Learn more Shop now Learn more Shop now Shop now Shop now Shop now Shop now Shop now Shop now Shop now Shop now Learn More Shop now Learn more Click Here Shop Kindle Learn More Shop now Shop Now

Customer reviews

4.7 out of 5 stars
178
4.7 out of 5 stars
Auschwitz: A Doctor's Eyewitness Account (Penguin Modern Classics)
Format: Paperback|Change
Price:£7.32+ Free shipping with Amazon Prime


on 24 July 2016
This is a very hard book to review. It is a no holds barred description of the many ways Jews were murdered and then burned or buried in the Auschwitz concentration camp -referred to as KZ in thebook. The doctor made a deal with the devil in order to keep himself alive The devil being the infamous Dr Mengele who was obsessed with twins and how to help Arian women produce more ito increase the Master race faster. He compelled Dr N to do autopsies on countless newly-murdered sets of twins of all ages, from newborns on -mostly children. This work was done in a laboratory with the constant background of the screams of those being taken to the 4 crematoria where they were gassed, their clothes and any valuables taken, teeth and hair removed after death and then they were placed into the flames in large numbers. There were also a regular number shot outside his door each evening. The twins were killed in another manner , by injection. The book recounts all of these and more. The doctor, in his privilged position survived the 4 monthly murder of the Jews used to do the work in the crematoria, and indeed was able to get his wife and daughter away to a safer place. He survived his 8 months in the camp and was finally liberated after walking 900 km across Germany to another camp, at the end of the war. He dealt with the devil and I'm sure paid the price, living with his indescribable memories for the rest of his life. He wanted to make sure the horrors were made public after the war and his book succeeds in doing this so very graphically.
I took off stars because 12% of the book consisted of a Preface and an Introduction by other authors (which I speed-read) and then there were a bibliography and notes at the end. I could not give a star to say I liked this book -I did not but felt I had to read it to honor those who died in a very , very small way. They must never be forgotten.
0Comment| 4 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
on 19 June 2017
A chilling account of Auschwitz from a doctor who experienced the horrors from
a different viewpoint to many others! From a somewhat privileged yet still terrifyingly tenuous position he gives an account of his experiences - sickening and harrowing I am glad he lived to tell this gruesome tale so the world can see how horrific the nazi regime was
0Comment|Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
on 29 September 2017
Difficult to read because of the horror. True story of Dr. Nyiszli who was forced tp work with Mengele and live with the Sonderkommando. He wanted to live so that he could tell of what he experienced in Auschwitz. A very important book.
0Comment|Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
on 13 September 2017
How far would you go to save your own skin? This guy was prepared to do anything and even refuse aid to fellow prisoners if he thought that it may put his own survival at risk. A study in self preservation taken to the extreme, how far would you go?
0Comment|Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
on 8 March 2013
There are many stories regarding this period of history. To read how this doctor struggle to keep his family together in Auschwitz was inspiring. I would recommend this book.
11 Comment|Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
on 23 May 2017
This is the story of Miklos Nyiszli. An ordinary doctor living and working in Romania until the Nazi invasion during World War II. He was sent to Auschwitz along with his family because of the fact that they were Jews. However, because of his skills as a pathologist dr Nyiszli was basically recruited by dr Josef Mengele himself. The book focuses on the horrors witnessed by the author in the death camp as well as his interaction with Mengele. Some of the things described are really disturbing. But that's hardly any news. The Holocaust is one of the darkest chapters in human history. It's one of those things that should never be forgotten.
0Comment| One person found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
on 14 April 2013
Format: Paperback|Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
This is a difficult book to think about and review. Nyiszli was a Hungarian Jew who was sent to Auschwitz with his wife and daughter. His background as a doctor and forensic pathologist meant that he was assigned to the Sonderkommando - a group of prisoners who lived in relatively comfortable conditions and helped to run the gas chambers and crematoria. It was as part of this group that Nyiszli assisted Mengele in his various experiments. Nyiszli was always conscious of the fact that every four months, in order to keep the camp's activities secret, the Sonderkommando would be killed and a new one formed.

"Auschwitz" describes unspeakable evil: the gas chambers, the experiments, and the dehumanization of millions of people. The camp is run very efficiently and the people who pass through it are treated as units to be stripped of their resources, such as labour, hair, and gold fillings, before being liquidated. Nyiszli is an intelligent and clinical observer (he claims 'I write not as a reporter but as a doctor'), determined for the truth of what happened to reach the outside world, and his account raises many questions, perhaps unanswerable, about how people can commit such evil, and in such a bureaucratized way.

Nyiszli's account was first published in an English translation in 1960 where it was accompanied by a introduction by Bruno Bettelheim, reprinted here. Bettelheim's introduction is troubling and wrong-headed as he, himself a camp survivor, blames the Jewish people for what he sees as their acquiescence in their extermination and castigates Nyiszli for his actions whilst in the camp. The introduction to this Penguin Modern Classics edition is by Richard J. Evans, author of the excellent Telling Lies About Hitler: The Holocaust, History and the David Irving Trial, who puts Nyiszli's account in its historical context, corrects places where he is in error or confused, and also discusses Bettelheim's controversial introduction.
0Comment| 3 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
HALL OF FAMETOP 50 REVIEWERVINE VOICEon 17 November 2012
Format: Paperback|Vine Customer Review of Free Product( 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.
0Comment| 4 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
VINE VOICEon 5 December 2012
Format: Paperback|Vine Customer Review of Free Product( 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.
0Comment| 36 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
TOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICEon 20 February 2013
Format: Paperback|Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
This is not a comfortable read but it is a story that needs to be told. It is not a book that you can 'like' in the conventional meaning of the word.

Thankfully, whilst Nyiszli describes the work he was forced to carry out to assist the notorious Dr Mengele, he was not involved in the appalling and scientifically dubious experiments which the latter carried out at Auschwitz. Nyiszli's role was to carry out post-mortem examinations and methodically document his findings. He describes this in a dispassionate, scientific, almost 'professional' way. There is a element of him taking professional pride in doing the work properly - perhaps to maintain some sense of normalcy in an otherwise horrific situation in which he has no control of his life. At the same time, his revulsion at what was happening around him is clear to see. At one point, reviewing Nysizli's autopsy findings of children who Mengele had killed with injections of chloroform to the heart, Mengele says that as the children showed signs of inherited syphilis and tuberculosis they would have died anyway. Nyiszli silently observes that "here tuberculosis and syphilis were not treated with medicines and drugs, but chloroform injections". Later on, Nyiszli recalls Mengele's irritation at grease spots on the files containing the grisly reports, yet records Mengele showed neither revulsion nor remorse for the pointless experiments contained within.

Nyiszli survived until Auschwitz was cleared and then endured and survived the forced marches that followed which are also described, briefly, in his book. There is a bit of me that wondered how Nyiszli could do what he did and remain sane. I occasionally wondered too how he could perform the role he did in the first place but this thought was almost instantaneously dismissed. He had no real choice and, had he not survived, the grisly details of life behind the scenes in the crematoriums would not have been known. Very few accounts of this type exist and the book is an important testimony of man's inhumanity to man.
0Comment| 2 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse