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Into that darkness: From mercy killing to mass murder Unknown Binding – 1974


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  • Unknown Binding
  • Publisher: Deutsch (1974)
  • ASIN: B0006DGOVK
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (24 customer reviews)

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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful By TomValley on 6 July 2011
Format: Paperback
For anyone interested in the WW2 Holocaust and the events involved in it , this book is a very large insight.
Apart from the main interview comments from the Camp Kommandant, in charge of both Treblinka and Sobibor Extermination Camps there are eye witness accounts from Train signalmen, to auxiliries attached to the network of the camps, to actual guards and
workers in the camps to survivors testimonies.
One can build up a picture of how helpless the victims really where in a system designed and planned to the slightest degree to get them speedily "up the chimney".
Remember these were not Concentration Camps like Auschwitz, where there was a slight chance one could be selected to work and had a very slight chance of survival -- these were Death camps --NO selection , everybofdy went into the gas chambers.
The Jewish workers here , under a 1,000, were long term workers who were to be exterminated at the end of the process. When all the Jews were dead.
From false station , to false Railway clock, to lovely tree lined passages, and flowers the Station lured the West European Jews into false ideas of a resettlement camp , needing to "shower" to start their new lives..To the other extreme for Eastern Jews , brutalised off the trains by whips, rifle butts (which often broke with the blows)and vivious dogs , on the run from the train to the gas chambers through barbed wire lioned narrow corridors.
The long wait naked in the freezing cold assembly areas when the gas chambers had a problem with the previous batch ahead of you, and you knew what was in store by this time. The most compelling book to put you actually there, in 1942, in a Poland Death Camp...
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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful By Paul on 28 Mar 2010
Format: Paperback
I found the title and author of this book whilst reading Escape From Sobibor (an excellent book by Richard Rashke).

I particularly wanted to read Into That Darkness as I felt it could help answer questions I have asked myself many many times. Just what was in the minds of the Nazi's who carried out some of the most horrific crimes beyond all comprehension. Did these murderers also have families and children themselves? What was it that drove them to such depths? Exactly what was in their minds when knowingly organising mass murder on such a massive scale?

Gitta Sereny held in depth interviews with Franz Stangl, a man who in the beginning was simply no more than a Police Officer but went on to become Camp Commandant of Sobibor and Treblinka, two of just five camps set up specifically for extermination. Sereny was the last person to interview Stangl as just nineteen hours after her she completed her last interview, he died.

Sereny first goes into the background of Stangl and takes him back to his childhood days. The evil Euthanasia programme he became involved in as a Police Officer which undoubtedly formed the foundation for the extermination camps. Later she moves on to discuss his family life in detail....his wife and children. Stangl's wife gave a great deal of help to Sereny and it becomes quite obvious that she deeply loved her husband. When Stangl was sent to organise Sobibor he told his wife he was involved in building and construction which, in part, was true. It was not until much later during a visit to see her husband that a drunk SS officer told her what was being done there.
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41 of 43 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on 6 Oct 1999
Format: Paperback
Sereny's contribution to the history of the holocaust is deeply disturbing, strangely unjudgemental and goes a long way to helping the reader understand how a human being like Stangl, with a relatively unremarkable background could take part in the most terrible crime in recent history. A harrowing and terrible is the revelation that Stangl had a lot in common with any of us. Would we be capable of the same thing if we were in his shoes? Ask yourself the old question: Is man inherently evil? Read it.
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22 of 23 people found the following review helpful By "shell-jane" on 30 Mar 2006
Format: Paperback
Gitta Sereny does a fantastic job here of transcribing her interviews with one of the key Nazi figures of Operation Reinhard. Franz Stangl held management positions in not one, but two of the three Nazi death camps, where all prisoners were killed within 24 hours of arrival, with the exception of a small number who were kept alive to maintain the camp (also destined for death when all the Jews had been killed, if they lasted that long!) Please remember here that thousands and thousands of men, women and children were murdered in these camps.
Franz Stangl was commended on his efficient work in the camps and that is what makes these interviews so compelling. Here is a unique opportunity to look into the mind of a true Nazi, initially a very ordinary, non-descript man, and his recollection and feelings on his 'work' during WWII.
The book is completely un-biased, leaving the reader to decide whether or not this man was evil, easily led or otherwise! The author does not shy away from difficult or painful questions, (such as how Stangl felt about the killing of children and babies). This book must be read. There are very interviews from the men in key positions in the death camps, and whether or not you believe all of Stangl's explanations, it does give you a compellable insight into the psyche of a Nazi.
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