Friday, February 24, 2012

currently reading...

I picked up this book from a second hand book shop on Wednesday for $7.80, bargain!

Commandant of Auschwitz by Rudolf Hoess

The blurb:
'This book is filled with has no literally quality and reading it is agony', comments Primo Levi in his introduction. 'The author comes across as what he is; a coarse, stupid, arrogant, long winded scoundrel'. And yet ' is one of the most instructive books ever published'. Rudolf Hoess was Commandant of Auschwitz during the war. Taken prisoner by the British he was ordered to write his autobiography in the weeks between his trial and his execution.
This is it.

An extraordinary and unique document: Hoess was in charge of the huge extermination camp in Poland where the Nazis murdered some three million Jews, from the time of it's creation(he was responsible for building it) in 1940 until late 1943, by which time the mass exterminations were half completed. Before this he has worked in other concentration camps, and afterwards he was at the Inspectorate in Berlin. He thus knew more, both first-hand and as an administrator, about Nazi Germany's greatest crime than almost anyone. Captured by the British, he was handed over to the Poles, tried, sentenced to death, and taken back to Auschwitz and there hanged.

The royalties from this macabre but historically important book go to the fund set up to help the few survivors of Auschwitz camps.


I'm fascinated by Hitler's regime. Not in an 'I think it was good way' but in an 'I don't understand how any of this could actually happen' way.

I've never seen a book like this before so I was very excited to see it and start reading it.

The book is introduced by someone called Primo Levi and he basically gives us a brief history of Rudolf Hoess and examines some of Rudolf's writing and poor attempts at pleading ignorance.
It's also stated by Primo, that this book published in German (it's original text, obviously) has bits and pieces taken out due to 'squeamishness', the English version is the only book that presents Rudolf's autobiography in it's entirety.

I'm only up to page 79 but so far I'm disgusted. The book is chilling and revolting but very interesting at the same time.

For example, It is stated that mass killings in Nazi Germany by officers in the SS that resulted in blood baths, lowered team morale and often lead to suicide.
Apparently there was the need to 'exterminate' the 'guilty people' (ie. Jews, Jehovah's Witness's etc) without there being any actual bloodshed. It needed to be clean so that it didn't mess with the SS officers heads.
Rudolf Hoess is the man responsible for the gas chambers.
It was he, who decided they could use the chemical used to kill rats and cockroaches, on their fellow man.
The people being 'exterminated' were put in the gas chambers, the toxic chemical was placed in the air vents of the chamber and there you go.
Mass killings.
Clean mass killings.

It's absolutely sickening but very curious.

I'm not going to recommend this book because I know it's not to everyone's taste but like I said, this kind of thing intrigues me.
I love history.

I hope no one thinks I'm a nutbag!

1 comment:

  1. There's a book called Nazi Doctors: the Psychology of Genocide by Professor Robert J Lifton, which is fantastic. I have read meany, many books on WW2, specifically the Holocaust, and this is the one that I enjoyed the most by far