Inside the Concentration Camps: Eyewitness Accounts of Life in Hitler's Death Camps

Inside the Concentration Camps: Eyewitness Accounts of Life in Hitler's Death Camps

Inside the Concentration Camps: Eyewitness Accounts of Life in Hitler's Death Camps

Inside the Concentration Camps: Eyewitness Accounts of Life in Hitler's Death Camps

Synopsis

This book is a translation of an oral history of the concentration camp experience recorded immediately after World War II as told by men and women who endured it and lived to tell about it. Their vivid, firsthand accounts heighten the reality of this experience in ways no third-person narrative can capture. Even when they are at a loss for words, their struggle to find language to express the unspeakable is, in itself, mute testimony to the ordeal etched forever on their memories. The testimonies are arranged to reflect the chronology of camp experience (from deportation to liberation), the living conditions of camp life (from malnutrition to forced labor), and the various methods of abuse and extermination (from castration to gassing and cremation). The chronology gives the accounts a narrative flow and even creates a certain suspense, especially as liberation nears and hopes rise.

Excerpt

"The bigger the lie," said Hitler, "the more easily people fall for it." About this Hitler didn't lie, for his big lie was believed.

Today this lie has borne fruit. To the millions of soldiers who died in the war that Hitler started can be added the greater number of victims the Nazis murdered in cold blood in the concentration camps. Ten million is the lowest official figure; twenty million would be closer to the truth.

The greater the crime, the harder it is to believe. This tendency toward self-deception can be found in all who took Hitler's teachings to heart. Even now they act as if they doubt the crimes the Nazis committed, preferring rather to ignore them. In so doing, they implicate themselves in the crimes. There is an old French proverb that says: "One only goes in the direction one is inclined."

If noble-minded Germans want to build a new Germany, how can they know how this Germany should be created if they have no idea what to replace the old with? How will the Germans of tomorrow be able to fulfill their duties properly if the Germans of today ignore the legacy of yesterday's Germany, namely the crimes of the Third Reich?

Naturally it is fitting that the criminals be punished. But it would be better yet if no crime had been committed, as much for the sake of society as for the would-be criminals. Justice can call a temporary halt to it, but only those who work against it can remove the causes. Of course, to remove them, they first have to recognize them.

In the following work, however, we do not concern ourselves with the moral or legal character of crimes against humanity. This is a totally factual report of shameful deeds which, if it fulfills its purpose, will convince the reader that it is not right to persecute or murder . . .

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