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9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Interesting in a Strangely Low-Key Sort of Way
This is much more of an exercise in discussing the logistics of setting up and running Auschwitz and other camps than giving any gory details of what went on. If you took the camps out of the equation, you would simply think you were reading a discussion on building a large-scale enterprise with a shortage of resources, poor planning and the usual personnel problems that...
Published on 27 Jun 2009 by E. Smith

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17 of 22 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars This book details how an ordinary man can excuse his own....
Rudolf Hoess details in this book much which has little to do with the title subject matter. Although a morbidly fascinating read, he talks hardly at all of the disgusting realities which he was responsible for. Moreover he talks at length about how he came to be commandant, and the logistical difficulties he faced in implementing his horrific task. Throughout the book...
Published on 15 April 2001 by Paul A Bradley


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9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Interesting in a Strangely Low-Key Sort of Way, 27 Jun 2009
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E. Smith (Edinburgh, Scotland) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Commandant Of Auschwitz (Age of Dictators 1920-1945) (Paperback)
This is much more of an exercise in discussing the logistics of setting up and running Auschwitz and other camps than giving any gory details of what went on. If you took the camps out of the equation, you would simply think you were reading a discussion on building a large-scale enterprise with a shortage of resources, poor planning and the usual personnel problems that any big business has.

Hoess does seem rather disingenuous about his activities, but he paints an interesting picture of his interactions with other major players in the RSHA, SS and camp scenes.

Given the sensitivities, it's understandable for the publishers not to try to humanise the man, but I would have appreciated some personal photographs showing the man himself, rather than just the usual photos of general camp misery.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Can sometimes be difficult to follow, generally a good read, 9 Dec 2009
I have just finished reading this book and generally it has been a good insight into the mind of Hoess, commandant of Auschwitz. However, the autobiography is one long paragraph, with the very occasional break, and so if you are an infrequent reader it would be easy to lose your way with this. Occasionally it seems that Hoess goes off on tangents and so this may also be difficult to follow, although generally he does try to tie things together. He seems to portray himself as being the victim of other's inefficiency and orders, that is to say he makes you think at times he never had any control over anything that happened, although prior to reading this i had heard that this book paints him in a better light than he really should have been. However, thankfully there are footnotes to the text in places which outline more detail and do at times contradict what Hoess' has written about himself, along with evidence to support this alternative view. There are a few detailed descriptions of prisoners he encountered and these are very enlightening and somewhat disturbing. Also there are appendices to the main text with Hoess' views on other SS men such as Himmler. Generally this is a good read, although the reader needs to keep an open mind!
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40 of 48 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Insight into the depraved technocracy of the death camps, 16 April 2001
This review is from: Commandant Of Auschwitz (Age of Dictators 1920-1945) (Paperback)
Media commentators, rather than professional historians, have often been wondered how the Jewish Final Solution programme could have been operated with so little public disquiet. This book goes someway towards an explanation. Early in Hoess' autobiography it emerges that all opponents of the Reich, all those who could cause friction (especially on the Left) were either run off, suppressed, or sent to concentration camps from 1933 onwards. After 1935 the Nazis had no effective opposition to contend with; and excesses mounted after excesses. In many ways it is a terrible book. Terrible in that it reveals how easy it is for people to place a gulf between their actions and any moral court. For instance, Hoess documents the murders of various categories of prisoner (Catholics, homosexuals, gypsies, Jews, Russian POWS)in a manner reminiscent of a quality assurance officer running through a checklist. It is that disassociation between moral judgement and action that haunts the reader throughout the text.
One can also reasonably infer from the text that though the exterminations were a closely guarded secret, the logistics of the operations meant that many more were aware of the operations. Hoess freqently refers to SS 'morale' problems (not moral ones of course).
In Hoess' ideological world the murder of people of all races and creeds, is never understood or presented as murder per se. Instead the matter is addressed through a language of indirection, a euphemistic terminology. Episodes of mass murder and attendant events are referred to as 'actions', the human cargos of captives delivered in appalling conditions by rail are 'transports'. Hoess never questions the 'need' for the camps, and only pesters his superiors when administrative glitches threaten the smooth running of the 'actions'.
The unexpressed disregard for prisoners as human beings, with aspirations and desires similar to ordinary people, percolates through the whole book. Prisoners and common criminals are 'riff raff'. Hoess scracely notices the Russian POWs as human, preferring to understand them as 'animals'. Jews, for example, are elevated to a plane somewhere above the Russians and under the gypsies.
The precise technical descriptions of how the camps functioned on a day to day basis, make for interesting but harrowing reading. The reader should not lose sight of the fact that Hoess was a mass murderer. His interactions with the Nazi hierarchy give an insight into the despotism and caprice of a extraordinary gaggle of morally bankrupt politicians.
In conclusion, this book explains both directly and indirectly how much of the terror that was Nazism came to technically refined in the concentration camps, first with the political opposition and then moving on to the ethnic groups. There is a lesson here but after Rwanda and Bosnia, I wonder can we ever learn from past inhumnaity?
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19 of 24 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Mixed opinions, 26 Feb 2004
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This review is from: Commandant Of Auschwitz (Age of Dictators 1920-1945) (Paperback)
No doubt about it, whatever your views are on the topic, this is a very gripping and thoroughly interesting read. However, If you have done any research on the subject of the holocaust, you will doubt the integrity of the the author throughout. As with many historical events, there is ordinarily a valid point to be taken from either side, but with these memoirs being written whilst in allied custody, you can't help but feel that there is an overwhelming unnatural sense of "I didn't do it" about the whole text.
In spite of the overwhelming evidence against the Nazis, the author does to some extent attempt to express the pressures upon him to be an active part in their success, and to a larger extent, their downfall. I found the book extremely interesting, regardless of the bias and blame on others that it heavily relies on.
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17 of 22 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars This book details how an ordinary man can excuse his own...., 15 April 2001
This review is from: Commandant Of Auschwitz (Age of Dictators 1920-1945) (Paperback)
Rudolf Hoess details in this book much which has little to do with the title subject matter. Although a morbidly fascinating read, he talks hardly at all of the disgusting realities which he was responsible for. Moreover he talks at length about how he came to be commandant, and the logistical difficulties he faced in implementing his horrific task. Throughout the book he makes excuses and talks about how people outside the german phsychological background fail to understand how germans who say they were following orders really had no choice but to follow to the letter. At times hard work this book is only worth reading for as much as one is more widely read for having done so. Take every chapter with a pinch of salt and try to undertsand the position this man found himself in while writing before accepting it too readily.
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11 of 15 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Revealing, disturbing, historically important, 25 Sep 2005
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This review is from: Commandant Of Auschwitz (Age of Dictators 1920-1945) (Paperback)
An essential read for anyone who wants a first hand account, or who has ever asked, "How could they have done that, & then go home to their family?"- here is his point of view, here is how he lived with himself. It isn't comfortable to have his thoughts in your head, but it is revealing.
Some reviewers here are surprised or disappointed not to read any hint of regret in the author's account, but this is to miss the point. -This account is written by someone who believed in Nazi ideology completely. Never having experienced disillusion, even in defeat, how could he experience repentance? What makes this such an uncomfortable read is that the reader enters into this man's mind; into a horribly distorted perspective. You have to stop every now and then, look up and take a breath, because it feels like there's a danger of drowning in this man's outlook.
The book is revealing and historically important not just as an eyewitness account, but in serving as an example of how a human can be trained to believe anything; even that black is white, given the right amount of drilling and growing up with the right amount of propaganda.
(N.B. -As to one reviewer's assertion that this was faked, and written in English- this is a translation from the German. It has been used as a source in several esteemed accounts of the holocaust, which I presume would have checked its provenance first.)
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4.0 out of 5 stars Heavy Duty Creep.., 23 May 2014
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Inquisio (East Anglia. Britain) - See all my reviews
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I have no sympathy for this guy, yet his family must have suffered the ignominy of their father. If this is the true face of Nazism and it's followers then help us all if it happens again. This is a great read, harrowing and worryingly recent, take heed nothing changes in the long term....
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4.0 out of 5 stars An old book, 14 April 2014
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This is in very good condition for the year and as expected the pages are slightly yellowed. A first hand view of the horrors of Auschwitz.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Required Reading., 10 April 2014
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Mrs. E. A. Marks "Annie~~" (Isle of Wight, England) - See all my reviews
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Everybody should read this book to get real insight into fascist thinking. I've read it numerous times now and I still cannot comprehend how a human being could supervise the brutal murder of hundreds of thousands of people every day - children and babies included - and then go through a gate into his private garden and start playing with his own children! What sort of mindset is that? At one point in the book he says that at no time did he ever believe that what they were doing was wrong. How do such monsters actually evolve?
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5.0 out of 5 stars very good, 27 Mar 2014
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This review is from: Commandant Of Auschwitz (Age of Dictators 1920-1945) (Paperback)
this book is brilliant so interesting i love everything about this book its real good read and i will read it again
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Commandant Of Auschwitz (Age of Dictators 1920-1945)
Commandant Of Auschwitz (Age of Dictators 1920-1945) by Rudolf Hoess (Paperback - 6 April 2000)
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