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THE SUNDAY TIMES AND INTERNATIONAL BESTSELLER
'Superb' ANDREW ROBERTS
In this classic book, highly acclaimed 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.
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. Drawing on Rees's landmark documentary and material from the Russian archives, which challenged many previously accepted arguments, this book reveals significant and disturbing facts - from the operation of a brothel to the corruption that was rife throughout the camp.
This is the story of murder, brutality, courage, escape and survival, and a powerful account of how human tragedy of such immense scale could have happened.
This pathbreaking work reveals the "destructive dynamism" of the Nazis' most notorious death camp. Rees, creative director of history programs for the BBC, consistently offers new insights, drawn from more than 100 interviews with survivors and Nazi perpetrators. He gives a vivid portrait of the behind-the-scenes workings of the camp: for instance, of how a sympathetic guard could mean the difference between life and death for inmates, and the opening of a brothel to satisfy the "needs" of sadistic camp guards. But this is more than an anecdotal account of Nazi brutality. Rees also examines, and takes a stand on, controversial issues: he argues, for instance, that bombing the camp's train tracks wouldn't have saved many Jews. Nor does he overlook stories of individual acts of kindness or the Danes' rescue of their Jewish community. Rees (The Nazis: A Warning from History) gives a complete history of the camp how it was turned over time from a concentration camp into a death factory where 10,000 people were killed in a single day. Indeed, his argument for incrementalism at Auschwitz mirrors his larger claim that the "Final Solution" came about in an ad hoc fashion, as top Nazi officials struggled for a way to implement their virulent anti-Semitism. Some scholars have made this argument, and others reject it, but the depth and wealth of detail Rees provides make this treatment highly compelling. 16 pages of b&w photos not seen by PW.FYI: This book is the companion to a documentary that PBS will air in three two-hour segments, on January 19, January 26 and February 2.