Auschwitz: A New History

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Public Affairs, 2005 - History - 327 pages
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Published for the 60th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz-a devastating and surprising account of the most infamous death camp the world has ever known. Auschwitz-Birkenau is the site of the largest mass murder in human history. Yet its story is not fully known. In Auschwitz, Laurence Rees reveals new insights from more than 100 original interviews with Auschwitz survivors and Nazi perpetrators who speak on the record for the first time. Their testimonies provide a portrait of the inner workings of the camp in unrivalled detail-from the techniques of mass murder, to the politics and gossip mill that turned between guards and prisoners, to the on-camp brothel in which the lines between those guards and prisoners became surprisingly blurred. Rees examines the strategic decisions that led the Nazi leadership to prescribe Auschwitz as its primary site for the extinction of Europe's Jews-their Final Solution. He concludes that many of the horrors that were perpetrated in Auschwitz were driven not just by ideological inevitability but as a practical response to a war in the East that had begun to go wrong for Germany. determined what happened at Auschwitz. Thus the story of the camp becomes a morality tale, too, in which evil is shown to proceed in a series of deft, almost noiseless incremental steps until it produces the overwhelming horror of the industrial scale slaughter that was inflicted in the gas chambers of Auschwitz.

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Auschwitz: a new history

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Rees (creative director, history programs, BBC) contends that while Auschwitz is a major symbol of the Holocaust, it is also one of the least understood. The history of Auschwitz is complicated ... Read full review

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About the author (2005)

Laurence Rees is Creative Director of History Programs for the BBC.

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