Overview

When the Nazis invaded Hungary in 1944, they sent virtually the entire Jewish population to Auschwitz. A Jew and a medical doctor, Dr. Miklos Nyiszli was spared from death for a grimmer fate: to perform “scientific research” on his fellow inmates under the supervision of the infamous “Angel of Death”: Dr. Josef Mengele. Nyiszli was named Mengele’s personal research pathologist. Miraculously, he survived to give this terrifying and sobering account.
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Auschwitz: A Doctor's Eyewitness Account

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Overview

When the Nazis invaded Hungary in 1944, they sent virtually the entire Jewish population to Auschwitz. A Jew and a medical doctor, Dr. Miklos Nyiszli was spared from death for a grimmer fate: to perform “scientific research” on his fellow inmates under the supervision of the infamous “Angel of Death”: Dr. Josef Mengele. Nyiszli was named Mengele’s personal research pathologist. Miraculously, he survived to give this terrifying and sobering account.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781628720266
  • Publisher: Arcade Publishing
  • Publication date: 4/1/2011
  • Sold by: Barnes & Noble
  • Format: eBook
  • Pages: 240
  • Sales rank: 79,624
  • File size: 910 KB

Meet the Author

Miklos Nyiszli was a Jewish prisoner/doctor along with his wife and young daughter, who was transported to Auschwitz in June 1944. He died in 1956.

Richard Seaver was a publisher, editor, and translator. He passed away in 2009.

Bruno Bettelheim was a child psychologist and writer of international renown. He passed away in 1990.

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Read an Excerpt

Auschwitz

A Doctor's Eyewitness Account
By Miklos Nyiszli

Arcade Publishing

Copyright © 2011 Miklos Nyiszli
All right reserved.

ISBN: 978-1-61145-011-8


Chapter One

May, 1944. inside each of the locked cattle cars ninety people were jammed. The stench of the urinal buckets, which were so full they overflowed, made the air unbreathable.

The train of the deportees. For four days, forty identical cars had been rolling endlessly on, first across Slovakia, then across the territory of the Central Government, bearing us towards an unknown destination. We were part of the first group of over a million Hungarian Jews condemned to death.

Leaving Tatra behind us, we passed the stations of Lublin and Krakau. During the war these two cities were used as regroupment camps—or, more exactly, as extermination camps—for here all the anti-Nazis of Europe were herded and sorted out for extermination.

Scarcely an hour out of Krakau the train ground to a halt before a station of some importance. Signs in Gothic letters announced it as "Auschwitz," a place which meant nothing to us, for we had never heard of it.

Peering through a crack in the side of the car, I noticed an unusual bustle taking place about the train. The SS troops who had accompanied us till now were replaced by others. The trainmen left the train. From chance snatches of conversation overheard I gathered we were nearing the end of our journey.

The line of cars began to move again, and some twenty minutes later stopped with a prolonged, strident whistle of the locomotive.

Through the crack I saw a desert-like terrain: the earth was a yellowish clay, similar to that of Eastern Silesia, broken here and there by a green thicket of trees. Concrete pylons stretched in even rows to the horizon, with barbed wire strung between them from top to bottom. Signs warned us that the wires were electrically charged with high tension current. Inside the enormous squares bounded by the pylons stood hundreds of barracks, covered with green tar-paper and arranged to form a long, rectangular network of streets as far as the eye could see.

Tattered figures, dressed in the striped burlap of prisoners, moved about inside the camp. Some were carrying planks, others were wielding picks and shovels, and, farther on, still others were hoisting fat trunks onto the backs of waiting trucks.

The barbed wire enclosure was interrupted every thirty or forty yards by elevated watch towers, in each of which an SS guard stood leaning against a machine gun mounted on a tripod. This then was the Auschwitz concentration camp, or, according to the Germans, who delight in abbreviating everything, the KZ, pronounced "Katzet." Not a very encouraging sight to say the least, but for the moment our awakened curiosity got the better of our fear.

I glanced around the car at my companions. Our group consisted of some twenty-six doctors, six pharmacists, six women, our children, and some elderly people, both men and women, our parents and relatives. Seated on their baggage or on the floor of the car, they looked both tired and apathetic, their faces betraying a sort of foreboding that even the excitement of our arrival was unable to dispel. Several of the children were asleep. Others sat munching the few scraps of food we had left. And the rest, finding nothing to eat, were vainly trying to wet their desiccated lips with dry tongues.

Heavy footsteps crunched on the sand. The shout of orders broke the monotony of the wait. The seals on the cars were broken. The door slid slowly open and we could already hear them giving us orders.

"Everyone get out and bring his hand baggage with him. Leave all heavy baggage in the cars."

We jumped to the ground, then turned to take our wives and children in our arms and help them down, for the level of the cars was over four and a half feet from the ground. The guards had us line up along the tracks. Before us stood a young SS officer, impeccable in his uniform, a gold rosette gracing his lapel, his boots smartly polished. Though unfamiliar with the various SS ranks, I surmised from his arm band that he was a doctor. Later I learned that he was the head of the SS group, that his name was Dr. Mengele, and that he was chief physician of the Auschwitz concentration camp. As the "medical selector" for the camp, he was present at the arrival of every train.

In the moments that followed we experienced certain phases of what, at Auschwitz, was called "selection." As for the subsequent phases, everyone lived through them according to his particular fate.

To start, the SS quickly divided us according to sex, leaving all children under fourteen with their mothers. So our once united group was straightway split in two. A feeling of dread overwhelmed us. But the guards replied to our anxious questions in a paternal, almost good-natured manner. It was nothing to be concerned about. They were being taken off for a bath and to be disinfected, as was the custom. Afterwards we would all be reunited with our families.

While they sorted us out for transportation I had a chance to look around. In the light of the dying sun the image glimpsed earlier through the crack in the box car seemed to have changed, grown more eery and menacing. One object immediately caught my eye: an immense square chimney, built of red bricks, tapering towards the summit. It towered above a two-story building and looked like a strange factory chimney. I was especially struck by the enormous tongues of flame rising between the lightning rods, which were set at angles on the square tops of the chimney. I tried to imagine what hellish cooking would require such a tremendous fire. Suddenly I realized that we were in Germany, the land of the crematory ovens. I had spent ten years in this country, first as a student, later as a doctor, and knew that even the smallest city had its crematorium.

So the "factory" was a crematorium. A little farther on I saw a second building with its chimney; then, almost hidden in a thicket, a third, whose chimneys were spewing the same flames. A faint wind brought the smoke towards me. My nose, then my throat, were filled with the nauseating odor of burning flesh and scorched hair. —Plenty of food for thought there. But meanwhile the second phase of selection had begun. In single file, men, women, children, the aged, had to pass before the selection committee.

Dr. Mengele, the medical "selector," made a sign. They lined up again in two groups. The left-hand column included the aged, the crippled, the feeble, and women with children under fourteen. The right-hand column consisted entirely of able-bodied men and women: those able to work. In this latter group I noticed my wife and fourteen-year-old daughter. We no longer had any way of speaking to each other; all we could do was make signs.

Those too sick to walk, the aged and insane, were loaded into Red Cross vans. Some of the elderly doctors in my group asked if they could also get into the vans. The trucks departed, then the left-hand group, five abreast, flanked by SS guards, moved off in its turn. In a few minutes they were out of sight, cut off from view by a thicket of trees.

The right-hand column had not moved. Dr. Mengele ordered all doctors to step forward; he then approached the new group, composed of some fifty doctors, and asked those who had studied in a German university, who had a thorough knowledge of pathology and had practiced forensic medicine, to step forward.

"Be very careful," he added. "You must be equal to the task; for if you're not ..." and his menacing gesture left little to the imagination. I glanced at my companions. Perhaps they were intimidated. What did it matter! My mind was already made up.

I broke ranks and presented myself. Dr. Mengele questioned me at length, asking me where I had studied, the names of my pathology professors, how I had acquired a knowledge of forensic medicine, how long I had practiced, etc. Apparently my answers were satisfactory, for he immediately separated me from the others and ordered my colleagues to return to their places. For the moment they were spared. Because I must now state a truth of which I then was ignorant, namely, that the left-hand group, and those who went off in cars, passed a few moments later through the doors of the crematorium. From which no one ever returned.

(Continues...)



Excerpted from Auschwitz by Miklos Nyiszli Copyright © 2011 by Miklos Nyiszli. Excerpted by permission of Arcade Publishing. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4
( 1413 )
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See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 1415 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted October 11, 2001

    Horrific Eye Witness Account That Must Be Read !

    I have always had an interest in the Holocaust, but until I read this book some fourteen years ago, it had always remained at a distance. A reputable colleague at work handed me a copy of this book and said `this is worth a read'. Having begun, I could not put the book down. The book gripped me from start to finish. The story is horrific but, nevertheless, it is a story that we all owe it to ourselves to be familiar with. The story and the author's experiences were so profound and penetrating that I have spent the last fourteen years studying and reading as much about the Holocaust as I can. Prompted by what I read here, I have since visited the Concentration Camps at Treblinka, Majdanek, Auschwitz, Birkenau and Plaszov, together with other areas in Poland directly connected with the Jewish Holocaust. I have seen the buildings full of human hair from the Jewish victims, the gas chambers, crematoria and the other hideous instruments of mass murder referred to in this book. The book by Dr. Miklos Nyiszli will not take you long to finish. The voices of the victims referred to have long since disappeared. Many people today are not even aware of the Holocaust and others deny it's very existence. Books like these, written by people who were actually there, are essential if our this and forthcoming generations are to be made aware of 'man's inhumanity to man' and to prevent such a horror from occurring again.

    264 out of 268 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted April 16, 2011

    Highly Recommend...We must NEVER Forget!

    This book holds you in its grip as you read the autocities of the Third Reich and the SS. Have your mature children read this. I'm not a Jew, but we must never forget what occured in WWII!

    65 out of 75 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted October 26, 2008

    Heartbreaking

    This book is from a completely different angle, not just in the camps, but in the gas chambers. Survivors who worked in the gas chambers just did not happen. This man saw it all though. There is a section in there that was in a movie and shown a little differently. It is the Grey Zone movie. If you watch the section where they find the girl alive after the gas chambers, that is one of the sections talked about in the book. I thought this book was wonderful and it is an amazing book to read if you are interested in the Holocaust. You will be captivated and will not be able to put it down. At the same time you will realize that this all happened and this isn't some scary nightmare.

    49 out of 52 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 3, 2000

    More Than Anyone Should Have to Know

    This is by far the most interesting, informative, and intense novel to depict the lives of Holocaust victims. Dr. Nyszli, whose name I constantly mispell if you've seen any of my reccomendations, has been blessed with a chance to survive in relative comfort in the most notorious concentration camp of WWII, in this capacity he has also been cursed by the knowledge not only of what he has seen, but the asserting knowledge that he knows too much and will perhaps not live long. His tragic and dramatic story is not a mere telling of facts by a medical speacialists, but a deeply connected and horrified man's account of what he has seen. He has a unique vantage that shed's new light on the workings of the death camps and an added look into the Sonderkommando, a group of unfortunates whose camp life will astonish you. I would only like to say once more that this is the best book about the Holocaust and that I strongly reccommend it to any that feel compassion for the six million Jews killed in these camps.

    35 out of 39 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted April 14, 2011

    Highly recommended

    I have seen Schindler's list and other documentaries on Auschwitz. - This book portrayed the real true feelings and emotions of those working for the Sonderkommando. I did not want to put this book down. It amazes me that the Germans could carry this out and have no emotion or feeling while doing such- what a great read. I thought I would have nightmares but I did not.

    21 out of 24 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 12, 2005

    Informative and gut Wrentching

    I read this book in less than 2 days!! The tale of Dr. Nyszli takes the reader on an emotional journey that keeps him/ her truly intrigued. The attrocities that occured at Auschwitz are probably far past what the Doctor could write and even further past what we could fathom. In a review written earlier someone stated that conditions such as those painted for us in this book during WWII Europe occured in America, during FDR's Presidency. The truth is that there were never death camps in the U.S. The Japanese were rounded up and kept in confind living conditions post Pearl Harbor, but none in which can be compared to that of Auschwitz or any other internment camp under the Third Reich.

    21 out of 24 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted August 11, 2011

    Page Turner

    Although very short in length, this book places the reader in the sickening world of what life was like in the concentration camps. He shows that even with odds stacked against him that the will to live...and to be a witness to the atrocities for all to remember.

    15 out of 16 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 17, 2005

    Auschwitz: A Doctor's Eyewitness Account

    This book was so riveting! I could not put it down. I'm an avid reader about the Holocaust and I have read many books on the topic, but this was by far the best!

    14 out of 15 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 29, 2011

    Disturbing but necessary read!

    Should be required reading for all students

    13 out of 14 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted July 10, 2011

    more from this reviewer

    Disturbing but necessary

    Kudos to the dr for reliving the horrors of Auschwitz so that others might know.

    13 out of 18 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted October 22, 2011

    So upsetting

    Glad I read this, but more sorry it ever had to be written.

    9 out of 9 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted July 9, 2011

    more from this reviewer

    Heartwrenching

    The forward was difficult because it forced me to look at this from a different angle...that perhaps inertia was what caused so many to be led. But change is never easy, so I wonder how many of us would actually be any different? Once the doctor begins his first person narrative, I was unable to put it down.

    9 out of 10 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted January 10, 2012

    Kept my interest

    Although the author is not a skilled writer, I enjoyed the book. Its a great, face-paced read. I found myself unable to put it down until I finished the entire book. It is my opinion that the author left out some details and although he admits his faults, I found myself angry at him for not helping and saving more lives. I wish he would have been a stronger man, but then again, he did what he had to in order to survive.

    8 out of 9 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted August 16, 2011

    Excellent for history buffs

    This is a very compelling book if you are the type who loves history, particularly WWII history. At 180 pages it is an easy read but a great read, however a dry read to those who take little interest in stories or accounts of the holocaust. Probably one of the best accounts out there as the author was witness to almost everything that happened within the walls of the most infamous death camp during the third reich.

    8 out of 9 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted February 4, 2012

    Brutal history

    I knew a survivor, have seen the number tattoo, have heard the stories. All horrific to think that human beings can do this to fellow man. If you want to learn anything... read this book. Just be prepared for some knowledge that might offend some people. So worth the read !!!!!!!

    7 out of 7 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted February 1, 2012

    VERY WELL WRITTEN

    THIS IS THE FIRST WAR CRIME BOOK I EVER READ AND FOUND IT TO BE VERY SAD, BUT INFORMATIVE...........MY HEART GOES OUT TO THE SURVIVOURS.

    7 out of 7 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 1, 2012

    Mezmerizing

    Read it in less than one day. Astonishing what cruelty some humans can bestow.......

    7 out of 8 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted October 29, 2011

    A nightmare experience to have survived

    Anything written by a survivor of the German concentration camps is horrorifing. Beyond anyone's possible imagination. Author had a special relationship with the notorious Dr. Death.
    You can feel the fear and terror the author lived through and his descriptions put you there.

    6 out of 11 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 5, 2012

    Self Absolving

    The author seems to skim over many atrocities in which he was a participant and uses this novel as a vehicle to self-absolve. I believe that the closer he comes to the end of his own journey the more his concious awakens and he feels the need to try and silence it. It would be interesting to hear the perspective of others who were at the camp with him.

    5 out of 7 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 18, 2011

    Not what u think

    keep an open mind. A Doctor wrote it. Try to "survive" the introduction, which is quite repeticious, to say the least. Undoubtedly this was a horrible time, in our history, and by no means should ever be forgotten. But Nyiszli seems to have had all the comforts & necessecities life offers...other then the struggles the camps dished out to millions. Judge for yourself.

    5 out of 11 people found this review helpful.

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