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Showing 1-10 of 1,284 reviews(Verified Purchases). See all 1,530 reviews
on April 16, 2016
I was surprised to find that I didn't know all the horror that was perpetrated by the Nazis. Though this is not a pleasant read I would seem it a necessary one lets we forget. I have more problem with the Forward by Bettelheim whose questions come close to blaming the Jews for the atrocities forced upon them. The questions leave me wondering if he was fully aware of the circumstances in which they found themselves. Why did they not arm themselves? Is he unaware that all guns were confiscated well before? Did he not realize that many were confined to places where they were not allowed to mingle with non-Jews. From whom were they to obtain farms? Given the secrecy that surrounded the camps, how could they have known where they were being taken? And once there, the conditions left them physically unable to fight the overwhelming force of the guards. I'm sorry but his hindsight is nothing short of ludicrous. I was left wondering how he could justify laying the blame at the feet of the Jewish community. If he read Dr. Muesli's writings he could not possibly have penned his most ridiculous Forward.
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on December 15, 2016
Initially, I decided against writing a review because it's too difficult to do so.
Where do I start...what do I say? This is not a story. It's an eyewitness account...a memoir. It's not the type of book that you can rate as 'good', 'mediocre' or 'weak' because it's not the kind of book you read for entertainment or enjoyment.
What are my five stars for? The courage to speak out and write this book, even though there are people who judge the doctor as detached/emotionless. First, we have to remember that the story was translated. Another thing to consider is, maybe this clinical approach was intentional so that the cold, hard facts (or as close to it as possible) could be captured and relayed to the world? Maybe the doctor did so as a coping mechanism...to preserve what was left of his sanity? Who knows. I don't know. I'm not a historian or an expert on these matters, nor am I in a position to say that the doctor was right or wrong.
We must be careful not to slip into the comfortable role of armchair critics as we read these almost unbelievable and horrific accounts from our 21st century perspectives. It's seventy plus years later, and as time passes, these atrocities will become even more distant.
So let this story stand as an important and chilling reminder of man's inhumanity to man.
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on March 24, 2016
“Auschwitz” is the account of a Jewish medical doctor who performed autopsies at the crematoria of Auschwitz at the behest of the infamous Dr. Mengele. It’s gut-wrenching reading. One is constantly reminded of the words of another famous Holocaust chronicler, Viktor Frankl, who said, “We who have come back, by the aid of many lucky chances or miracles - whatever one may choose to call them - we know: the best of us did not return.” That’s a sad fact with which Dr. Nyiszli had to live. Nyiszli lent his expertise to many despicable acts in the process of surviving, and it’s to his credit that he had the courage to write this work. He was the only one who could have told much of this story, and it’s a story that he felt the world must know--even if it meant rehashing the nightmare scenario of his life during the holocaust years, even if he was not always to be seen at his most virtuous.

While Nyiszli was a man of science who tried to stick to the objective task of conducting autopsies, his results were routinely perverted to support Nazi pseudo-science—the pseudo-science used by Nazis to justify elimination of the Jews and other despised classes of humanity. Nyiszli stayed alive first-and-foremost because Dr. Mengele valued Nyiszli’s expertise, and perhaps the credibility that expertise offered to the Nazi’s insane attempts to emulate science.

Sometimes by just answering basic scientific questions, Nyiszli was contributing to the advancement of dire atrocities. There’s no better example than when Mengele asked Nyiszli how one could obtain a skeleton from a corpse. These skeletons displayed deformities, and were thus to be sent to the Kaiser Wilhelm Institute for Anthropology, Human Heredity, and Eugenics to support the absurd assertion that Jews were genetically degrading. Of course, as Nyiszli points out the disease these two people were afflicted with was no less common among blond-haired, blue-eyed Aryans than it was among the Jewish people. At any rate this resulted in two corpses (made corpses by force, not nature) being boiled to remove the skeletons so they could be sent to an institute as pseudo-evidence.

Nyiszli’s forthcomingness is astounding. Nyiszli performed many objectionable actions at the behest of Mengele, but it’s clear he couldn’t have survived disobeying the Nazi doctor. However, there were also times when Nyiszli acted on his own in a way that was, arguably, detestable. After Auschwitz was abandoned, Nyiszli used his former position--and Mengele name-dropping)-to cut in line to get into an encampment (essentially a refugee camp) so he could get a shower and food for the night when others were left out in the cold.

I don’t mean to make Nyiszli look evil. He did many virtuous things in the process of surviving as well. This included sneaking medical supplies from the crematoria infirmary (where there was abundance) to barracks infirmaries (where there was a dire shortage.) He did his best to save those he could. It’s to Nyiszli’s credit that he shows us a complete picture. One expects such a book to be distorted when it comes to the author, but Nyiszli’s book seems honest.

This is an important book as it lets us peer into one of the darkest hours of humanity, and gaze upon a terribleness that would have been lost to posterity. The book gives a chilling account of what it must have been like to be in the gas chambers, told by someone who saw the aftermath in person. Nyiszli saw the piles of bodies reaching to the ceiling—dog piles in which the weakest were trapped on the bottom as the strongest tried to climb over women and children to get a gulp of good air. (Another proof of Frankl’s thesis.) Nyiszli also describes how one little girl, in a freak occurrence, managed to survive the chambers owing to an air pocket, only to have the SS finish the execution by cruder means.

I think everybody should read this book, but I’ll offer a warning that it’s not for the faint of heart. One has to keep righteous rage in check to just get through the book. However, to ignore this wicked moment in history is to fail to see the traps humanity is capable of falling into through simple refusal to do the right thing or a willingness to try to feel better about oneself by casting aspersions on those with slightly different physical features.
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on August 20, 2011
For years I have read books, watched movies and studied the reasons why so many people would just walk to their own death at the hands of the SS. So many Jews died because of "business as usual". After reading this book, I have found the answer. Perhaps now I can get over my obsession with that question. Bruno Bettelmeim who wrote the forward to this book has brilliantly answerd that question that evades so many of us.
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on June 12, 2016
I found this to be a difficult read, but not for the usual reasons when confronted with the horror of the Holocaust. This survivor had "a room" with a view of skies and sunlight. He had clothing, food, cigarettes, an occasional drink. He qualified these comparative luxuries by describing his sorrow at the suffering of others. But this doctor survived by assisting in atrocities against others caught along side him in the Nazi web of horror. I kept reminding myself to ask what lengths I might go to survive in order to continue reading his account. I wanted to feel sympathy for his experience, but he came across as self-serving rather than noble or humane.
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on July 9, 2016
Although rather clinical in a way, this book was chilling and disturbing. I would recommend it to people that are interested in stories about Nazi concentration camps, and Dr.Mengele. I hesitate to use the word enjoy because it sounds strange when writing about a book of this nature. But I did enjoy reading it because of my interest in the history and this was the first book I've read that gives details of daily living in Nazi death camps. If you are squeamish at all you wouldn't like this book. It is stark, brutal and horrifying to think that human beings did these things to other human beings. I believe it is our duty to inform ourselves about such things.
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on March 1, 2017
This is a heartbreaking book, but one everyone should read so as never to forget the horrors and atrocities that were committed by the Third Reich during WWII. It was a hard story to read, and at times I had to stop since I was sick to my stomach, or overcome with emotion in regards to the treatment of these poor people. All because they were Jewish or Gypsy or twins or crippled, etc. Because they were not aryan. Well written and believable. Read it and never forget!
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on June 1, 2016
I was aware of much of what he wrote about from other books. It has to have been awful trying to save yourself and your family, but having no control over anything, never knowing when the whim of an SS would cause your death or more suffering. To me this wasn't an in depth book, but after all he witnessed and had to participate in it may be all he was capable of at the time of writing and still remain whole. I always learn something from what I read never the less.
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on March 25, 2015
While my own Jewish ancestors were not affected by the Holocaust, Jews as a collective can't help but feel involved. And of course, I learned about it and saw the images of starved bodies, standing or piled up, in the camps. But it's nothing quite as jarring as an eyewitness account in disturbing detail such as this. The executions are described in explicit detail and there are moments you need to put this book down.

I know the author has exaggerated some numbers. But I'll give him the benefit of the doubt and assume that a traumatized mind will over-inflate the evil that befell it. One must keep in mind that with all the exaggerations, this happened. The processes and procedures of the killings and the encampments, happened, and their exact workings are described accurately, from how the gassing process worked, to how bodies were disposed of and their valuables looted. For the purpose of understanding the mass murder, numbers are irrelevant. 11 or 11 million people - what happened is the same, regardless of size.
The book also illustrates how people can be herded to their deaths like sheep.

This is not a read that everyone is ready for. This is the Holocaust, viewed from inside of Auschwitz. You either appreciate that fact, or you don't deprecate history by expecting it to be merciful on your soul, because the Holocaust was merciful on no one. No, this is not an eighth grade history assignment book. This book is trauma, and once you've read it, you can't go back.
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TOP 1000 REVIEWERon December 23, 2007
Dr. Miklos Nyiszli has written (1960) a graphic, gruesome, first-hand account of his time working as a doctor in the gas chambers of Auschwitz. Due to his previous medical training in medicine and pathology, Dr. Nyiszli was spared by the hideously inhuman Dr. Josef Mengele, to be the medical doctor to the Sonderkommando, the 600-plus Jewish prisioners who actually operated the creamatorium ovens which incinerated over 3,000 inmates a day. Dr. Nyiszli also became the chief pathologist for Dr. Mengele's infamous experiments on Jewish prisoners, performing disections and autopsies, all explained in great detail.

Dr. Nyiszli had permission from Dr. Mengele to travel through the camp, and therefore witnessed atrocities that are shock all sensibilities, and are sickening in the cruelty in which they were carried out. One wonders how the guards can kill in such a matter of fact manner, so many men, women, children, grandmothers, and grandfathers, without being emotionally devastated. He described the entire process of how the Jewish populations were induced to walk into the gas chambers without resistance. How they died a horrible death in the gas chambers, how their bodies were striped of hair and gold teeth, and then incinerated in non-stop 24 hour a day operation in the four ovens. When the gas chambers were overflowing with Jewish bodies, he writes of hundreds of others standing in line to be shot to death with a single bullet in the back of the head, then dumped into a long burning death pit, created for just such a purpose. He describes how a 16 year old girl miraculously survived being gassed in the chamber, only to be shot the next day. He describes how whole camps of upwards of 4,500 people were "liquidated" in one day. Dr. Nyiszli is continually stunned by the utter brutality of the German Nazis and the ultimate purpose of Auschwitz - to destroy the Jewish race and other "undesirables".

Since the Sonderkommando group of prisoners were themselves shot to death every 4 months to prevent anyone from telling the world what the Germans were doing in the camps, it is a miracle that Dr. Nyiszli survived to tell the atrocities of the death camp.

Fortunately for history, and for the lesson of man's inhumanity to man, we have Dr. Nyiszli's account to tell the world the truth about what happened in Hiltler's concentration camps. Although very disturbing to read, this is an important account that absolutely refutes modern-day revisionists who claim there was no holocaust, or that is was greatly exaggerated.

This book is not for young eyes. The descriptions of the deaths are too vivid. However, it is an important book for students of history and for any who need to be reminded of the incredible cruelty man is capable of. While sobering and horrific to read, I do recommend this book to those interested in the holocaust. It is one of the better books in the genre.

James Konedog Koenig
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