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Auschwitz [Paperback]

Debórah Dwork , Robert Jan Van Pelt
4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
RRP: £17.99
Price: £15.99 & FREE Delivery in the UK. Details
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Book Description

9 Jun 2006
How could an ordinary town become a site of such terror? Why was this particular town chosen? Who conceived, created and constructed the camp? This work reveals how an unremarkable Polish village was transformed into a killing field. Over 1,200,000 murders were committed at Auschwitz. Using architectural designs and planning documents discovered in Poland and Russia, and with over 200 illustrations, this book tells how the town became the epicentre of the "Final Solution".

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Product details

  • Paperback: 468 pages
  • Publisher: W. W. Norton & Company (9 Jun 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0393322912
  • ISBN-13: 978-0393322910
  • Product Dimensions: 3.3 x 17.4 x 23.3 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,090,881 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description

Review

A milestone in Holocaust literature. --Nechama Tee, author of Defiance: The Bielski Partisans"

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AUSCHWITZ USED TO BE AN ORDINARY TOWN. Read the first page
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Front Cover | Copyright | Table of Contents | Excerpt | Index | Back Cover
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Insightful use of architectural records 3 July 1999
By A Customer
Format:Paperback
This book skillfully combines a history of German influence in the East with a detailed look at the death and labor camps of Auschwitz. Using the architectural records left behind as well as statements of people who were there to outline the story, the authors trace the development and changes of the Auschwitz camps from 1939 to the present day. The skillful use of architectural plans provides insight into the changing purposes the camp adapted to in its short but terrible life. Also, the authors trace the German influence in the area back to the founding of the town in 1270 and relate the camp's shifting purpose to the territorial goals of the Germans in the East both before and during the war.
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Amazon.com: 4.0 out of 5 stars  7 reviews
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Insightful use of architectural records 3 July 1999
By A Customer - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
This book skillfully combines a history of German influence in the East with a detailed look at the death and labor camps of Auschwitz. Using the architectural records left behind as well as statements of people who were there to outline the story, the authors trace the development and changes of the Auschwitz camps from 1939 to the present day. The skillful use of architectural plans provides insight into the changing purposes the camp adapted to in its short but terrible life. Also, the authors trace the German influence in the area back to the founding of the town in 1270 and relate the camp's shifting purpose to the territorial goals of the Germans in the East both before and during the war.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Auschwitz, an ordinary town? 5 April 2004
By Michelle Baldesweiler - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
I felt that this book was an extremely interesting book that gave a different view on the transformation of the Polish town Auscwitz. The book explains how it was once an ordinary town that soon became one of the leading concentration camps in the Nazi era. The book explains the different stages the town went through from 1270 to the present. It was once a small Polish town, then a production site for gravel and sand, later an execution site, a place where Himmler wanted to build a farm communities, and then the answer to the "Jewish" question.
What I liked about this book was that it gave a mass amount of illustrations, ranging from pictures to graphs to building plans. This book also had some eye witness accounts from the view of the Jewish survivals, explaining what their feelings and reactions were during this time. The book is broken into two parts: Nostalgia and Fullfillment and Ambition and Perdition. The first part explains the history of the town and the second part starts off with the concentration camp. The Epilogue, "Owning and Disowning Auschwitz" I thought gave a quick and interesting view on the town today and what happend to it after the fall of the Nazi's. It briefly explains the problmes that arose afterwards and the concentration camp today.
After giving the history of Auschwitz,the authors end with a question that still haunts the Jewish people today, Why?
3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Less a Book than a Library about KZ Auschwitz 30 Oct 2009
By John M. Lane - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
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.
4 of 6 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Auschwitz, an ordinary town? 5 April 2004
By Michelle Baldesweiler - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
I felt that this book was an extremely interesting book that gave a different view on the transformation of the Polish town Auscwitz. The book explains how it was once an ordinary town that soon became one of the leading concentration camps in the Nazi era. The book explains the different stages the town went through from 1270 to the present. It was once a small Polish town, then a production site for gravel and sand, later an execution site, a place where Himmler wanted to build a farm communities, and then the answer to the "Jewish" question.
What I liked about this book was that it gave a mass amount of illustrations, ranging from pictures to graphs to building plans. This book also had some eye witness accounts from the view of the Jewish survivals, explaining what their feelings and reactions were during this time. The book is broken into two parts: Nostalgia and Fullfillment and Ambition and Perdition. The first part explains the history of the town and the second part starts off with the concentration camp. The Epilogue, "Owning and Disowning Auschwitz" I thought gave a quick and interesting view on the town today and what happend to it after the fall of the Nazi's. It briefly explains the problmes that arose afterwards and the concentration camp today.
After giving the history of Auschwitz,the authors end with a question that still haunts the Jewish people today, Why?
2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Medieval town to death camp to tourist spot: Auschwitz 22 Sep 1998
By A Customer - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
An in-depth study of a Polish town, infamous for the Nazi death camp. The authors place this dark history within the broad context of European history. The focus is of course the camp itself, and the terrible acts committed there, but the inclusion of the town's history certainly rounded out the story.
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