I am very impressed by Professors Deborah Dwork and Robert Jan van Pelt and their book, AUSCHWITZ. Mine is the paperback edition by Norton and the book includes photographs, maps, graphs, charts and copies of original Nazi blueprints for crematoria (some of which included "corpse cellars" which the SS converted to gas chambers) many of which I've never seen before.
The book actually appears to me to be more of a library than a single, integrated narrative about an infamous Nazi concentration camp. It starts sedately enough with a cultural/historical examination of the town of Auschwitz from its medieval beginnings to World War II. I'm of East Prussian descent and found that more interesting than other readers might, however. The authors cover an immense amount of information about geology, geography, weather, other descriptive information. For me, that was a book in its own right.
As the authors close in the 20th century, they focus on Heinrich Himmler and his SS and the bureaucratic empires and ideological visions of "the German East" that influence Nazi policy. The authors do a good job of threading a very difficult needle and they include information which was new to me. I had never realized, for example, that Alfred Rosenberg was in a position to compete with Himmler and Goering for the Fuhrer's favor. This was great stuff, but it was like a second book insofar as I could see. The only fault I could find with the authors' analysis was that it seemed to minimize Hitler's role in the Holocaust. Perhaps the authors are "Functionalists"? I'm not, however, and I greatly prefer the more "Intentionalist" emphasis of Professor Richard J. Evans' THE THIRD REICH AT WAR or Professor Christopher R. Browning's ORDINARY MEN: RESERVE POLICE BATALION 101 AND THE FINAL SOLUTION IN POLAND.
The authors then move into what looks to me like a third book summarizing that period of its history during which KZ Auschwitz emerged as the central killing ground for Hitler's murderous Reich. The authors show how abandoned cottages were transferred into gas chambers while new, larger crematoria were being constructed (mostly in Birkenau 2 or 3 miles away) and pressed into service by the SS. You learn the names of the SS architects who adapted the "morgue cellars" in these new crematoria into gas chambers. "Corpse chutes" were transformed into stairways so the condemned to descend into the gas chambers under their own power. Some of the big, new crematoria encountered teething problems. The chimney liner cracked in one while another caught fire due to sub-standard wiring. You can even learn which civilian contractors installed these defective parts and how the SS architects and engineers remedied them. It's amazing and ghastly.
It's also a major contribution to the field of Holocaust Studies. If you're interested in WW II, the Nazi Holocaust, or the history of Upper Silesia, you absolutely must have this book. It's a bit like a library in one volume and it's not perfect, but it's the best thing I've seen on KZ Auschwitz. That's why I gave it five stars.