An excellent history of Auschwitz with an intellectual honesty that the subject badly needs
In his highly acclaimed bestseller AUSCHWITZ, author and broadcaster Laurence Rees tells the definitive history of the most notorious Nazi institution of them all. We discover how Auschwitz evolved from a concentration camp for Polish political prisoners into the site of the largest mass murder in history - part death camp, part concentration camp, where around a million Jews were killed.
Rees uses Auschwitz as a window through which to examine the Holocaust in its broader context. He argues that, far from being an aberration, the camp was a uniquely important institution in the Nazi state, one that played a vital role in the 'Final Solution'.
AUSCHWITZ examines the mentality and motivations of the key Nazi decision makers, and perpetrators of appalling crimes speak here for the first time about their actions. Fascinating and disturbing facts have been uncovered - from the operation of a brothel to the corruption that was rife throughout the camp. The book draws on intriguing new documentary material from recently opened Russian archives, which will challenge many previously accepted arguments.
Auschwitz lay at the hub of a complex system of extermination that spread throughout Nazi Europe. Rees addresses uncomfortable questions, such as why so few countries under Nazi occupation protected their Jews and why the Allies did little directly to prevent the killing even after they knew about the existence of the camp.
This is a story of murder, brutality, courage, escape and survival, and a powerful account of how a human tragedy of such immense scale could have happened.
“Thank God that occasionally books of the stature of Laurence Rees's superb Auschwitz: The Nazis and the Final Solution are published... Fascinating.”
Andrew Roberts, Evening Standard
Boyd Tonkin, The Independent
“A key to understanding man's inhumanity to man”
Ian Thomson, The Guardian
“Well-written with striking testimonies from bystanders, perpetrators and victims. The interviews with SS men, and sundry European Fascists, are genuinely revealing, and must have been exceptionally difficult to negotiate”
Michael Burleigh, Daily Telegraph
“Devastating. Rees's research is impeccable and intrepid. Ultimately he does at the gut level what Hannah Arendt achieved some 40 years ago at the level of philosophy: he forces the reader to shift the Holocaust out of the realm of nightmare or Gothic horror and acknowledge it as something all too human. Scrupulous and honest, this book is utterly without illusions”
David Von Drehle, Washington Post, USA
“This magnificent book is exciting and disturbing at the same time”
Rafael Nuez Florencio, El Mundo, Spain
“Scrupulous and honest, this book is utterly without illusions. Rees, a distinguished journalist and historian at the BBC, layers these details with little fanfare but great craftsmanship. Reading this book is an ordeal - not through any failure of the author's but because of his success. Rees's research is impeccable and intrepid. Rees also makes good use of the records that became available only after the collapse of the Soviet Union and its satellites. spare, heartbreaking prose.”