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Death Dealer: The Memoirs of the SS Kommandant at Auschwitz Paperback – 1 Mar 1996


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Product details

  • Paperback: 414 pages
  • Publisher: DaCapo Press; 1st Da Capo Press Ed edition (1 Mar 1996)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0306806983
  • ISBN-13: 978-0306806988
  • Product Dimensions: 15.2 x 2.6 x 22.9 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (9 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 141,151 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
  • See Complete Table of Contents

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In the summer of 1941. Read the first page
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17 of 19 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on 28 April 1998
Format: Paperback
I have read many books about Nazis and the holocaust, but this one is unique in that it is one of the few written in graphic detail by an SS man himself. I think Hoess definitely had qualms about his role, but was too much of a bureaucrat to openly challenge the regime. His credibility has been doubted, since he was often inconsistent about the number of deaths while at Auschwitz. I don't think Hoess was personally a cruel man; he seemed to have taken a dispassionate role in his work. He did emphasize, before his execution, that he still considered himself a National Socialist, and acknowledged his guilt for taking part in the Final Solution. Hoess seemed to place all the blame on Himmler. Hoess, in the first third of the book, wanted to portray himself as a normal, decent family man who simply ended up in the wrong place at the wrong time. In short, this book conveyed a very powerful message and warning, despite some of the irrelevant personal details about Hoess's life. Especially interesting are the profiles of various SS members at the end of the book.
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful By lexo1941 on 17 Nov 2008
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
The great majority of personal testimonies of the Holocaust have been written by people who were victims of it, and while all of it is fascinating, horrifying and essential reading, it must be admitted that not all of it is of the same literary quality. In general, the more truthful and better-written they are, the harsher and more disturbing they are likely to be, and the less likely they are to provide us with easy platitudes about the survival of the human spirit, or instructive little parables about saintly fools. This is why Primo Levi's books are, to my mind, far superior to Victor Frankl's "Man's Search for Meaning", or even the works of Elie Wiesel.

Nevertheless, all Holocaust testimony should be available to us and it should all be read. There is, of course, another kind of Holocaust writing that is for obvious reasons less popular with the reading public, but which is still of crucial importance: that which was written by people who perpetrated the crimes. Most people would prefer to read about what it's like to undergo terrible experiences, than read about what it's like to inflict them. The trouble is that most of us in comfortable, relatively prosperous countries seldom have to undergo terrible experiences. We are more often in the position of allowing them to go on in our name, and with our tacit consent.

Most of the chief culprits of the Holocaust were dead or disappeared by the end of the war, but there is a still a very large amount of information written by former Nazi functionaries which is of considerable importance. The most substantial and important mass of material by a single person, other than trial evidence, is probably the written testimony of former Auschwitz camp commandant Rudolf Höss, all of which is collected in this book.
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24 of 28 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on 25 July 1999
Format: Paperback
Hoess reveals how a family man who loved horses could himself survive in charge of the Auschwitz complex. Is an authentic read as Hoess blunders here and there with a faulty memory and shows self doubt as the date of his execution nears. Holocaust deniers will find no comfort in the book, although it has to be said that Hoess left the camp in 1943 and that prison memoirs are always suspect to some degree. Hoess seems to have realized all along that a death sentence was certain. The argument that he admitted mass gassings in an attempt to obtain a lighter sentence is unlikely. But you have to read the book to get a feel for this particular nazi whose only aim was to please Berlin.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Bernie Weisz on 26 July 2011
Format: Paperback
This is a memoir that exemplifies the true meaning of a sociopath, a man who kills without conscience. Rudolf Hoess was history's greatest mass murderer, the architect and SS Commandant of the largest killing center ever created, the death camp of "Auschwitz" (located in Poland), whose name has come to symbolize humanity's ultimate, abject descent into evil. Responsible for exterminating over 2.5 million people (primarily Jews, as well as Gypsies, Homosexuals, and Russians), he was a mild-mannered, happily married man who enjoyed normal family life with his five children despite his view of the crematorium chimney stacks from his bedroom window. Serial Killers: The Methods and Madness of Monsters At peak efficiency, Auschwitz had the capacity to murder 10,000 people in 24 hours, as Hoess would testify during the War Crimes trials at Nuremburg after World War II. Witness after witness, as well as mass documents produced irrefutable evidence of the crimes committed, and no witness was more shocking than Rudolf Hoess, who calmly elucidated how he had come to exterminate 2.5 million people. He further expounds upon this in "Commandant of Auschwitz".

Rudolf Franz Hoess was born in 1900 and joined Adolf Hitler's Gestapo (the "SS") in 1933. In 1934 he was attached to the SS at Dachau. Then, on August 1st, 1938, he was adjutant of the Sachsenhausen Concentration Camp until his appointment as Commandant of the newly built camp at Auschwitz in early 1940. This was located near the provincial Polish town of Oshweicim in Galacia. In May, 1941 the SS Commander Heinrich Himmler explained to Hoess that Adolf Hitler had given the orders for the final solution for the Jewish question.
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