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a very informative book from someone that actually witnessed much of what happened in the holocaust.
Jun 9, 2009
Disturbing and comprehensive
In saying I would recommend this book to a friend, I would add the caveat "with suitable warning". The content is disturbing and by nature emotionally charged, though Mr Kogon handles his subject, for the most part, as objectively as possible.
It is certainly a subject he knows all too well, having been incarcerated at Buchenwald concentration camp. He is thus well placed to assess the testimony of other survivors, and the material presented in this book is the result of careful collation and cross referencing on his part.
Amazingly, I have seen a reviewer of this book argue that Mr Kogon's depiction of SS officers and Noncoms as unintelligent borders on being "libellous". Leaving aside the obvious fatuity of this argument, many authors (notably William Schirer) have pointed out that the Nazi hierarchy, with its strongly anti-intellectual bent, was never drawn from the "brightest and the best", whilst brutality begat further brutality, amongst both the guards and some of the inmates.
Overall, this is a disturbing, often sickening study of something the world would do well to remember. Amongst the filth, some gems of human bravery do shine and are carefully related.
Worthwhile reading, though one of the most unpleasant books I have ever picked up.
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