High school world history classes should include books like Ian Baxter's AUSCHWITZ DEATH CAMP in their curriculum. It's a graphic reminder of how bestial a nation can become. Auschwitz, Nazi Germany's most famous concentration camp, was the scene of over a million murders of helpless men, women and children. As depicted in Ian Baxter's 2009 book, genocide was a matter of routine at Auschwitz, strictly a matter of design, construction, scheduling, disposal, etc.
Work on Auschwitz began in 1940. Although termed a concentration camp, it was, in fact, never planned to house and maintain Germany's undesirables there but to exterminate them. Over the years the original site and its installations were developed, expanded and 'refined' to make mass murder easier to accomplish. It ultimately consisted of three main camps and 45 satellite sites. Amazingly enough, the dedicated SS staff continued murdering until shortly before Russian troops liberated the camp in January 1945. Approximately 1.1 million people died at Auchwitz, either through gassing, executions, starvation, forced labor or medical experiments. Its first commander, Rudolf Hoss, was hanged in 1947 for crimes against humanity. Hopefully all the people who staffed the camps will be reunited with him in hell.
Baxter does a good job of detailing the creation of Auschwitz and its physical growth over the war years. The book includes many photographs, illustrations and diagrams showing the camp in all its glory along with the men and women who ran it. It's mindblowing to see shots of various Auschwitz SS staff socializing, picnicking, having sing-alongs, etc. and then view page after page of frightened men, women and children arriving at the camp, being divided into 'live' or 'die' groups, etc. Baxter's well-done narrative touches upon how the Germans experimented on more effective methods of mass murder so that it wouldn't upset the SS staff(!) but he never touches upon how those people managed to sleep at night.
I would have rated AUSCHWITZ DEATH CAMP higher but for one problem. The book features 226 pictures. Only five out of the 226 depict corpses. Given that Auschwitz's death toll topped one million, more photographs - including more graphic shots - should have been included to show the true horror that took place in southern Poland from 1940 to 1945.
All in all, AUSCHWITZ DEATH CAMP is a comprehensive, fairly well-illustrated summary of Nazi Germany's largest death camp. However, I felt Baxter pulled his punches in not showing the horrible butcher's bill rung up by Hoss and the other good Germans who ran the hellish camp. Recommended.