In the annals of holocaust literature, this is one of the more unflinching collection of death camp stories, as it depicts the stark reality of the desperate situation of those ensconced in concentration camps, where the final solution was frantically put into play. The stories are of the unimaginable and the nearly unendurable, replete with the inherent pathos of the situation of the truly desperate. It is shows the desensitization that takes place in order for one to survive the horrors of a death camp. It is an unapologetic dissertation of what camp life was truly like for those for whom surviving was the bottom line. It also shows how the Jewish people were clearly singled out for mass extermination.
The author himself survived two death camps, Auschwitz and Dachau, where he had been imprisoned from 1943 to 1945, as a young man in his early twenties. Born in the Ukraine in 1922 to Polish parents who spent time in Siberian labor camps, the author was no stranger to hardship. Yet, he was little prepared for man's inhumanity to man. His time in the death camps was to form an indelible impression on him, resulting in this collection of stories, which chronicle man's inhumanity to man. It shows how camp culture made all those within its sphere participants in its reign of terror and in the final solution. In the end, having survived the unimaginable, the author committed suicide in 1951, choosing to gas himself to death. The irony inherent in his choice of death is not lost upon the discerning reader.