Title: Auschwitz: A Doctor’s Eyewitness Account
Author: Miklos Nyiszli, translator Richard Seaver
Publisher: Arcade Publishing
Copyright: 1960, 2011 by Miklos Nyiszli; translation copyright 1993, 2011 by Richard Seaver
Reason for Reading: Overwhelming curiosity as to how someone in Nyiszli’s shoes could make the choices he made
As I said last week, it would take some time for me to finish this book, and it definitely did that. It was painful. Reading, for example, Nyiszli’s accounts of saving a teenage girl who somehow survived the Zyklon-B gassing that took the lives of every other Jew in the chamber, only to have her summarily executed almost immediately, was agonizing.
After having completed the book, I also say that I have to question Bettelheim’s foreword. Based on that, I was expecting to find that Nyiszli was kowtowing to Mengele and the SS, and praising the pseudo-scientific studies being conducted. Far from it. He recognized and referred to the studies as pseudo-scientific. He did what he had to do to survive. And in the long run, that is what we all do.
Except for those millions of Jews who obediently walked to their deaths. Nyiszli refers to the horrific conditions in the camps and on the marches, but his tales are nothing new to anyone who has ever studied the Holocaust. The questions are still unanswered. Perhaps the answers never will come.