My rating: 5 of 5 stars
***** WARNING -- graphic descriptions ****
I've mentioned this many times -- I like to read Holocaust and WWII memoirs because they show the beauty of man overcoming the ugly.
Well, this book is indeed about the ugly -- the ugliest I've ever read.
This is an unprecedented memoir of a man who ends up being a prisoner at Aushwitz as a crematorium worker. He managed to smuggle out plans of the crematoria and the camps and seeing them in detail is more than sobering. He also gives detailed, intense commentary on exactly what went on in selections, details that many could never even dream of or imagine.
He talks about the progression of extermination of Jews -- how the SS figured out they needed the prisoners to undress BEFORE being gassed so as to save their clothing -- previously, prisoners had to undress every corpse. He explains the trickery the SS used, implementing the crematorium workers to fool the prisoners into thinking they really WERE going to have a shower and return to get their clothes back. He speaks about digging enormous ditches and how the SS burned bodies in these pits when the chimneys needed repair.
This is not an easy book to read.
However, it's a necessary book to be in the world, because no one should ever forget how quickly and easily so many people can die. It's also a testament to how quickly humans can turn into demons when a leader paves the way for them.