Remembering Survival: Inside a Nazi Slave-Labor Campby Christopher R. Browning
Pub. Date: 01/10/2011
Publisher: Norton, W. W. & Company, Inc.
Employing the rich testimony of almost three hundred survivors of the slave-labor camps of Starachowice, Poland, Christopher R. Browning draws the experiences of the Jewish prisoners, the Nazi authorities, and the neighboring Poles together into a chilling history of a
"An important, revealing story, exceptionally well told."Jonathan Yardley, Washington Post
Employing the rich testimony of almost three hundred survivors of the slave-labor camps of Starachowice, Poland, Christopher R. Browning draws the experiences of the Jewish prisoners, the Nazi authorities, and the neighboring Poles together into a chilling history of a little-known dimension of the Holocaust. Brutal and deadly in their living and work conditions, these camps represented the only chance of survival for local Jews after the ghetto liquidations of 1942. There they produced munitions for the German war effort while scrambling to survive murderous and corrupt camp regimes and desperately trying to protect children, spouses, parents, and neighbors. When the labor camps closed in the summer of 1944, the surviving Starachowice Jews still had to confront Auschwitz and then the reprisals of anti-Semitic Polish neighbors. Combining harrowing detail and insightful analysis, Browning's history is indispensable scholarship and an unforgettable story of survival.
- Norton, W. W. & Company, Inc.
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Rotton Nazis Hate Hitler Stupid Nazis and i hate Hitler Poor Jews
This non-fiction work explores the background and wartime experiences of a large group of Jews enslaved by the Nazis in factories in their hometown (Starachowice/Wierzbnick) located in central Poland. The factories were essential to the German war effort. The Jews were housed in slave-labor camps built to purpose, also in/near their town. The Jews of the town, with backgrounds running from the secular to the orthodox, at the outset of the occupation were concentrated into a "ghetto" by the Nazis, but allowed to work. In an "aktion" in Autumn 1942, those ostensibly able to work were marched off to newly-created "work camps", while the balance of theie families were shipped directly to Treblinka for extermination. This book focuses on the sensitive interrelationship between Polish anti-Semitism, the Nazi-imposed regime in the camps (guarded by Ukrainians under Nazi authority and direction), Jewish self-leadership within the camps (and as altered by subsequent shipments of workers from other towns/camps), work in the factories, and the overarching Nazi plan for a Final Solution. It is extremely well-researched and accurately footnoted, with sources ranging from Nazi records of that era, to subsequent war crimes trials, to survivor interviews. The author makes manifest attempts to remain objective, but occasionally lapses into normative assumptions or judgments which are perhaps outside of a historian's proper role. Additionally, I would have liked to see more detailed descriptions of the work the Jews did, so as to enhance my appreciation of their daily lives. Nevertheless, while most Holocaust literature examines concentration/extermination camps, this book is quite unique in that it explores life -- and the attempt to maintain life -- in a working (slave labor) environment subject to only intermittent harassment (depending on the Nazi camp direction). The ultimate (happy) irony is that, due to the inmates' pre-selection as healthy workers, when the work camps were liquidated and the inmates shipped off to Auschwitz/Birkenau they were exempted from inspection and "selection" on the Birkenau platform/ramp, thus sparing them at least temporarily from the ovens. As a result, an unusually large proportion of them, especially among the women, survived the War. One of these women was my mother. The book moves chronologically and consistently, and remembers to follow up on many "individual" stories, as it should... for this is after all the unique history of the survival of a group of individuals from family life through ghetto life through slave-labor camps and extermination camps and death marches. It is really quite good reading for historians, students of history, as well as those interested in the Holocaust experience.