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A Soviet POW's point of view
on 28 February 2008
Today the Holocaust is known by the majority of the Western World and Auschwitz is a cornerstone of that knowledge. It is perhaps true that Jewish accounts represent the majority of the literature which depicts what happened during a genocide the likes of which the world could hardly believe had taken place when the war was over. Yet, for better or worse, those accounts helped and continue to help readers understand what these men, women, and children had to go through. This book represents, for me, the first time I have ever read an account from a Red Army Prisoner of War (POW) who had gone through Auschwitz in its early days, escaped, and then was able to confront his tormentors in court decades later and help to imprison them.
This is not an easy read, beatings, mass murder, executions, torture, and death are evident on practically every page of this small but powerful book. The author talks about how much he and some of those around him endured, suffered, witnessed, and overcame. Survival was not a daily endurance test but one that was fought every second of every minute. A wrong word, a wrong expression, and a wrong movement would be enough to get one beaten, tortured, and even killed. How humanity can stoop to such cruelty and barbarity is something that we might never understand, but to understand what it means for those caught on the other side is a necessity. This book goes far in making sure that we get a glimpse of what those caught in a hell on earth had to confront.