stories of groups like Odessa, or Project Paperclip. When entwined with the suffering of Holocaust victims, coming full circle to testify at Schwammberger's trial, offers a very well told account of some of the darkest times in history.
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