Auschwitz was one of the first books to bring the full horror of the Nazi death camps to the American public; this is, as the New York Review of Books said, "the best brief account of the Auschwitz experience available."
When the Nazis invaded Hungary in 1944, they sent virtually the entire Jewish population to Auschwitz. A Jew and a medical doctor, the prisoner Dr. Miklos Nyiszli was spared death for a grimmer fate: to perform "scientific research" on his fellow inmates under the supervision of the man who became known as the infamous "Angel of Death" - Dr. Josef Mengele. Nyiszli was named Mengele's personal research pathologist. In that capacity he also served as physician to the Sonderkommando, the Jewish prisoners who worked exclusively in the crematoriums and were routinely executed after four months. Miraculously, Nyiszli survived to give this horrifying and sobering account.
Narrator Noah Michael Levine's expressive performance shades in different layers of emotion as he narrates the true story of Jewish prisoner Dr. Miklos Nyiszli, who was spared death and chosen by Dr. Josef Mengele himself to assist in the Nazi doctor's terrible experiments. Levine sensitively evokes both the horror and desire for survival that permeates Dr. Nyiszli's stories of serving as Mengele's personal research pathologist and as the physician to the Sonderkommando, the Jewish prisoners who worked in the crematoriums and were routinely executed every four months. Listeners will find themselves moved by Dr. Nyiszli's moral agony over his role as Mengele's assistant and his ambition to stay alive in order to reveal the truth about Auschwitz.
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A mixed bag
This was not a bad book. It read more like a journal than a story. It is simply about one man's experience in a Nazi camp. He witnessed some terrible things while in Auchwitz, and this is a detailed account. This book is not for the squeamish. The doctor is a forensic pathologist who was forced to do autopsies on people who were put to death in Auchwitz. He himself took no part in the killings. Some reviews have referred to him as a war criminal, but honestly, the man had a choice of dying in the gas chambers or working under Mengele doing autopsies on prisoners that were already DOA. The author choose the latter path, and was in constant fear for his life the whole time he was under captivity. Through a series of bribes, he was able to move about the camps more freely than others, but I do not see this as a point of pride for him, especially when you realize what his purpose for moving about the camp was. The book shows what a monster Mengele was and explains his demented ideas that led to the autopsies. This book is a grim reminder of the evil that exists in the world. We owe it to the fallen to hear these stories and remember them. One point of note: I was appalled at the prologue, which, if I understood it correctly, suggested that the plight of the Jews was, in part, brought upon them by their own doing. It was suggested that they were to blame in part for the atrocities that occurred due to their compliance and passivity. This was a different era, and a different people. Naive as they may or may not have been, you do what you are told when a gun is pointed at you. I was very displeased with the opening, and I think it did the book as a whole an grave injustice. As a matter of fact, it was insulting. Narration was average.
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