Book Reviews

Lass uns über Auschwitz sprechen
Bettina Schaefer (ed.)

Lass uns über Auschwitz sprechen

Brandes & Apsel, Frankfurt 2009

Frau Schaefer has, for this first source book of Auschwitz as a place of remembrance, collected in-depth interviews in and around the camp with
different groups of people, asking them about their relation to the concentration camp and how it affects their lives.

The first group is "Zeitzeugen". One of those witnesses, Henryk Mandelbaum, I found totally compelling. He was a member of the "Sonderkommando", and had to bring the dead from the gas chambers to the mass graves or crematoria. His gruesome report is so bare of any sign of emotions that one senses with tremor what that "job" did to him.

The second group is "Multiplikatoren", amongst them Poles, Israelis and Germans, Jews and non-Jews.

The third is "Museum" and portrays the views of Auschwitz Museum staff.

Then come "Freiwillige" (Germans and Austrian young people), "Besucher" with interviews with German, Austrian and Israeli pupils and students, and finally

"Die Stadt Oswiecim und ihr Umland" where ordinary people who live close to Auschwitz, amongst them the major of Oswiecim , tell about their experiences with Auschwitz and what it means to live in proximity of the camp.

The book has been compiled with great care, lots of love to the subject and to a high standard of accuracy of transcription. It is a selection of sources
only, the interviews are  presented just the way they have been conducted. No discussion about the topics the interviewees raise has been added. Facts have been checked by a member of the "Zentrum für Antisemitismusforschung", though.

In the Preface Micha Brumlik writes: "the book offers the long awaited and really necessary addition to the already existent and available 'objective'
presentation of the Auschwitz Memorial - a very personal, almost intim insight into the experiences, views and emotional feelings of all those people, who - with very different tasks, different interest - and of course, conclusions for their being & further life - year by year, work there, visit it, and care
for, the memorial as well for the visitors".

Michael Fischer, formerly Assistant Librarian, OCHJS

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