Thursday, September 18, 2008 – original post
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
“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