Hermann Langbein was allowed to know and see extraordinary things forbidden to other Auschwitz inmates. Interned at Auschwitz in 1942 and classified as a non-Jewish political prisoner, he was assigned as clerk to the chief SS physician of the extermination camp complex, which gave him access to documents, conversations, and actions that would have remained unknown to history were it not for his witness and his subsequent research. Also a member of the Auschwitz resistance, Langbein sometimes found himself in a position to influence events, though at his peril. People in Auschwitz is very different from other works on the most infamous of Nazi annihilation centers. Langbein's account is a scrupulously scholarly achievement intertwining his own experiences with quotations from other inmates, SS guards and administrators, civilian industry and military personnel, and official documents. Whether his recounting deals with captors or inmates, Langbein analyzes the events and their context objectively, in an unemotional style, rendering a narrative that is unique in the history of the Holocaust. This monumental book helps us comprehend what has so tenaciously challenged understanding.
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In a 1941 Nazi roundup of educated Poles, Stefan Budziaszek—newly graduated from medical school in Krakow—was incarcerated in the Krakow Montelupich Prison and transferred to the Auschwitz concentration camp in February 1942. German big businesses brutally exploited the cheap labor of prisoners in the camp, and workers were dying. In 1943, Stefan, now a functionary prisoner, was put in charge of the on-site prisoner hospital, which at the time was more like an infirmary staffed by well-connected but untrained prisoners. Stefan transformed this facility from just two barracks into a working hospital and outpatient facility that employed more than 40 prisoner doctors and served a population of 10,000 slave laborers.[KKJ1] Stefan and his staff developed the hospital by commandeering medication, surgical equipment, and even building materials, often from the so-called Canada warehouse filled with the effects of Holocaust victims. But where does seeking the cooperation of the Nazi concentration camp staff become collusion with Nazi genocide? How did physicians deal with debilitated patients who faced “selection” for transfer to the gas chambers? Auschwitz was a cauldron of competing agendas. Unexpectedly, ideological rivalry among prisoners themselves manifested itself as well. Prominent Holocaust witnesses Elie Wiesel and Primo Levi both sought treatment at this prisoner hospital. They, other patients, and hospital staff bear witness to the agency of prisoner doctors in an environment better known for death than survival.
An account of the heated David Irving and Deborah Lipstadt libel trial analyzes historical evidence by architectural historian Robert Jan van Pelt to refute holocaust denier claims that gas chambers did not exist at Auschwitz.
In A Centaur in Auschwitz, Massimo Giuliani sheds new light on Primo Levi's rational, demythologizing approach to suffering and survival. Whether working in narrative or poetic form, Levi grappled with the ambiguities and complexities of innocence and guilt, triumph and loss. This unique book, with its concise overview of Levi's expression and development as a writer, reveals Primo Levi for what he was: scientist, intellectual, Jew, human, and dedicated seeker of the roots of human dignity.
The dominant theme of post-Holocaust Jewish theology has been that of the temporary hiddenness of God, interpreted either as a divine mystery or, more commonly, as God's deferral to human freedom. But traditional Judaic obligations of female presence, together with the traditional image of the Shekhinah as a figure of God's 'femaleness' accompanying Israel into exile, seem to contradict such theologies of absence. The Female Face of God in Auschwitz, the first full-length feminist theology of the Holocaust, argues that the patriarchal bias of post-Holocaust theology becomes fully apparent only when women's experiences and priorities are brought into historical light. Building upon the published testimonies of four women imprisoned at Auschwitz-Birkenau - Olga Lengyel, Lucie Adelsberger, Bertha Ferderber-Salz and Sara Nomberg-Przytyk - it considers women's distinct experiences of the holy in relation to God's perceived presence and absence in the camps. God's face, says Melissa Raphael, was not hidden in Auschwitz, but intimately revealed in the female face turned towards the other as a refractive image of God, especially in the moral protest made visible through material and spiritual care for the assaulted other.
God and Humanity in Auschwitz synthesizes the findings of research developed over the last thirty years on the rise of anti-Semitism in our civilization. Donald J. Dietrich sees the Holocaust as a case study of how prejudice has been theologically enculturated. He suggests how it may be controlled by reducing aggressive energy before it becomes overwhelming. Dietrich studies the recent responses of Christian theologians to the Holocaust and the Jewish theological response to questions concerning God's covenant with Israel, which were provoked by Auschwitz. Social science has dealt with the psychosocial dynamics that have supported genocide and helps explain how ordinary persons can produce extraordinary evil. Dietrich shows how this research, combined with theological analyses, can help reconfigure theology itself. Such an approach may serve to help dissolve anti-Semitism, to aid in constructing such positive values as respect for human dignity, and to point the way to restricting future outbreaks of genocide. God and Humanity in Auschwitz surveys which religious factors created a climate that permitted the Holocaust. It also illuminates what social science has to tell us about developing a strategy that, when institutionally implemented, can channel our energies away from sanctioned murder toward a more compassionate society. The book has proven to be an essential resource for theologians, sociologists, historians, and political theorists.
Good and Evil After Auschwitz is a compendium of the papers presented at an extraordinary symposium convened at the Vatican in 1998. It represents the views of more than thirty of the world's foremost theologians and religious thinkers on the inescapable moral question of our era, the problem of how, if at all, believers can reconcile their faith in a just and merciful God with the mass murder of millions of innocents during the Holocaust. Although the symposium took place in the Vatican, it gave voice to the thought and anguish of Jewish and Protestant thinkers as well as Roman Catholics. The participants came from many different countries and include many individuals well known in European intellectual and philosophical circles. The volume includes an interview with Marek Edelman, the last surviving leader of the Warsaw Ghetto uprising, and excerpts from the writings of Moshe Flinker, Etty Hillesum, and Dietrich Bonhoeffer. Good and Evil After Auschwitz is a powerful and thought-provoking book. The profoundly moving contributions by the symposium participants can serve as signposts to guide us in the effort to confront the awesome questions posed by the Holocaust, even as they remind us that no human answer can possibly be adequate to its enormity.
The Stunning and Emotional Autobiography of an Auschwitz Survivor April 7, 1944—This date marks the successful escape of two Slovak prisoners from one of the most heavily-guarded and notorious concentration camps of Nazi Germany. The escapees, Rudolf Vrba and Alfred Wetzler, fled over one hundred miles to be the first to give the graphic and detailed descriptions of the atrocities of Auschwitz. Originally published in the early 1960s, I Escaped from Auschwitz is the striking autobiography of none other than Rudolf Vrba himself. Vrba details his life leading up to, during, and after his escape from his 21-month internment in Auschwitz. Vrba and Wetzler manage to evade Nazi authorities looking for them and make contact with the Jewish council in Zilina, Slovakia, informing them about the truth of the “unknown destination” of Jewish deportees all across Europe. This first-hand report alerted Western authorities, such as Pope Pius XII, Winston Churchill, and Franklin D. Roosevelt, to the reality of Nazi annihilation camps—information that until then had only been recognized as nasty rumors. I Escaped from Auschwitz is a close-up look at the horror faced by the Jewish people in Auschwitz and across Europe during World War II. This newly edited translation of Vrba’s memoir will leave readers reeling at the terrors faced by those during the Holocaust. Despite the profound emotions brought about by this narrative, readers will also find an astounding story of heroism and courage in the face of seemingly hopeless circumstances.
Auschwitz examines the history of the infamous Nazi death camphow it came to be built and how it was used.