Eyewitness Auschwitz: Three Years in the Gas Chamber

Eyewitness Auschwitz: Three Years in the Gas Chamber

Paperback

By (author) Filip Muller

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  • Publisher: Ivan R Dee, Inc
  • Format: Paperback | 192 pages
  • Dimensions: 138mm x 208mm x 14mm | 236g
  • Publication date: 1 September 1999
  • Publication City/Country: Chicago
  • ISBN 10: 1566632714
  • ISBN 13: 9781566632713
  • Illustrations note: maps
  • Sales rank: 8,942

Product description

Filip Muller came to Auschwitz with one of the earliest transports from Slovakia in April 1942 and began working in the gassing installations and crematoria in May. He was still alive when the gassings ceased in November 1944. He saw millions come and disappear; by sheer luck he survived. Muller is neither a historian nor a psychologist; he is a source-one of the few prisoners who saw the Jewish people die and lived to tell about it. Eyewitness Auschwitz is one of the key documents of the Holocaust. Published in association with the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum. "A shattering, centrally important testimony."-from the Foreword by Yehuda Bauer. "A very detailed description of day-to-day life, if we can call it that, in Hell's inmost circle...Having read other books of this kind, I had expected to read this one straight through. But no, Eyewitness Auschwitz is jammed with infernal information too terrible to be taken all at once."-Terrence Des Pres, New Republic. "Riveting...It is a tale of unprecedented, incomparable horror. Profoundly, intensely painful; but it is essential reading."-Jewish Press Features.

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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.

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

Editorial reviews

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)