Different Voices: Women and the Holocaust

By Carol Rittner; John K. Roth | Go to book overview

know what you are doing in Sobibor. My God, how can they? What are you doing in this? What is your part in it?" For several days, she withheld her sexual favors from him. But in the end she submitted: Though not without its strain, their marriage remained a haven. Thus it helped Stangl to continue his work at Sobibor and Treblinka and to resume a "normal" life after that work was done.

Sereny's disturbing montage of human frailty, frailty-deception, and blindness shows how memory and justice both can be manipulated, blocked, and denied. Theresa Stangl commanded no death camps, but Sereny probes the responsibility that was hers because she knew so intimately a man who did. Into That Darkness emerged from the hope that it might reveal, as Sereny put it, "some new truth which would contribute to the understanding of things that had never yet been understood." Reflecting on her findings, she draws the following conclusions: Individuals remain responsible for their action and its consequences, but persons are and must be responsible for each other, too. What we do as individuals, Sereny contends, "is deeply vulnerable and profoundly dependent on a climate of life" that reflects "the fatal interdependence of all human actions."


Into That Darkness

PREFACE

My dialogues with Franz Stangl, Kommandant of Sobibor and Treblinka, which were published in an abbreviated version in October 1971 in the Daily Telegraph Magazine in England (and subsequently in magazines throughout the world), represent the framework upon which this book is constructed: its focus. But they are finally only a small part of it.

I originally conceived the idea of talking with Stangl when, attending his trial in Germany in 1970 (as, in the course of journalistic work, I had attended other Nazi crime trials), I realized that whatever else he might have been, he was, unlike many others I had observed under similar circumstances, an individual of some intelligence.

He was the only Kommandant of an extermination camp who had been brought to trial. There were, extraordinarily enough, only four men who specifically filled that function: one is dead, and two have managed to disapU+0, 0AD pear from sight. I had felt for many years that, despite the great number of books and films on the Nazi era, there was a whole dimension of reactions and

____________________
From Gitta Sereny, Into That Darkness: An Examination of Conscience. New York: Vintage Books, 1983. Copyright © 1974 by Gitta Sereny. Reprinted by permission of Vintage Books, a division of Random House, Inc. Sections of the text have been renumbered.

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