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53 of 54 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Fantastic compelling read
"Auschwitz, The Nazi's and the Final Solution" is the most informative and reliable book I have read on Auschwitz, giving detailed accounts of what "life" was like in the camp, how they were transported there and interviews with both SS guards and surviving victims. It's ironic how the majority of the SS guards still feel that it was right what they did because they were...
Published on 3 Mar. 2005 by mynamesstevewhite

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17 of 24 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Good but superficial and annoying
It's a good general 'dorito' history, which needed to be done. But this is the work of a rather self-regarding TV producer not the work of a committed historian, and I encourage people to buy Noakes and Pridham vol. 3 instead. They cover more ground in fewer pages and are more readable since they dont feel the need to interrupt the historical account with...
Published on 20 Feb. 2006 by Ariel Bethlen


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53 of 54 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Fantastic compelling read, 3 Mar. 2005
"Auschwitz, The Nazi's and the Final Solution" is the most informative and reliable book I have read on Auschwitz, giving detailed accounts of what "life" was like in the camp, how they were transported there and interviews with both SS guards and surviving victims. It's ironic how the majority of the SS guards still feel that it was right what they did because they were totally behind it yet they claim to only be involved because they were made to follow orders.
This book excels when reading interviews from the survivors because it is there that we are able to discover the real horrors and read about some of the atrocities that went on inside which leave a profound sadnes of the reader. What's so bad is that this was able to happen and the fact that it is not that long ago, many people have had this happen in their lifetime. Luckily there are not just horror stories in the book and there is a lot of detail on transportation and relations between countries. There are many figures available although they may not be totally accurate because of the nature of the event.
Buy this book if you are wanting to find out about the camp, the Holocaust, the human mind and what drives us to evil and some opinions from people who were actually there. Well done to Laurence Rees on this spectacular, obsessive read!
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54 of 56 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A book which admirably complements the DVD, 11 Feb. 2005
By 
Budge Burgess (Troon, Scotland) - See all my reviews
The book which parallels the BBC television series on Auschwitz ... and one which can most effectively be read in conjunction with a viewing of the series (either on television or DVD). The BBC has developed considerable skill in combining scholarly but accessible written and visual history, and this is no exception.
For the most part, Rees' book is highly accessible, especially given the emotional volatility of his subject matter. He achieves a laudable degree of balance and objectivity, avoiding the urge to be judgemental. Present the facts - the reader is well capable of making his/her own judgement.
The central theme is that Auschwitz was not simply a death camp. It was conceived as an industrial complex, as a profit-making concern which would wring the maximum work from a force of slave labourers. German industry profited from it ... and, in due course, the complex that was Auschwitz would be run on industrial principles as its managers created a production line of death.
Mass murder, here, was a process. Over a million would be murdered in Auschwitz, but the thousands of people who contributed to its operation were, for the main, 'ordinary' people. The writer Hannah Arendt commented that she attended the trial of Adolf Eichmann, the German officer in charge of the final solution: she had expected to look into the face of evil; instead, she found herself facing an innocuous, petty bourgeois, bald, insignificant old man, devoutly sticking to the mantra that he had only been following orders and couldn't be held responsible. [ See Hannah Arendt, "Eichmann in Jerusalem: A Report on the Banality of Evil".]
Rees demonstrates that the thousands of bureaucrats, workers, even the guards, were simple jobsworths who rubber stamped murder and treated genocide as a matter of double-entry accounting. The victims were a commodity to be processed, stripped of their dignity, stripped of their humanity, sent to their death packed into cattle wagons. It was a job. How many this week? Evil is not a matter of consciously deciding to commit some horrific act or uphold an abominable philosophy: evil is simply ordinary people not questioning, not objecting ... because they are too scared, too greedy, too busy, or so corrupted that they accept that someone else is no longer to be regarded as human, someone else deserves their fate.
The commandant of Auschwitz, Rudolf Höss, was an ambitious Nazi functionary whose business management skills were devoted to the task of making the executions more efficient and cost-effective - finding better, less costly ways to kill in numbers and then dispose of the bodies.
The great evil here is the blind conviction that the individual can abdicate responsibility, that s/he is only following orders. Even Jews collaborated in murdering others. What is most disturbing about the 60th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz is that genocide is still occurring - it is only a matter of years since it last flared up in Europe in the former Yugoslavia. And when Rees analyses the way the Jews were made less than human in the decades before the outbreak of World War 2, it's worth considering how readily we can all demonise and dehumanise others because of their religion, race, nationality, or whatever.
Laurence Rees offers a thoroughly researched account of the building and role of Auschwitz, made all the more vivid by the wealth of first hand accounts he includes. It seems that half of Britain's teenagers have never heard of Auschwitz. Rees demonstrates precisely why it is vital everyone is reminded of the name - it is only too easy to find yourself acting as a jobsworth, turning a blind eye to this or that. Chilling, disturbing, but essential reading. [For the interested, I'd also recommend Primo Levi's "If This Is a Man", the account of a survivor, and Deborah Dwork's "Auschwitz", where she dissects how the town became the centre of death.]
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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Thought-provoking, 8 Nov. 2005
By 
O. Doyle "celticshedevil" (Ireland) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
For me the name Auschwitz conjures up images of torture, human suffering and horror quicker than any other word in the dictionary. It is probably the most famous 'facility' of the Second World War and this book gives an indept look at how Auschwitz came about and its part in 'The Final Solution'. Beginning in 1942, the camp became the site of the greatest mass murder in the history of humanity and the most disturbing aspect of the entire book is the attitude of those in charge who never showed any remorse for their actions.
This is a book which should be read by everyone in the hope that such a travesty should never happen again.
I gave the book 4 stars because I found the editing of the book infuriating.....some sentences were repeated, some finished mid-sentence. Not many.....but enough to annoy me! Don't let this stop you buying it though!
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars SIMPLY BRILLIANT..., 19 Jun. 2008
By 
Lawyeraau (Balmoral Castle) - See all my reviews
(HALL OF FAME REVIEWER)    (TOP 1000 REVIEWER)   
This review is from: Auschwitz : The Nazis & The 'Final Solution' (Paperback)
When one thinks of the labor and death camps instituted by the Nazis during World War II, the notorious concentration camp at Auschwitz comes immediately to mind. One cannot help but wonder what kind of mindset would devise such an infamy. How could Germany, a nation that was noted for its richness of culture, have devised a plan of genocide that was so far reaching and so inherently evil?

The author attempts to answer that question and succeeds in doing so brilliantly. This is a very well-written book that will appeal to those who are interested in the general human condition, as well as those interested in the holocaust itself. It is scholarly, yet, at the same time, immensely readable. This is because the author has put a very human face on the dreaded death camp of Auschwitz. The stories and experiences of more than a hundred people are integrated throughout the narrative, which delves into the historical backdrop of the Nazi political machinery and its leadership. Survivors of Auschwitz, as well as Nazi perpetrators, tell of their experiences in the hell that was known as Auschwitz, and they tell it from their own unique perspectives. The symbiosis that often existed between prisoner and prison guard is quite unsettling, as are the attendant moral and ethical issues.

The author attempts to help the reader understand how it was that the "final solution" came about. It is an unsentimental, intellectually objective, critical analysis of one of the most infamous episodes in modern history and warfare. The author carefully delineates how the Nazis developed their reprehensible strategy for global genocide, and how it came about being implemented. The creation of Auschwitz was crucial to the Nazis' desire to rid itself of Europe's Jewish population but, however, that desire may not have been entirely ideologically driven. From his extensive research, the author postulates that there may have been a practical, more pragmatic component that dictated the actions of the Nazis in the final, waning days of World War II that was no less immoral than the ideological one.

This is simply a stunning and authoritative book by an author whose expertise in this area is undeniable. It is a comprehensive and insightful look at one of the most notorious death camps in the history of Nazi Germany. The author carefully explains the rise and fall of Auschwitz within the context of the Nazi mentality and ideology, as well as within the broader context of historical and military pragmatism. It is a devastating portrait, indeed, and with its sixteen pages of vintage black and white photographs, it is a book that will keep the reader riveted to its pages until the very last one is turned. Bravo!
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93 of 98 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Important and impressive., 22 Jan. 2005
By 
Paul Moody "V" (Lands End) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
Rees' book AUSCHWITZ THE NAZIS & THE FINAL SOLUTION is written in a style that presupposes no in-depth awareness of this subject in a reader. His writing style is comfortable (unlike the subject) and highly readable. These are important factors for any reader when Rees analyses or describes the ideology, application and context of and behind the Final Solution. This is not a book which solely focuses upon Auschwitz, rather it has 4 major strands: (1)The development of racism into an ideology of removal/containment and finally a state killing process of civilians and prisoners of war, (2) Auschwitz the institution: its development, running, maintenance and changing functions, (3) personal testimony from those imprisoned and also from members of the SS or killing squads and (4) the role and acknowledgement of foreign governments and political figures (including the Germans) in the participation (active or passive) or resistance to this process of annihilation.
In this book Rees does not shy away from difficult questions which he poses throughout the book on either side of this horrific divide. His manner is even and balanced and in the course of posing questions he also attempts to provide responses to and interpretations of possible answers. Ironically, suggested answers to some questions posed show a coalescence between oppressor and victim; here I am specifically referring to how Rees describes, using personal testimony, that the camp experience made changes to the behaviour and the essential character of individuals. One survivor describes human beings as really not knowing themselves in ordinary life. This knowing he refers to can manifest itself under extremity into a terrifying awfulness translated into action.
There are generalised descriptions associated with Nazi policy and the occupation of countries down to the most intimate and harrowing descriptions of survivors. In representing these personal accounts Rees allows the witness to speak for him or herself. Their accounts need no interpretation or supporting statement. Without drama or embellishment, the witnesses describe facts of their lives: appalling and degrading in some cases which seem to wholly support Elie Wiesel's description of the camp as arriving at 'planet Auschwitz.'
What does this book contribute to the large amount of textual, photographic, documentary or cinematic information on the subject of the Holocaust? I am not sure I agree with Ian Kershaw's description that "Rees casts new light on how Auschwitz was created and developed..." We knew before this book was written how the camp was created and how its function developed. I consider the merit of this book is to be a distillation of these facts into a single text supported by personal testimony (much of which is new) and set against the backdrop of a criminal ideology in time of war. By skilful use of previously published material, Rees allows a reader access to the camp commandant Hoess. There is no painting of a 'monster' here the monstrosity of Auschwitz is in the banal detail of its daily function; almost as if it was a bona fide organisation or processing plant. Hoess remained committed to the principle of the rightness of the Final Solution until the end. Discharged at one time from his post as commandant, he was eager to be returned in order to continue his work. He was not an uncontrollable sadist, crazed and unreasonable. Hoess believed. Believed in the ideology, and was not simply 'following orders.' Therefore, to view Jews as a danger and threat to security and the health of the Reich requiring extermination was not a personal crusade, it was an ideological imperative to which he subscribed. Rees makes an extremely interesting comparison (on page 172) between a survivor's faith in God and Hoess' ideological position and 'belief' in National Socialism. As Rees points out we should be very careful not to make a glib or crude comparison, certainly as the survivor in the story uses her belief to commit acts of compassion and care (unlike the SS). However, the point is made to demonstrate Hoess' state of mind throughout and his commitment to these horrors committed.
It is painful and distressing for a reader so far away from this experience to read the pages of this important book. Auschwitz was not the only factory of death, but due to its size, the numbers murdered and that it stands today, it is a symbol and focus of the Final Solution for much of the world. Ultimately Auschwitz is beyond words or description. We, thankfully outside of the experience, shall never really know its hell.
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11 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars I come from..., 3 Aug. 2006
By 
I come from Poland, where the holocaust theme has always been deeply analyzed, where children in their early teens learn about Hitler, Nazis and The Final Solution. I have read many books about WWII, but mr. Rees is a man of great knowledge and his books are just so readable. A very good source of information, and a fascinating story teller.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The evil within, 11 Dec. 2010
By 
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This review is from: Auschwitz : The Nazis & The 'Final Solution' (Paperback)
I have just returned from a visit to Krakow (Southern Poland) and whilst I was there I visited Auschwitz, the most notorious of the Nazi death camps. The sun was shining and it was very difficult to get my head round the fact that the site was the location of the biggest mass murder in history. The guide was informative but as I wandered round the camp and saw the evidence of this uncomprehensible crime I was left with the burning desire to learn more.

Over the years I have watched quite a few tv programmes on the Holocaust and I have read a number of books. However, Laurence Rees's book on Auschwitz was unputdownable although not an easy book to read by any means. That ordinary human beings could behave in the cruel way that the Nazi's behaved is a subject which enthralls me and the book forced me to question what I would have done if I had been a German at the time of the Holocaust. This book is extremely well researched and Rees has interviewed victims and persecutors and left the reader to make up his own mind. I am at a loss to understand how evil human beings can be in given circumstances. Rees also tells us of extraordinary people who survived the camp despite living conditions which killed almost everyone around them. The way in which prisoners were forced to work in Labour camps is described in detail as is the way in which prisoners were forced to work in the gas chambers until they themselves were sent to their deaths. No details are spared and it is not an easy read.

The history of the camp is important as Rees describes how it was not built to be a death camp but as a small camp for Polish prisoners of war and how historical events caused it to become the place most identified with the Holocaust. The Nazis built the neighbouring camp at Birkenau and this is where up to 10,000 (ten thousand!!!!!) people a day were gassed to death. Most of the victims simply arrived by rail and went straight to their deaths. It was a killing factory and you do not need me to go over the dreadful way in which the Nazi's made use of everything from human hair to gold teeth. Besides Auschwitz, Rees also describes the camps at Treblinka, Chelmno, Belzek, Bergen Belsen and so on. We learn about the appalling treatment of the Jews but also to a lesseer degree about the treatment of homosexuals, gypsies, jehovah's witnesses and so on. We also learn of the chief Nazis, their backgrounds and how many of them went from ordinary jobs to overseeing the deaths of thousands of people. We also learn of their conduct after the war and of the fate of some of them.

Some of the events described in this book are completely sickening but I think it is important for people to understand what happened at Auschwitz, throughout Poland and in other areas of Europe at that time. I learned so much from this book. It is a real education. Of course when I finished the book I was able to reassure myself that such evil and heinous crimes could never happen again. They couldn't be repeated or could they?!!!!!
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A very interesting read, 12 Jun. 2006
By 
Sarah (Southampton, UK) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Auschwitz : The Nazis & The 'Final Solution' (Paperback)
Now I am in complete defence of this book, because not only is it a mountain of information about not only Auschwitz but cultural, societal and economic circumstances surrounding it. Its easy to read and Rees explains himself clearly in a way that even those fairly new to Holocaust related materials will find comprehendable. I would recommend this book as it is definitly value for money and gives a great indepth overview of Auschwitz and its position within Nazism. :)
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars No Justice, 21 Nov. 2009
By 
G. Murphy (Leeds) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Auschwitz : The Nazis & The 'Final Solution' (Paperback)
I'd seen the photos & images over the years and finally went to Auschwitz this September. It was a nice summer's day with hundreds of tourists milling around so even then the true horror of the place didn't hit home. However I wanted to learn more. This book was perfect in putting Auschwitz into context with the atrocities of WWII and the ambition of the Nazi's to create a master race. Guilt should be felt worldwide by all nations that turned a blind eye and collaborated with the persecution and killing of the Jews, Gypsies and other people that didn't meet the Nazi ideal. The creation of a factory managed by the SS for killing people they despised, considered of no 'use' and a 'waste of valuable space' in occupied territories is mind boggling. The fact that the SS used Jewish labour to shepherd the victims into the gas chambers and dispose of the bodies afterwards was unbelievable but typical of Nazi efficiency and of not wanting to get their hands dirty. Even after liberation there was no justice for the Jews as the Soviet Union were comparable in their levels of oppression and cruelty yet the majority of the Nazi's returned to their comfortable lives in the west never having to face justice. However the eye witness accounts from SS officers in the book never indicated any guilt for their actions anyway, generally they felt justified.
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36 of 39 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A book which admirably complements the DVD, 30 Jun. 2005
By 
Budge Burgess (Troon, Scotland) - See all my reviews
The book which parallels the BBC television series on Auschwitz ... and one which can most effectively be read in conjunction with a viewing of the series (either on television or DVD). The BBC has developed considerable skill in combining scholarly but accessible written and visual history, and this is no exception.
For the most part, Rees' book is highly accessible, especially given the emotional volatility of his subject matter. He achieves a laudable degree of balance and objectivity, avoiding the urge to be judgemental. Present the facts - the reader is well capable of making his/her own judgement.
The central theme is that Auschwitz was not simply a death camp. It was conceived as an industrial complex, as a profit-making concern which would wring the maximum work from a force of slave labourers. German industry profited from it ... and, in due course, the complex that was Auschwitz would be run on industrial principles as its managers created a production line of death.
Mass murder, here, was a process. Over a million would be murdered in Auschwitz, but the thousands of people who contributed to its operation were, for the main, 'ordinary' people. The writer Hannah Arendt commented that she attended the trial of Adolf Eichmann, the German officer in charge of the final solution: she had expected to look into the face of evil; instead, she found herself facing an innocuous, petty bourgeois, bald, insignificant old man, devoutly sticking to the mantra that he had only been following orders and couldn't be held responsible. [ See Hannah Arendt, "Eichmann in Jerusalem: A Report on the Banality of Evil".]
Rees demonstrates that the thousands of bureaucrats, workers, even the guards, were simple jobsworths who rubber stamped murder and treated genocide as a matter of double-entry accounting. The victims were a commodity to be processed, stripped of their dignity, stripped of their humanity, sent to their death packed into cattle wagons. It was a job. How many this week? Evil is not a matter of consciously deciding to commit some horrific act or uphold an abominable philosophy: evil is simply ordinary people not questioning, not objecting ... because they are too scared, too greedy, too busy, or so corrupted that they accept that someone else is no longer to be regarded as human, someone else deserves their fate.
The commandant of Auschwitz, Rudolf Höss, was an ambitious Nazi functionary whose business management skills were devoted to the task of making the executions more efficient and cost-effective - finding better, less costly ways to kill in numbers and then dispose of the bodies.
The great evil here is the blind conviction that the individual can abdicate responsibility, that s/he is only following orders. Even Jews collaborated in murdering others. What is most disturbing about the 60th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz is that genocide is still occurring - it is only a matter of years since it last flared up in Europe in the former Yugoslavia. And when Rees analyses the way the Jews were made less than human in the decades before the outbreak of World War 2, it's worth considering how readily we can all demonise and dehumanise others because of their religion, race, nationality, or whatever.
Laurence Rees offers a thoroughly researched account of the building and role of Auschwitz, made all the more vivid by the wealth of first hand accounts he includes. It seems that half of Britain's teenagers have never heard of Auschwitz. Rees demonstrates precisely why it is vital everyone is reminded of the name - it is only too easy to find yourself acting as a jobsworth, turning a blind eye to this or that. Chilling, disturbing, but essential reading. [For the interested, I'd also recommend Primo Levi's "If This Is a Man", the account of a survivor, and Deborah Dwork's "Auschwitz", where she dissects how the town became the centre of death.]
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Auschwitz : The Nazis & The 'Final Solution'
Auschwitz : The Nazis & The 'Final Solution' by Laurence Rees (Paperback - 1 Sept. 2005)
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