Eyewitness Auschwitz
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Eyewitness Auschwitz : Three Years in the Gas Chamber

By (author) Filip Muller

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Filip Muller's firsthand account of three years in the gas chambers. One of the few prisoners who saw the Jewish people die and lived to tell about it, Muller has written one of the key documents of the Holocaust. "A very detailed description of day-to-day life, if we can call it that, in Hell's inmost circle...jammed with infernal information too terrible to be taken all at once."-Terrence Des Pres, New Republic.

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  • Paperback | 192 pages
  • 132 x 202 x 18mm | 220g
  • 01 Sep 1999
  • Ivan R Dee, Inc
  • Chicago
  • English
  • maps
  • 1566632714
  • 9781566632713
  • 8,468

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Author Information

Filip Muller was born in Czechoslovakia in 1922, was deported to Auschwitz in 1942, was liberated in 1945, and afterward lived in Western Europe.

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Review quote

Riveting...it is a tale of unprecedented, incomparable horror. Profoundly, intensely painful; but it is essential reading. Jewish Press A very detailed description of day-to-day life, if we can call it that, in Hell's inmost circle...jammed with infernal information too terrible to be taken all at once. -- Terrence Des Pres

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Review text

Toward the end of Muller's three years at Auschwitz, there was an uprising of desperate prisoners. When the SS opened fire, Muller, who by then knew every niche and shadow of the place, hid by climbing into one of the unused crematoria and stood in the flue between the oven and the chimney. There he smoked a cigarette, and as the smoke curled up the chimney he mused on the many people whose mortal remains had disappeared that way. He was committed to survival and so, being a strong young man, he had worked on the Sonderkommando - the prisoner squad that ran the gas chambers for the SS. He had stripped bodies, guided them with forks into the flames, and cremated his own father. There was nothing he would not do. Once, overcome by the horror, he had tried to join the victims in the gas chamber but a young woman told him to save himself "to explain to them that they must free themselves from any illusions." It was this determination to "bear witness" that Muller claims as his reason to "see everything, experience everything, go through everything and consciously record everything in your mind." The details of how the camp operated are presented with sickening precision down to the mixture of healthy and emaciated bodies necessary for efficient burning. Contrary to common wisdom, "the crematoria were not modern or technically advanced. . . . Their operation depended entirely on slave laborers." Muller's account, unlike Elie Wiesel's, deals little with inner states. He accepts "organization" [theft] of valuables as necessary to make life more bearable. Although his descriptions are sometimes marred by pointless adjectives ("bloodthirsty gaze," "terrible sneer," "eagle eyes") and by stilted dialogue (possibly the fault of the translator), we are left with an account of an exceptional experience. Its ramifications, however, seem not to have struck him; and there's no sign that the Des Pres-Bettelheim controversy (sheer survival vs. principled resistance) has reached his ears. (Kirkus Reviews)

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