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I Cannot Forgive [Illustrated] [Paperback]

Rudolf Vrba , Alan Bestic
4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
Price: £15.81 & FREE Delivery in the UK. Details
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Book Description

19 Oct 1997
April 7, 1944 -- Alarm sirens announce the escape of two Slovak prisoners from a heavily-guarded camp in Nazi Germany. The escapees, Rudolf Vrba and Alfred Wetzler, succeed and flee more than one hundred miles to give the first graphic and exact descriptions of the operations at Auschwitz, which up to that point had only been heard about as unverifiable rumours. Their report, first punished in Swiss and then in the western press, made the reality of Nazi annihilation camps explicit and unequivocal to Pope Pius XII, Winston Churchill and Franklin D. Roosevelt.

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Product details

  • Paperback: 444 pages
  • Publisher: Regent College Publishing,US; illustrated edition edition (19 Oct 1997)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1573830968
  • ISBN-13: 978-1573830966
  • Product Dimensions: 15.2 x 2.5 x 22.9 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 65,798 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars An story for all mankind 15 Dec 2009
Format:Paperback
Rudi Vrba was the first prisoner to escape from Auschwitz to tell the outside world of its horrors. This is a extraordinary story by an extraordinary and yet very ordinary man of the truth of what went on. He describes without anger the terrible process that brought thousands of woman and children straight off the train and straight to the gas chambers. He misses nothing- and its these very simple observations that lend such an authority to his testament. The well dressed Jewess who ushers her children to the showers since they have not washed in days. The Balkan Jews. Tall, upright and powerfully built. The Gypsies and the Muslims all he makes testimony for without wavering, without anger or prejudice. 'Arbeit Macht Frei ' he describes as on the door of the main gate to the camp sears through the reader. Your emotions are assaulted by the piles of hair stacked neatly, the clothes and shoes all sorted by size. The horror of the gas chambers where the dying form a desperate pyramid of corpses struggling to stay their last breath.
His is a voice that can reach out to all, the authentic voice of dignified suffering. For the none believers, there are numerous photos of corpses, of the victims of medical experiments and other prisoners in utter wretchedness that should move the hearts of even the most hard hearted.
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Life Influencing 5 Dec 2011
Format:Paperback
It must be at least 30 years now since I read this book. Many of the details are somewhat foggy in my mind but the impression it left on me has lasted to this day and will no doubt continue to influence me. It was the first detailed account of the Holocaust I had ever read and it prompted me to learn more.

Having recently visited Auschwitz / Birkenau I was prompted to get hold of the book again as the story has become even more real to me. All I can say now is that in honour of those who died, not just Jews but gypsies opponents of the Nazis and many others, we should all resolve to oppose oppression wherever we may find it.
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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars As new. 5 Feb 2013
By tasha
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
A very good book. Unfortunately, I already had it , bought through its other title The book came ahead of time.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Amazon.com: 4.3 out of 5 stars  6 reviews
14 of 15 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars This Book Makes a Lasting Impression 7 May 2001
By A Customer - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
I read this book when I was a teenager in the sixties. It was my education in the Holocaust and the concentration camps of WWII Europe. The book made such an impact on me, I remember the title to this day. It's a story of courage and determination, and it's a wonderful example of the strength of the human spirit. It should be required reading.
11 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Holocaust brilliance..... 1 Jun 2001
By Dov B Yair - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
This book is undoubtably one of the best written books on the Holocaust and stands together with such masterpieces as Olga Lengyel's 'Five Chimneys' and Alicia Appleman-Jurman's 'Alicia, my story'. Vrba writes in a plain, informative, no holds barred fashion and describes in intense detail his escape from Slovakia to Hungary, the time at Novacky Camp in Slovakia and ultimately the time he spent in Auschwitz. His escape from Auschwitz together with Fred Wetzler is nothing short of a miracle. This book seems to have been forgotten and does not appear on the shelves in bookshops these days and it really should as one of the best testimonies from the era.
7 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Survival of the Fittest, With a Smile 3 Jan 2000
By Shmekel - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
Although a testimonial full of unbearable, vivid horror and suffering, it isn't this that makes Vber's book so gripping, and so important. What endures is his robust personality, his unbelievable physical tenacity, and, incredibly enough, his sense of humour. In short, his character. Life in the camps was capricious enough, but this book slaps you with the fact that only those with a great and unshakable optimism had any chance at all. And moral people? Forget it. Dead within hours. The survivors had to tread on bodies to stay afloat. Talk about natural selection.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An Invaluable Perspective of The Holocaust! 13 Nov 2013
By Timothy R. O'Hanlon - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
I read "I Cannot Forgive" when it first came out in 1964. Though the date of this reprint is 1997, though I searched repeatedly for it on Amazon, I did not find this re-issue until recently. According to a Wikipedia article, over 800 prisoners attempted to escape from Auschwitz and 144 succeeded. Rudolf Vrba and a fellow prisoner, Alfréd Wetzler were two of these. As far as I know, Vrba is the only one who wrote a book about about his (and Wetzler's) escape. If anyone who reads this review knows of any others, please let me know.

One might think that 800 escape attempts and 144 successes are a lot until one realizes that an estimated 1.5 million people were exterminated at Auschwitz. One cannot help but wonder why, considering the the threat of almost certain and often horrible death and the equally horrible living conditions, more attempts were not made. The punishment for attempting escape was death by starvation. However, other equally terrible punishments were regularly imposed for even minor infractions. This also brings up another question which has never been adequately answered -- how could so many Jews go to their deaths without putting up more of a fight? What makes Vrba and Wetzler or, for that matter the relatively small group of Jews who resisted the Nazis in the Warsaw Ghetto or those who rebelled in neighboring Birkenau Concentration Camp, different or special?

This book helped me to answer those questions and, until they are answered, we cannot fully understand how an Israeli descendant of one of the seven million victims of the Holocaust, when confronted with oppression and the almost constant threat of extinction, shouts "Never again!"

After reading one review of the 1964 edition of this book, I have to say that Vrba has been criticized and, in some cases, censured, for historical inaccuracies in "I Cannot Forgive". In January 1985 during a seven-week trial in Toronto of Holocaust denier Ernst Zundel, Zundel's lawyer accused accused Vrba of lying about his experiences in Auschwitz. He responded by saying that parts of his book were based on logical assumptions and sometimes second-hand accounts. As many historians and experts agree, these relatively minor discrepancies do not in any way justify calling Vrba's book a work of fiction!
5.0 out of 5 stars Worth the read even if somewhat inaccurate 13 July 2013
By Christian R. Smith - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Mass Market Paperback
I had occasion to visit Auschwitz in the summer 1965 at the age of 20. As so many people who have visited there will tell you, there may be other people there, but expect it to be quiet. The feelings and meditations you are likely to have there can overwhelm your ability to take in all the details. Just seeing a pile of empty Zykon B canisters can temporarily crash your hard drive, and you can come away with mental impressions rather than mental recordings.

I understand some of Vrba's details and chronologies may have been debunked, and before you cite as history details from this book you may want to do some research regarding historical accuracy.
You can check other commentaries here and Wikipedia for a start.
But, Vrba did escape Auschwitz (his fellow escapee also wrote some about the experience), and there is a lot of true history here also.

This book is much more historically real than for example the information in the books of Carlos Castaneda (which may still make interesting reading even though likely virtually fictional) giving accounts of dealings with Yaqui Indians and mescaline .

I have recently (and happily) discovered the writings of the French Quietist Francis Fenelon (1861-1715) and rediscovered related works of Jeanne Guyon (1648-1717). Their acceptance of many unpleasant things and events as gifts or assignments from God seemed to me to be in contrast with the Vrba quote you will find below. I had read Vrba long ago and purchased it recently, in large part to locate the following quote from the penultimate paragraph:

"I remembered reading: 'It is evil to assent actively or passively to evil as its instrument, as its observer or as its victim. . .'" (page 257 of the pictured book)

Personally, I still seek the balance between submission and assertion. Perhaps Ecclesiastes 3:1-8 has it. There is a time for every purpose. Ecclesiastes doesn't say it this way, but perhaps "a time to accept and a time to struggle".

I Cannot Forgive (a.k.a. Escape from Auschwitz) will give you some real history, though apparently mixed with a little fiction. Think Schindler's List but with a bit of historical inaccuracy along with the artistic license. If the stuff didn't happen exactly like that, stuff very very similar most likely did occur in conjunction with the zeitgeist. The book will increase your knowledge of the more consequential information about Auschwitz, and it could also save you the cost of several drops of eye moisturizer.
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