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Review: Auschwitz: A Doctor’s Eyewitness Account by Nyiszli Miklos

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Hold up! Before you read on, please read this...

This post was published more than 5 years ago

I keep old posts on the site because I often enjoy reading old content on other people's sites. Not everything that is old is bad. It can be interesting to see how views have changed over time: for example, how my strident teenage views have mellowed and matured.

But given the age of this post, please bear in mind:

  • My views might very well have changed in the 5 years since I wrote this post. I have written some very silly things over the years, many of which I find pretty embarrassing today.
  • This post might use language in ways which I would now consider highly inappropriate or offensive.
  • Factual information might be outdated.
  • Links might be broken; embedded material might not appear properly.

Okay. Consider yourself duly warned. Read on...

This short, classic, harrowing book documents Nyiszli Miklos’s experience as a Jewish GP recruited under the threat of certain death to assit Dr Mengele in his “medical research” at Auschwitz. It describes the deaths of hundreds of thousands of people, from the transport to Auschwitz and the so-called “selection” process on arrival, to the disposal of their ashes.

Miklos adopts a largely neutral, clinical tone in his description of the events. Somehow, this dispassionate tone makes the descriptions all the more powerful. Occasionally, Miklos’s neutrality slips, and his obvious abhorrence becomes clear. Sometimes, he lays bare his struggle with the diabolical ethical dilemmas he faced, challenging the reader to consider whether they would have reacted in the same way.

This is a simple, short book, yet the descriptions of some of the most appalling acts in the history of humanity make it challenging to read. The matter-of-fact tone merely underlines the seemingly unthinkable horror of the events which occurred at Auschwitz. The book’s brevity also contributes to its power: it says no more than it needs to.

This is clearly not the sort of book for which it would be appropriate to assign a star rating. I include it here only because I was unaware of this historically valuable volume until very recently, which probably reveals a degree of historical and litererary ignorance on my part. I guess that others might, however, be similarly unaware of it, and I hope that this will inspire them to read it. We must learn about and from history’s greatest mistakes if we are to avoid repeating them.

Auschwitz: A Doctor’s Eyewitness Account is available now from amazon.co.uk in paperback and on Kindle.

This 1,995th post was filed under: Book Reviews, , , .

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