Book Review – Eyewitness Auschwitz, Three Years in the Gas Chambers

Thursday, September 18, 2008 – original post

Eyewitness Auschwitz,
Three Years in the Gas Chambers
Written By: Filip Muller
Published by Ivan R Dee, Chicago, 1st Ed. By this Publisher, Published in Association with the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, 1999, 180 pages, softcover
ISBN 978-1566632713

Eyewitness Auschwitz is an exceptionally graphic, in-depth and carefully recounted description of Filip Muller’s horrific, three-year’s in the Gas Chambers of Auschwitz, one of the most infamous Nazi Extermination Camps”

Filip Muller was born in Sered, Czechoslovakia in 1922. He was a young man with the promising future of being a great fiddle player and possibly as a writer.
Then in 1942, Filip was deported to Auschwitz, when he was just 20 years old and his life and indeed his very soul, would never be the same again.
When he arrived in Auschwitz, Filip was permanently tattooed with the prisoner number 29236 and then sent to work in the gassing chambers soon after.
As a part of the Sonderkommando(Jewish prisoners/workers), Filip Muller was forced to work under the threat of torture, deprivation and extermination if he did not do as he was ordered by his captors.
He slaved-away with many other sonderkommando’s, performing tasks that sickened him and shattered his sense of humanity because of his own desire to live just one more day. Filip’s need to survive was not always forefront in his mind and at one point during his imprisonment he was ready and wanted to die; to finally escape from Auschwitz and all of its horrors. His captors had other ideas though and prevented him from ending his life until they decided it was his time to die.
Filip was witness to and or assisted in the physical labour required to gas, cremate, mass-cremate in pits, transport corpses, strip corpses, dig mass graves & cremation pits, remove ashes, amongst countless other ghastly sights and tasks.
He and many others with him, were finally liberated in the month of May, in 1945.

Eyewitness Auschwitz, Three Years in the Gas Chambers is a profound book chronicling the three-year real-life experiences of Filip Muller who lived to tell his story after the war was over. Without his testimony, there might not have been much first-hand testimony of many small details from the happenings inside Auschwitz.
When I read the excerpt for this book and even as I began reading it, I was so disgusted with what appeared to be a man putting his life above so many others. I was thinking ‘how in the world could he help these people, how could he do their dirty work, when it could just as easily have been him laying there, waiting lifelessly for his turn in the crematory?’. Here I was (as a reader), appointing myself as Filip Muller’s judge & jury, without even hearing his whole story. How many others felt as I did, about prisoners who were forced to work in the extermination camps as executioners of sorts?
By the time I finished reading this book, I was filled with such a deep and profound sorrow for all those who had been murdered, for their fellow prisoners who had been forced to assist with the murders and the immense injustice of it all. I realized that Filip Muller was not a horrible person. He was just another victim trapped in the awfulness of Auschwitz and he has had to live with all memories of what he was forced to do and all that he saw and lived through.
What a heavy burden it must be.

**Please understand that this is one of THE most graphic stories that I have ever read.** The realistic and stomach-churning depictions are very hard to get your head around sometimes, though the book is that much more extraordinary because of the hard-hitting truths.
This is a must read for anyone who wants to know more about the Holocaust and what really went on in Auschwitz and I strongly recommend this book!!

♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦ (8 out of 10 Diamonds) – Thoroughly enjoyed it

 
Some Information about the Author (very graphic):
http://www.auschwitz.dk/docs/new_page_11.htm
Link to the Publisher’s Website:
http://www.ivanrdee.com/

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7 thoughts on “Book Review – Eyewitness Auschwitz, Three Years in the Gas Chambers

  1. Missy said…
    I’m adding it to my booklist, I love survival stories.
    Did you read “Night” by Elie Wiesel?
    September 19, 2008 11:35 PM

    ~ Bobbie Crawford-McCoy ~ said…
    Hi Missy :)

    Actually, ‘Night’ is on my ‘Books I will be reading and reviewing…’ list on my blog :)
    I’m looking forward to reading it for sure.
    I’m glad you are going to read ‘Eyewitness Auschwitz, Three Years in the Gas Chambers’ Missy, you won’t be disappointed!

    Thanks for leaving a comment :)
    September 20, 2008 12:27 AM

    Joni Cleary said…
    Hi Bobbie,

    Wow… What a great review for such a weighty subject!

    I am going to add this one to my TBR.
    September 22, 2008 4:04 AM

    ~ Bobbie Crawford-McCoy ~ said…
    Hi Again Joni :)

    I’m glad you enjoyed the review! It’s good to hear that you are adding it to your list of books to read ;)
    Thanks for leaving a comment and for becoming a blog ‘Follower’ Joni!!
    September 22, 2008 8:38 AM

  2. Bobbie, I’ve never heard of this book. I enjoy historical books -fiction and non-fiction – set against the backdrop of WWII and The Holocaust. This sounds like one of the more difficult to read, but I’m adding it to my TBR list anyway.

    PS – I clicked through from J. Kaye’s Book Blog. I’m looking forward to exploring your blog.

  3. Hi Shana,

    Welcome!
    Yes, it is a difficult book to read at times because of how very graphic it is; it actually sickened my stomach at times and I have a very strong constitution!
    Still, it’s such a powerful book that I recommend it to anyone interested in finding out more about the Holocaust.
    I’m glad you are going to read it too!

    Thank goodness for J. Kaye ;)
    I’m glad you’re here!

    Bobbie

  4. Hi Keyomi,

    I’m glad you are going to read it! I’m glad I brought it to people’s attention too.
    It is a really great book, even though the content is extremely graphic in its details and descriptions.

    Thanks for commenting!

    Bobbie

  5. This has been on my to-read list for some time. I’ve read about the Sonderkommandos, but never something from the point of view of one of them. Sounds like a sad, but important story. Thanks for the review.

    –Anna

  6. Hi Anna,

    I very highly recommend this book to everyone; I honestly would have given it a 10 out of 10 because of how important a book this is but I felt badly because it is such a vivid illustration of all the horrible things that went on behind the scenes and it is SOOOOO graphic!!!

    The Sonderkommando were people like everyone else, just trying to survive one more day. Unfortunately (or fortunately – because some survived) their will to survive was what the SS used to exploit them and blackmail them (on threat of their own extermination and that of their families) into doing a lot of the “dirty” work around the concentration camps.

    It is very sad and incredibly sickeningly, but it’s a real story which makes it essential to read (if you can stomach it) because of its detailed content.

    You are most welcome for the review. :)

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