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Auschwitz: A Doctor's Eyewitness Account

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4.22 of 5 stars 4.22  ·  rating details  ·  7,009 ratings  ·  720 reviews
When the Nazis invaded Hungary in 1944, they sent virtually the entire Jewish population to Auschwitz. A Jew and a medical doctor, the prisoner Dr. Miklos Nyiszli was spared death for a grimmer fate: to perform "scientific research" on his fellow inmates under the supervision of the man who became known as the infamous "Angel of Death" - Dr. Josef Mengele. Nyiszli was name...more
Paperback, 222 pages
Published September 1st 2007 by Arcade Publishing (first published 1946)
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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Paul
Unfortunately, it seems to me that Holocaust memoirs can at this distance in space and time become something they were not meant to be, something disreputable, something akin to the torture porn of modern horror movies like Saw or Hostel. If you read a number of these memoirs you get to be a connoisseur of atrocities. When you find yourself being able to explain why Mauthausen was worse than Dachau, and how Treblinka and Chelmno differed from Stutthof and who Irma Grese was, and you are not your...more
Arnab Das
To say that Aushwitz is an interesting read would be a gross understatement. Aushwitz is a historical document. A memoir. A brilliant commentary. And most importantly an insider's tale of the horrors that the captives of one of the most dreadful concentration camps in history underwent. As a result, an attempt to rate the book on its literary value is not only a useless exercise but also a disrespectful one.

Dr. Nyiszli's account portrays the terrible crimes and the injustice meted out to the Jew...more
Maureen Casey
This was a short and gripping read, and tells a story that must never be forgotten.

I am writing this review not to comment on the story itself, but in response to some of the criticisms I have read about the book.

Criticism #1: Dr Miklos Nyiszli was at Birkenau rather than Auschwitz, and there are several inconsistencies in the book between Auschwitz and Birkenau.

Response: Auschwitz and Birkenau were part of one larger complex collectively called Auschwitz. I believe that perhaps the colloquia...more
Amanda
Mar 12, 2007 Amanda rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: Everyone
Despite the incredibly difficult subject matter, this book was a surprisingly fast read. Equally horrifying and compelling, both my roommate and I read it cover to cover within 24 hours. Nyiszli's story is remarkable, as a man who survived certain death by systematically aiding in the killing of his own people, bringing into question the true cost of survival. His narrative is invaluable, as it preserves a virtually clinical dictation of what truly transpired from within the ranks. This preserva...more
Rich Weiss
I have read a number of books about the holocaust, mainly from those who were imprisoned in Auschwitz or several of the other concentration/death camps. This was the only book from the perspective of a "prisoner" who received special treatment because he was selected to assist Dr. Joseph Mengele.

The emotion didn't hit home with me. Although Nyiszli explained what happened in the camp, he didn't impart a personal feeling of terror. What's more, he sanitized his role in medical experiments, indica...more
Rebecca
Really, I probably need a few days to digest this book before I review it, but here are some of my thoughts:

1. I've read many books about the holocaust, but this is the first personal account of life directly within a death camp that I've read. Though I knew some of the horrors that went inside, I had no idea how atrocious they were, or that they were committed in the name of science. I'm sure there was much omitted from Dr. Nyiszli's account, but this book gives the reader a fairly good idea of...more
Kimberly
I find it hard to write an accurate review of this book. The topic of the book does not lend itself to be titled a "good book", but the story was gripping and detailed and it was hard to walk away from the book, regardless of the topic.

While the book was written clearly in the style of someone who is used to detaching themselves emotionally and sticking with facts, I think it helps in getting across the points he wished to accomplish. The facts and numbers are so staggering that it sometimes fe...more
Petra
How does one rate a book like this? It doesn't tell a story, it's a memoir and an account of witness. It's a telling that needs to be told but it's not a comfortable read. The people in this book, those who can't tell their stories, need to have their story told. But it's not easy (and it shouldn't be).
Five stars for the courage to tell the story. Five stars for remembering those who can't tell their story.
The author tells his story in an unemotional way. As I read his account I began to under...more
Mel
There are some books that you just can't comment on. Not because you have nothing to say, but because there simply are no words to express how you feel about what you've read. If I could propose a review in images only, they would be the following:

-shocked gaze of a brown eye
-faces, bleak with despair
-clouds of black smoke
-a flash of stainless steel
-shimmer of gold on bone
-orange flames streaming from chimneys

I read this account because I had studied bits of the holocaust in University, and hav...more
Megan Marie
Generally, I dislike non-fiction. Which sounds insane when you think that my major in college is history, but there it is all the same. I tend to avoid reading non-fiction unless I have to for school, which is how the reading of this book around. I am currently enrolled in a World War II class and for our mid-term exam we are to write a paper over a book on some aspect of the war and how it has changed our understanding of the subject.
Now I have read quite a lot about the Holocaust and have eve...more
Taylor
Jun 23, 2012 Taylor added it
Shelves: history, non-fiction

This isn't a literary masterpiece, and it makes no claims to be. It is a rehashing of one man's experience working in the worst part of the concentration camp. These are not the kinds of books that you enjoy, but I believe they must be read and committed to memory and nothing infuriates me more then when they are dismissed as depressing or unnecessary.
Holocaust deniers use Nyiszli's account to poke holes in his story and bolster their claims while others criticize the coldness with which he rela...more
Anne
Aug 23, 2013 Anne rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: Historians and WWII readers
This is not an easy book to read. it concerns the eyewitness account of a Hungarian Jewish doctor who was able to survive in Auschwitz by using his skills to assist the German doctors there, led by Josef Mengele, the notorious "Angel of death." he tells how the doctors would wait for the arrivals, and choose whether they would live or die-right-life by labour, left-immediate death in the gas chambers. because he Uses his medical skills are used to care for the Sonderkommando, the Jewish prisoner...more
Marialyce
I really felt that this was an important book to read. However, I just could not get over the lack of emotion I felt running through the story. I don't know if it was a defense mechanism against the horrors that this doctor saw, or if it was a somewhat hardened outlook on what transpired in the camp. I realize that one probably needed to develop a shell or cocoon around oneself in order to not go insane, but I wanted some emotion to bubble to the surface which unfortunately I did not find. I rea...more
FrozenbySloth
May 06, 2014 FrozenbySloth added it
Recommends it for: Everybody
I'm not sure how one "rates" a book like this. By the writing style or the plot progression?
The man who wrote this was not a poet, and he was not trying to write a novel. This is a factual retelling of something that is beyond gruesome, and even if we went so far as to call it a "plot", rating history is a ridiculous concept.
So I'll leave this one unrated and say only that despite everything, this is something people must read, and I urge everybody to find the fortitude to do it.

Honestly, what...more
Kevin
This book was an account written by a Hungarian Jewish doctor who assisted Dr Mengele at the Auschwitz death camp. I personally ended up disliking the doctor who wrote this very much. He worked directly for the butcher Mengele but seemed rather glib about the whole thing and didn't go into depth of the horrific experiments actually preformed. I guess I just don't understand how you could stand by and assist those who are systematically destroying your entire race. There is more than one account...more
Zohar - ManOfLaBook.com
Auschwitz: A Doctor's Eye­wit­ness Account by Dr. Mik­lós Nyis­zli is a non-fiction mem­oir of a Jew­ish Hun­gar­ian med­ical doc­tor who per­formed “research” on other Jews with the evil Dr. Josef Men­gele aka "Angel of Death". This is not an easy book to read, but an impor­tant one.

Dr. Mik­lós Nyis­zli, a Jew as well as a med­ical doc­tor, was sent to Auschwitz when the Nazis invaded Hun­gary in 1944. Dr. Nyis­zli — No. A8450– was picked by the mon­ster him­self, Dr. Josef Men­gele, to per­for...more
Oliver
The other day I heard Terri Gross talking to Eric Larsson about his latest book. I haven't read that one but, I gather from the interview that it is set during the build up to WWII in Nazi Germany. At one point Larsson mentioned Josef Mengele. I had heard his name before but never really knew what his role was for the Nazis. After a quick wikipedia consultation and my discovery that Mengele was responsible for the human medical experiments perpetrated at Auschwitz I decided I should go read a bo...more
Jayme
Great personal account of the horrible atrocities that took place at Auschwitz. This account is provided by a Jew that was forced to help the Germans with their medical experiments they preformed on the prisoners. The most intriguing part of this book is the way that you feel about the author as you read. For example, Nyiszli documents step by step how the Jews (and others) were butchered in the gas houses and crematoriums right before saying he had to take a nap. It is hard to feel sorry for so...more
Eva Leger
I sometimes find it terribly hard to rate Holocaust related books. The odd thing is that sometimes it's not very hard and there doesn't seem to be any obvious rhyme or reason to this. I'm having a hard time with this one.
The book is very informative - I've read a decent number of Holocaust books, many memoirs by Aushwitz survivors and I've even read a few by survivors who were in some way in a "special" role there. Nyiszli was, basically, the man who did the autopsies, some experiments, some mu...more
Abraham
Miklos Nyiszli Auschwitz: A Doctor's Eyewitness Account

Plot:

Auschwitz was one of the first books to bring the full horror of the Nazi death camps to the American public; this is, as the New York Review of Books said, "the best brief account of the Auschwitz experience available."

When the Nazi invaded Hungary in 1944, they sent virtually the entire Jewish population to Auschwitz. A Jew and a medical doctor, the prisoner Dr. Miklos Nyiszli was spared death for a grimmer fate: to perform "scientifi...more
Becky
4.5 Stars!!

As expected, this book was heart wrenching and disturbing. An insightful account into life at Auschwitz written by a doctor who unfortunately had first hand experience there.
Nyiszli's writing was great, which I didn't really expect as I thought this would be more of a documentary about his position as a doctor. Although the book did describe some of his work (which I'm sure would have been more greatly appreciated by someone who knows about the subject) was explained effectively, but...more
Al Swanson
While I'm no stranger to either books about war or about WWII in particular, this was a tough read. I've read my share (and more than likely yours, too) of books about the 'jewish question', as well. From 'The Nazi Doctors' to 'Survival at Auschwitz', I've read a few. Still, this one was written, not just by an eyewitness, but by a jewish doctor working for Mengele - the Angel of Death.

Still, this could be a book that just tells a tale. Except that somehow, the doctor also becomes a writer. His...more
Etta Mcquade
Even though the events in this book are gruesome, they need to be told, and read, so that no one ever forgets what happened at Auschwitz or anywhere else during the Holocaust. The fact that it's an eyewitness account of a Jewish doctor and prisoner makes the book extremely important. Dr. Nyiszli volunteered himself, thus sparing his life, and became the research pathologist to Dr. Josef Mengele, the infamous "Angel of Death," to carry out medical experiements and autotopsies on twins and dwarfs....more
Paul
Despite the short chapters and relatively easy language, this book is difficult to read, but for more reasons than initially meet the eye. Of course, any book describing life (and, more poignantly, death) in the Nazi concentration camps is going to be a brutal, difficult book to read, much less to absorb and reflect upon. But, as Bruno Bettelheim describes in his foreword, this book is made even more difficult by the fact that it is written by a Jewish doctor who served under the notorious Josef...more
Kathy
Written by one of the only surviving members of the Sonderkommando, the author was a Jewish pathologist who was hand-picked by Mengele to be his number one assistant. Although this gave him unimaginable privileges and luxuries compared to the majority of the camp's inmates, the actions he was forced to take in assisting Dr. Mengele and the things he witnessed first-hand makes his position of prestige a questionable one. In other words, it is difficult to decide whether his duties were, in a way,...more
Stephanie
I've read a lot of memoirs and accounts of the Holocaust, but this was by far one of the most compelling I've read on the subject. Dr. Nyiszli, his wife and teenaged daughter, were sent to Auschwitz from Hungary in May 1944. Because of Dr. Nyiszli's background as a pathologist and his impeccable German, he is selected from the moment he gets there to be the infamous Dr. Mengele's pet. In other words, Dr. Nyiszli was forced to perform autopsies on hundreds of murdered Jews and Gypsies, many of th...more
Holly
When the Nazis invaded Hungary in 1944, they sent virtually the entire Jewish population to Auschwitz. A Jew and a medical doctor, the prisoner Dr. Miklos Nyiszli was spared death for a grimmer fate: to perform "scientific research" on his fellow inmates under the supervision of the man who became known as the infamous "Angel of Death" - Dr. Josef Mengele. Nyiszli was named Mengele's personal research pathologist. In that capactity he also served as physician to the Sonderkommando, the Jewish pr...more
Elizabeth
This book was written by a Hungarian Jewish physician who was shipped to Auschwitz in 1944. Until then the Hungarian Jews had not been deported. Dr. Mengele, the Nazi madman physician, needed a pathologist to do autopsies on the people he experimented on. The author was a pathologist and so was chosen. You can imagine what a horrible position this was. He got to live because he was a pathologist yet he had to witness the horroble things Dr. Mengele did as well as the daily snuffing out of thousa...more
Jodi
My uncle reccommeded this book to me because my grandfather liberated this camp when he was in the war. At the end of this book it tells about how a US light tank comes in to set them all free and my grandpa was in that tank. For years I have heard throught the family about that day so for me this was a great book with lots of insight so I was able to make the connection between what was happening in the camps up to the point of where my grandfathers stories start.
Komal Mehta
This one should be the longest and most difficult read for me, yet the simplest fact that it is a true story makes it the best read of mine so far of the year. Even after finishing it gave me shivers almost the whole night, and i kept on asking myself:

0 was life so cheap for third reich to throw any human, away like a dead corpse in a pyre?
0 how difficult it must had been to live than to die in third reich?
0 even those who were still alive in those concentration camps, how were they ever able to...more
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Huntsville-Madiso...: Staff pick -- Auschwitz 1 7 Jun 23, 2012 07:10PM  
  • Children of the Flames: Dr. Josef Mengele and the Untold Story of the Twins of Auschwitz
  • Eyewitness Auschwitz: Three Years in the Gas Chambers
  • The Nazi Doctors: Medical Killing and the Psychology of Genocide
  • Five Chimneys: A Woman Survivor's True Story of Auschwitz (aka I Survived Hitler's Ovens)
  • The Last Jew of Treblinka
  • Auschwitz: True Tales from a Grotesque Land
  • Inside the Gas Chambers: Eight Months in the Sonderkommando of Auschwitz
  • Doctors from Hell: The Horrific Account of Nazi Experiments on Humans
  • Death Dealer: The Memoirs of the SS Kommandant at Auschwitz
  • The Dentist of Auschwitz: A Memoir
  • Masters of Death: The SS-Einsatzgruppen and the Invention of the Holocaust
  • Scheisshaus Luck: Surviving the Unspeakable in Auschwitz and Dora
  • Mengele: The Complete Story
  • Witness: Voices from the Holocaust
  • I Shall Live: Surviving the Holocaust Against All Odds
  • The Holocaust
  • Surviving the Angel of Death: The Story of a Mengele Twin in Auschwitz
  • Into That Darkness: An Examination of Conscience
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Miklós Nyiszli (June 17, 1901 in Szilágysomlyó, Hungary – May 5, 1956) was a Jewish prisoner at the Auschwitz concentration camp. Nyiszli, along with his wife and young daughter, were transported to Auschwitz in June 1944. On arrival, Nyiszli volunteered himself as a doctor and was sent to work at number 12 barracks where he operated on and tried to help the ill with only the most basic medical su...more
More about Miklós Nyiszli...

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