Customer Reviews


129 Reviews
5 star:
 (93)
4 star:
 (26)
3 star:
 (10)
2 star:    (0)
1 star:    (0)
 
 
 
 
 
Average Customer Review
Share your thoughts with other customers
Create your own review
 
 

The most helpful favourable review
The most helpful critical review


21 of 21 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Season in Hell
This is an account of his time in Auschwitz by a man who in his former life had been a GP and also a specialist in forensic pathology. However, because of this expertise, Miklos Nyiszli, upon arrival at the death camp was chosen to help the infamous Dr Josef Mengele in his misbegotten biological `research'.

Nyiszli's medical background no doubt explains the...
Published on 5 Dec 2012 by Tony Floyd

versus
5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars 5* means "I love it" I didn't "love it" I recognised it's importance.
I can't give this book 5* because 5* means 'I love it' and I didn't 'love it' who could? I'd happily give 10* if Amazon had an appropriate rating system for this type of book. Shame on them.

Nyiszli was a forensic physician and, as such, was selected for work instead of immediate death. He worked as a doctor to the SS and had a role as pathologist examining the...
Published 23 months ago by JK


‹ Previous | 1 213 | Next ›
Most Helpful First | Newest First

21 of 21 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Season in Hell, 5 Dec 2012
By 
Tony Floyd "Travis Pickle" (UK) - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)    (REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Auschwitz: A Doctor's Eyewitness Account (Penguin Modern Classics) (Paperback)
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
This is an account of his time in Auschwitz by a man who in his former life had been a GP and also a specialist in forensic pathology. However, because of this expertise, Miklos Nyiszli, upon arrival at the death camp was chosen to help the infamous Dr Josef Mengele in his misbegotten biological `research'.

Nyiszli's medical background no doubt explains the concise and exact account of his time in the death camp, and his measured and controlled description of extermination. As he says in his opening declaration, "when I lived through these horrors...I was not a writer but a doctor. Today, in telling about them, I write not as a reporter but as doctor." From the selection process, where Mengele indicated whether those arriving at the camp were to be killed immediately or were to be used as slave labour for a few miserable months first, to the dispersal of the ashes, Nyiszli records every stage of the process meticulously and precisely. The book is all the more powerful for this approach, its careful enumeration of horror using the Nazis own predilection for methodical and systematic organisation to reflect their loathsome ideology unmercifully back on to them.

Only on rare occasions is there a breach in this neutral tone, where Nyiszli's contempt and loathing and repugnance are revealed, and the only words he can find are ones like 'evil' and 'diabolic' to describe human monsters like Molle, Mussfeld and most of all Mengele. Mengele he characterises as the `devil doctor' whose barbarity is best illustrated by Nyiszli disdainfully recording the fact that "the one place, the one environment my soft-brained superior really felt at home [was] the blazing glow of the pyres and the spiralling smoke of the crematorium stacks; the air heavy with the odor of burning bodies; the walls resounding with the screams of the damned and the metallic rattle of machine guns fired pointblank; it was to this that the demented doctor came for rest and relaxation after each selection, after each display of `fireworks'. This was where he spent all his free time; here in this man-made hell."

This edition also includes the Foreword by Bruno Bettelheim which accompanied the earlier publication of the book in 1960. This has now been relegated to an Afterword and a newer introduction is provided by historian Richard J Evans. As Evans explains, the original Foreword is now of historical interest in its own right, reflecting as it does Bettelheim's now discredited views, namely that only an inherent racial death wish could account for the compliance by European Jewry in its own destruction and his condemnation of the supposedly indefensible actions of the Sonderkommando, the Jewish prisoners who in exchange for being allowed to live a few months longer, in Bettelheim's view aided and abetted their own murderers. Bettelheim goes on to accuse Nyiszli of being "a participant, an accessory to the crimes of the SS" because he "worked as the assistant of a vicious criminal." Evans calmly rebuts this (wilfully?) bizarre misreading and misrepresentation of the circumstances.

Like John Hersey's Hiroshima, an equally slim volume that also says what it needs to say and no more, and which again contains enough horror to fill a library, Auschwitz; A Doctor's Eyewitness Account is an essential book.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Low key but very moving account, 22 Jun 2013
By 
Bacchus (Greater London - Surrey) - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)    (TOP 500 REVIEWER)   
This review is from: Auschwitz: A Doctor's Eyewitness Account (Penguin Modern Classics) (Paperback)
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
I must confess that I find the details of the Holocaust deeply disconcerting and until recently, I have avoided seeking details.

An industry has grown over the years to try to claim that much of what we know about this terrible episode from history is in fact a myth. In some ways I should be grateful for such scepticism because it has made me face up to and try to understand the events. I know far more than I really want to know about the Holocaust through reading first hand accounts and general history.

This account is very interesting. It was written by a doctor who was part of the transportation of Jews from Hungary which was sent to Auschwitz towards the end of the Second World War. He was fortunate that he was healthy and fit for work so that he was not sent for extermination the moment he arrived there. However, he was too valuable to the Nazis because he was skilled in pathology.of

Nyesli's skill as a pathologist kept him alive when all around him were eventually killed. He became Dr Mengele's assistant whose job it was to dissect the corpses to aid Mengele's research. This aspect of the Nazi regime is one about which I feel particularly squeamish and Nyesli gives a very straightforward account of his observations of Mengele's obsessive pursuit of proving the degeneracy of the Jewish race and the superiority of the Aryan race. He attests to Mengele's sadism and is unequivocal in his view that Mengele was practising a pseudo science. I learned much more about the actions of the Sonderkommando squads, Jewish prisoners who were required to do much of the extermination work before they themselves were rounded up and shot by submachine gun fire.

The descriptions of the various forms of mass killing are quite heart rending and sickening - more so because they are written with a medical objectivity.

This is a very important book which I am glad to have read.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Scary, 18 April 2013
By 
Dr. Delvis Memphistopheles "FIST" (London) - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)    (TOP 500 REVIEWER)   
This review is from: Auschwitz: A Doctor's Eyewitness Account (Penguin Modern Classics) (Paperback)
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
Details how science is used to bring about a certain sense of autism, where experimentation continued upon bodies regardless of the social conditions people inhabited. Eschewing the notions put forward by Rudy Virchow, the father of modern medicine, the Nazis reduced the body to a machine lacking emotions, a psychological project of their own identities. Inherently empty as people they sought to dissect the elixir of what it is to be human through cutting open to find the essence.

This is the same psychology as the serial killer, the person without human connection. This book written by a Doctor who was forced into the scheme details how he went through a process of disassocation to undertake the work.

The findings were sent back to Verschuer in Berlin who was not subject to the same opprobrium as Mengele. In fact Verschuer returned back to his eugenic work, not labelled as genetics back in the 1950's in West Germany. Many of the psychological behaviourist procedures detailed within this book are still apparent within psychology and medicine.

We are still governed by autistics wanting to seek out the genes of human life and patent them to make money. They have no sense of emotional connection and their psychological findings represent their autistic states of mind. Hence the modern malaise. This book lets you through the door to look into the states of being how inhabit these febrile concepts and should touch those who spark the human. Others however will just stare, shrug and think what is the fuss about.

Scary
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


72 of 80 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Horrific Eye Witness Account That Must Be Read!, 11 Oct 2001
By A Customer
I have always had an interest in the Holocaust, but until I read this book some fourteen years ago, it had always remained at a distance.
A reputable colleague at work handed me a copy of this book and said 'this is worth a read'.
Having begun, I could not put the book down. The book gripped me from start to finish. The story is horrific but, nevertheless, it is a story that we all owe it to ourselves to be familiar with.
The story and the author's experiences were so profound and penetrating that I have spent the last fourteen years studying and reading as much about the Holocaust as I can. I have visited the Concentration Camps at Treblinka, Majdanek, Auschwitz, Birkenau and Plaszov, together with other areas in Poland directly connected with the Jewish Holocaust.
I have seen the buildings full of human hair from the Jewish victims, the gas chambers, crematoria and the other hideous instruments of mass murder referred to in this book.
The book by Dr. Miklos Nyiszli will not take you long to finish. The voices of the victims referred to have long since disappeared. Many people today are not even aware of the Holocaust and others deny it's very existence.
Books like these, written by people who were actually there, are essential if our this and forthcoming generations are to be made aware of "man's inhumanity to man" and to prevent such a horror from occurring again.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Harrowing and truthful, 11 Jan 2013
By 
Sam Halverson (Gateshead, Tyne and Wear, England) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
Having read eyewitness accounts before, I expected some really horrific content here, and I was right.

A very clinical account, and a necessary read.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Worth Reading, 17 Nov 2012
By 
M. Dowden (London, UK) - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)    (HALL OF FAME REVIEWER)    (TOP 50 REVIEWER)   
This review is from: Auschwitz: A Doctor's Eyewitness Account (Penguin Modern Classics) (Paperback)
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
This memoir by Miklos Nyiszli was first published in English in 1960, but there has been an alteration made to that original text. Bruno Bettelheim's original foreword has now been placed at the back of the book as an afterword, and a new introduction by Richard J Evans takes its place at the front. If you are coming to this book for the first time then I would strongly urge you to read both of these, and even if you have read a previous edition I would recommend Evans' introduction which is excellent. Bettelheim's piece is if you read it quite controversial, but his ideas at the time were held in greater credence than in today's world.

In all, even taking in the introduction and the afterword this book is quite slim and is a relatively quick read. Nyiszli never had any pretensions about being a great writer and this is thus an easy read, he doesn't get fancy in his writing, just gives us what he thought and saw at the time. So who was Miklos Nyiszli? By the time he was interred in Auschwitz he was an established pathologist, and this ultimately led to him surviving to tell his tale. Being of use Josef Mengele took him under his wing and he became part of the Sonderkommando, those Jews who did the dirty work for the Germans, disposing of the bodies after gassing, etc.

I could go on about the harrowing life for Jews and others in the infamous death camp, but I know we already know all that, and I suspect some people get bored of books like this. Why this works is because in some ways it shows a different aspect of the camp and life. People tend to think of all the deaths of Jews, but as shown here with the extermination of the gypsies, others were also included. The place was rife with disease and starvation, and you had Mengele carrying out his infamous experiments, but at the same time it is worth being reminded that such a place was to a certain extent a town, with people working away at jobs, and even a 'black market' in place.

This isn't just about the Holocaust, but about how people manage to survive in such dreadful conditions, and how the pursuit of science can blur ethics and morals for some people. I always think it is ironic that Mengele had to go on the run and under cover to escape a War Crimes tribunal, but his Japanese counterpart, Shiro Ishii, who conducted awful experiments on people in Harbin on the Chinese mainland was given immunity from being tried for War Crimes by the US Government, due to his research being given to them and its implications with regard to biological warfare. Obviously it matters on what studies you do when you commit attrocities on how you will be treated at a later date.

After the war Miklos Nyiszli went from being a pathologist for Mengele to giving evidence at Nuremberg, after all he was a good witness after seeing what he had.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars 5* means "I love it" I didn't "love it" I recognised it's importance., 23 Jan 2013
By 
JK "J. K." (UK) - See all my reviews
(TOP 50 REVIEWER)    (VINE VOICE)   
This review is from: Auschwitz: A Doctor's Eyewitness Account (Penguin Modern Classics) (Paperback)
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
I can't give this book 5* because 5* means 'I love it' and I didn't 'love it' who could? I'd happily give 10* if Amazon had an appropriate rating system for this type of book. Shame on them.

Nyiszli was a forensic physician and, as such, was selected for work instead of immediate death. He worked as a doctor to the SS and had a role as pathologist examining the bodies of those murdered by Dr Mengele in his frenzied attempt to prove the superiority of the Aryan race. Nyiszli was in a unique position within the SS. Both loathed and necessary. He was given a huge amount of access to the camp and it's workings plus immediate contact with some of the most reviled creatures caught up in its admininstration; Dr. Mengele for example. His account is unique from that perspective and he offers great insight into the 'final solution' some aspects of which I hadn't considered.

I've read quite a few survivor accounts and found this one particularly disturbing as it was written by a doctor and his cold, scientific reporting style when dealing with medical examinations of murdered children was particularly harrowing. At the point when he drags a surviving child out of the gas chamber to revive her, care for her and then see her killed minutes later was almost too much to bear. We must never judge him. One of the cruelest aspects of the Nazi's was their ability to force human beings into situations of horrendous moral turmoil. We've never been in that situation and so we mustn't judge.

Short, compact book that takes little time to read but will remain in your heart for a long, long time.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


5.0 out of 5 stars Man's Inhumanity To Man, 17 May 2013
By 
Neutral "Phil" (UK) - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)   
This review is from: Auschwitz: A Doctor's Eyewitness Account (Penguin Modern Classics) (Paperback)
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
Miklos Nyiszli's account of his time as a doctor in Auschwitz is compulsive reading. Originally published in 1960 Nyiszli, who had died four years earlier, was criticised by Bruno Bettelheim, a prominent Freudian psychologist, as being an accessory to the crimes of the SS in order to live rather than make a principled stand and die like a man. Richard J Evans refutes the claim in his introduction stating that Nyiszli did not, 'volunteer to help Mengele....he was given no choice'. It was not the only point where Bettelheim, whose reputation as a scholar collapsed shortly after his suicide in 1990, was wrong. He implied Jews acquiesced in their own fate and 'it may have been Jewish acceptance, without retaliatory fight, of ever harsher discrimination and degradation that first gave the SS the idea that they could be gotten to the point where they would walk into the gas chambers on their own'. However, resistance meant death. When the twelfth Sonderkommando revolted and killed seventy SS, all eight hundred and fifty three prisoners of the kommando were executed, a price Bettelheim considered worth paying. He overlooked the fact that other units were also punished by having one in three members selected for execution in the tradition of the Roman military practice of decimation.

Nyiszli arrived at Auschwitz as a Jewish prisoner in 1944 and identified himself as a doctor. He was accepted in that capacity and ceased to be Nyiszli but KZ prisoner Number A 8405 and began work under the supervision of Dr Josef Mengele. He quickly learned Auschwitz was not a work camp 'but the largest extermination camp in the Third Reich'. He also learned of the notorious KZ roll call which lasted from 3 a.m. to 7 a.m. whatever the weather. The SS roll calls followed with the dead also physically present held up naked by two prisoners. He recalls that 'in the Auschwitz KZ the healthiest individual was given three to four weeks to collapse from hunger, filth, blows and inhuman labour'. Doctors working in the barracks-hospital did their best to practice their profession and care for the 'living-dead' with 'complete devotion' while lacking proper medicines and instruments. He noted the immense stack at the number one crematorium which worked on a continuous basis. He wrote, 'After all I had learned, I was not sorry to have acted boldly and tried to better my lot'.

Nyiszli was experienced in carrying out dissections, something which made him valuable to the Nazis. He took the opportunity to teach other doctors his skills, such as lumbar punctures, so they could also dissect dead bodies. He was transferred to the crematorium which was far better stocked than his previous work-place in the barracks. In addition to his laboratory and anatomical work he was responsible for the medical care of the crematorium's SS personnel and the Sonderkommando, an overall total of just under 1000 men. Answerable to Mengele alone he made a point of not rising from his desk or standing to attention when the SS came to visit. He was close to the crematorium where Jews were regularly executed at a rate of 3000 a time. The gas used to kill them was transported to the crematorium in vehicles disguised with the insignia of the Red Cross. After the killing the Sonderkommando had to disinfect the chamber before taking the bodies away for burning but not before hair had been removed and good teeth pulled. Nyiszli witnessed what happened because 'I felt it my duty to my people and to the entire world to be able to give an accurate account of what I had seen if ever, by some miraculous whim of fate, I should escape.'

Escape seemed highly unlikely. As they were witnesses to Nazi crimes the life expectancy of the Sonderkommandos was four months, after which time they would be executed and replaced by another group of prisoners performing the same work. This was in line with the unbridled cruelty at the camp where death was delivered on a daily basis. Mengele was particularly interested in experiments on twins and dwarfs. His purpose was to furnish the theory of the racial superiority of the Aryan race with empirical evidence and thus provide the means of breeding pure Germans in sufficient numbers to replace the Czechs, Hungarians and Poles who were living on territories deemed vital to the Third Reich. Nyiszli's reports were sent to the Institute of Biological, Racial and Evolutionary Research in Berlin. Nyiszli describes his dissections in the detached manner one would expect although this reviewer found it gruesome. What Nyiszli discovered made his knees tremble. Many were killed with an injection of chloroform to the heart. He made a point of not including this in his dissection report. He had no doubt that had Mengele known of Nyiszli's discovery he would have been murdered by the SS.

Mengele was psychotic, if not schizophrenic, showing kindness to children fully knowing he was going to send them to the gas chambers. By comparison the Heads of Crematoria in the Birkenau sub-camp, Otto Moll and Erich Muhsfeldt, were the epitome of evil. Nyiszli described the former as 'the Third Reich's most abject, diabolical and hardened assassin' at times throwing men live into the flames. There were occasional signs of humanity such as when Nyiszli successfully bribed an SS officer to move his wife and daughter from an extermination to a work camp. However, for much of the time it was all he could do to maintain his sanity resulting in him entrusting the dissections to associates while he took notes. Some of Nyiszli's comrades were killed by flame throwers. He and his trio of followers were spared only because they were considered indispensable. Eventually liberated in May 1945 and reunited with his wife and daughter Nyiszli swore he would never lift a scalpel again. An horrific story which must be read, lest we forget. Five stars.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A short, horrific read, 24 May 2013
This review is from: Auschwitz: A Doctor's Eyewitness Account (Penguin Modern Classics) (Paperback)
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
'Auschwitz' is an eyewitness account of a Hungarian Jew, Miklós Nyiszli, who was sent to Auschwitz along with his wife and daughter. Upon his arrival Nyiszli is separated into the 'able' where his training as a pathologist meant he became Dr. Mengele's assistant pathologist performing autopsies aiding Mengele's twisted research into twins, dwarfs and other subspecies that risked polluting the Aryan race.

What follows is a dispassionate and heartbreaking retelling of his experiences and the impossible positions the SS savagery put him. Does he confirm the diagnosis of typhus and condemn the death of thousands in a camp, or contradict the doctors, sparing the the ill for a little longer but condemning the doctors to death?

A difficult and horrific, but important read.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Extreme Human Nature?, 1 Feb 2013
By 
J. M. Green "john94682" (Sutton Coldfield) - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)    (REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Auschwitz: A Doctor's Eyewitness Account (Penguin Modern Classics) (Paperback)
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
This is not the "best" book (if "best" can indeed be the word to use) nor is it the "worst" (again, if that is the word to use) that I have read on the subject of the Nazi Final Solution. However, it is brief and very much to the point and brings into very sharp focus what man will do to man and man will do for man in the most extreme of circumstances.
Documenting the events from the moment Dr Nyszli disembarked from his cattlewagon on the Jewish ramp at the Auschwitz terminal, you find that through a sequence of "good" fortune (if good is the correct word) that this man manages to survive the death camp and indeed, goes on to survive the holocaust itself, although the road itself, from start to end, is full of dangers - the wrong word, the wrong nuance, even the wrong demeanour could have resulted in a bullet to the back of the head or the long walk down the ramp to the gas chambers and crematorium. Given the same circumstances what would YOU do is always coming into your mind whilst reading the detail within these 200 or so pages. Indeed, given similar circumstances, could the same thing happen all over? We think we are today, more civilised and that nothing like this could ever happen again, but the reality is that it could happen again unless we maintain our guard against racism. That said, our current world is no different in our prejudices than they were in my father's day and although in the army during the holocaust times, he did not see these horrors at first hand (but saw plenty of others) and he narrated to me on many occasions exactly how prejudicial society really was back then!
The Afterword is very much thought provoking too asking why millions would walk to their deaths without attempting to escape or indeed resist. Unlike Sonderkommando 12 who all died (and they would have in any case) but they did resist and apart from causing damage to the Auschwitz machinery, they took many of their tormentors with them!
Certainly this book is not for the faint of heart or indeed a pleasure to read but SHOULD be read as a warning from history of exactly what can happen when society breaks down.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


‹ Previous | 1 213 | Next ›
Most Helpful First | Newest First

This product

Auschwitz: A Doctor's Eyewitness Account (Penguin Modern Classics)
Auschwitz: A Doctor's Eyewitness Account (Penguin Modern Classics) by Miklos Nyiszli (Paperback - 25 Oct 2012)
£6.99
In stock
Add to basket Add to wishlist
Only search this product's reviews