Auschwitz: A New History

Laurence Rees
In "Auschwitz: A New History," documentarian Laurence Rees excavates a wealth of information and offers a new perspective in his shocking portrait of this most infamous death camp. Informed by more than a hundred original interviews with survivors and Nazi perpetrators, Rees's study exposes the inner workings of the camp in unprecedented detail -- from the continually refined techniques of mass murder to the shrewd psychological manipulations of inmates, and from the unimaginable living conditions to the bizarre microcosms that emerged, such as the brothel and the dining hall, where the line between guard and prisoner became surprisingly blurred. These narratives also serve to dispel many of the persisting myths surrounding its origins, its dark purpose, and the minds of its leaders. Auschwitz was not built expressly for exterminating Jews, for instance, contrary to popular opinion. And neither were the Nazis blind, obedient automatons merely "following orders:" in testimony after testimony, individuals asserted that they did what they believed to be the right thing at the time, and were devoid of regret or remorse. Yet amidst the internal corruption, rampant theft, and rape, there were brief glimmers of compassion -- or apathy -- kindness -- or laziness -- even what looked like love, between opposing sides. From early visions of an agricultural research station to a concentration camp for war criminals and political prisoners; from a work camp supporting a synthetic rubber factory to a "factory of death:" and the final, desperate liquidations, Rees outlines the evolution of Nazism's most unique creation -- one that offers great insight into the operation of the Nazi state. A major best seller in Europe, "Auschwitz" is a vital addition to our understanding of the Second World War, the Holocaust, and the human capacity for unthinkable evil.

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