Inside the Gas Chambers: Eight Months in the Sonderkommando of Auschwitz
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Inside the Gas Chambers: Eight Months in the Sonderkommando of Auschwitz

4.31 of 5 stars 4.31  ·  rating details  ·  588 ratings  ·  52 reviews
This is a unique, eye-witness account of everyday life right at the heart of the Nazi extermination machine.Slomo Venezia was born into a poor Jewish-Italian community living in Thessaloniki, Greece. At first, the occupying Italians protected his family; but when the Germans invaded, the Venezias were deported to Auschwitz. His mother and sisters disappeared on arrival, an...more
Paperback, 202 pages
Published May 3rd 2011 by Polity Press (first published 2007)
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Lisa Vegan
I wasn’t sure how the interview format would work, but it created a wonderful account, better, I think, than if Shlomo Venezia had sat down and written the book on his own. It helped that this man was able to speak in great depth; many of the passages are long.

This really is his autobiography, as he starts with his childhood in Greece, and tells quite a bit about his early life and his family, who were originally from Italy.

He’s ruthlessly honest and I appreciated that, about himself, about the...more
Michael Flanagan
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Matthew Tree
About 90 members of the Jewish prisoner Sonderkommandos - whose jobs were to supervise the undressing of people before they were led into the gas chambers at Auschwitz, to clear out the corpses, remove hair and teeth from them, and carry them to the ovens or burn them in open pits (having ground their larger bones first) - managed to survive the war. Many of them, perhaps fearing (albeit wrongly) that they would be accused of collaboration in the murders of over a million people, kept their sile...more
Deena
So many things to say about this book...
First, this is not what I would categorize as a "beginner" memoir for Holocaust readers. It is probably the single most graphic book I have ever read; I found (quite literally) that eating anything while reading this was not a good idea. On a larger level, this isn't a good "beginner" choice because Mr. Venezia does not provide much in the way of larger context for his story, so unless you already know a fair bit about the structures of the Holocaust, it's...more
Pilvi
Jan 05, 2010 Pilvi rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: people interested in history
The book is a true story of what it was like to be a sonderkommando in Auschwitz-Birkenau. Sonderkommando was a male Jewish prisoner who had to escort other prisoners to the gas chambers, clean the chambers afterwards and burn the bodies. I read the book in Finnish (there's not an English version available yet), so I'll write the review in Finnish.

Eli kirja on Shlomo Venezian tarina kokemuksistaan sonderkommandona Auschwitz-Birkenaun keskitysleirillä. Sonderkommando oli juutalainen miesvanki, jo...more
Helmisade
Somehow reading this book made me feel ashamed. As if just being part of humanity makes me partly guilty of this horrendous story of cruelty and systematic destruction. It is a difficult book to read and the pictures are haunting, but the holocaust is a part of my cultural heritage, part of the world that I live in. People like Shlomo Venezia deserve to be heard and not forgotten, no matter how unpleasant it may be.

I was not previously familiar with the Sonderkommando, the unit forced by the Naz...more
Katya Vinogradova
"Inside the gas chambers" is an eye-witness account of the Holocaust. Shlomo Venezia was just a young Jewish man from Greece when Hitler announced his war on Jews, gypsies, Russians and everyone else who didn't subscribe to his world view. Shlomo lived through all the horrors of the Holocaust: secluded life in the ghetto, numerous transportations across Europe, several concentration camps and a long road to freedom. This is an honest account of the events, so it is not an easy or pleasant read....more
Steve Coscia
I liked the 'interview format' writing style. By sheer luck, Shlomo Venezia survived the death camps because he was healthy, smart and captured late in the war (in 1944). His eye witness testimony and candid remarks about his counterparts and captors make htis story very real. Most interesting was that he kept silent about his death camp until 1992. After the war, no one wanted to hear about life in the camps.
Jill Henricksen
This is the most informative/haunting book about the holocaust that I've read. I really connected with the author, as this is his first-hand account of what he went through. It was definitely a tough read, but I learned so much! Definitely not for light reading, but if you want a little more history, here you go...
Piperitapitta
27 gennaio 2014 - Giorno della Memoria

Da qualche anno ho deciso di celebrare la giornata della memoria, il 27 gennaio, leggendo un libro che ricordi la Shoah.
Quest'anno, in un periodo storico in cui il negazionismo sembra farsi largo sempre più prepotentemente, ho deciso di leggere «Sonderkommando Auschwitz» di Shlomo Venezia, perché il rischio di dimenticare, dopo che l'ultimo testimone oculare se ne sarà andato, sarà sempre in agguato, e soprattutto perché, come scriveva Hannah Arendt, «Non s...more
Kalyrohey
Entretien avec un survivant des Sonderkommando, les Kommando de déportés chargés de vider les chambres à gaz et de brûler les corps. Un témoignage édifiant, qui peut nous sembler incroyable ... et pourtant c'était vrai. A lire et faire lire, pour ne pas oublier.
Lauren Hopkins
Incredibly intense memoir of life in Auschwitz as a member of the Sonderkommando. Told through interviews with historians rather than as a narrative by the author himself, the book is very quick and to the point, though many of Venezia's memories and anecdotes from life in the camp make their way into his responses, making much of what he says incredibly emotional and heartfelt, especially when he discusses seeing his mother and younger sisters for the last time, looking at faces of people on th...more
Sama

السوندركومندو وحدات خاصة أختارها النازيون من اليهود المبعدين والواصلين إلى معسكرات النازيين للعمل تحت إمرتهم في تلك المعسكرات.

المؤلف شلومو فينيزيا أحد الذين أُختيروا وأجبروا للعمل في تلك الوحدات.
يعتبر الكتاب سيرة ذاتية أو شهادة ولمحة تاريخية من المؤلف على جرائم النازيين ضد اليهود والتي عرفت بالهولوكوست.

الكتاب ذو طابع حواري بإمكاننا أن نقسمه إلى ثلاثة مراحل في
المرحلة الأولى تحدث المؤلف فيها عن طفولته التي عاشها في اليونان مع عائلته التي فقدت معليها في وقت مبكر مما اضطره لتحمل المسؤولية تجاه عائ...more
Maria João
Já li, e continuarei a ler, inúmeros relatos e descrições da (nem tanto) longínqua 2ª Grande Guerra (SGG) e das suas atrocidades. O meu interesse possui o fito de não esquecer jamais o quanto a raça Humana se pode transmutar até atingir os limites do inenarrável. O conhecimento Histórico explica-nos o presente e deverá moldar-nos o futuro. A SGG e o indissociável genocídio dos Judeus e de outras minorias são o paradigma de que alguns momentos da História devem ser lembrados para evitar a sua rep...more
Sanna
I don't want to rate this book with stars, because I think I don't know how I could and would rate a book that tells about probably the most horrible thing in our world's history.

But still, I really liked how the book was written though. It tried to sound very natural, distant, maybe, but still very close and present. The main point was to tell nothing more than the truth.

I recommend this book to anyone, who wishes to know more about holocaust and what was really going on in Auschwitz.
Michelle
I read this book years ago, but I still remember it quite clearly.
It definitely touched me - how could it not?
The way of writing is very catchy, though - I dare say - not overdramatised, nor does it seek pity. Still, it desplays the terrible facts in a highly personal way.
It seems wrong to say that I "enjoyed" this book (considering the topic)... but it was a very quick read - I could not put it down!
I highly recommend it!
Kimberly
Shlomo Venezia was an Italian/Greek Jewish man living in Greece during the Second World War who spent 8 months in Auschwitz working in the Sonderkommando. It was only in the 1990s that he began talking about his experiences and this book was written in the early 2000s as the result of an interview. It is written in that style. The end of the book has an overview of some historical notes. I did really enjoy it, and it was well written and flowed very well. For all that it felt a bit odd reading i...more
David Peters
Why I read It
I like historical fiction and truly believe the awfulness of man's treatment of man should never be forgotten, lest it be relived.

The Good
You would be hard pressed to find a more accurate depiction of this horrific event. I cannot fathom how so many people were okay with this happening and actively participated in it (I am speaking of the Germans, specifically the SS).

The Bad
This book will disturb you on a fundamental level - as it should.

The Ugly (my opinion)
A terrible story that n...more
Daniel Vladimiro
Um testemunho impressionante sobre algo que ainda assim parece impossível de ter acontecido, um nível tão horroroso e baixo, que é importante conhecer, para nunca cair no esquecimento.
Não é um livro fácil de digerir.

Jolanda Bloechlinger
Ein sehr beeindruckendes Buch, das den Alltag in einem Konzentrationslager mal aus einem anderen Blickwinkel zeigt, naemlich aus der Sicht eines Mitgliedes des Sonderkommandos. Die Mitarbeiter des Sonderkommandos waren nicht etwa Deutsche, sondern Juden die ihre Landsleute in den Tod begleiten mussten. Beim Entkleiden helfen, keine Panik aufkommen lassen, Tuer zur Gaskammer schliessen, die Toten danach auf Wertgegenstaende untersuchen und die Leichen anschliessend verbrennen... Wahnsinn...Das Bu...more
G.Claudio
Shlomo Venezia... un sopravvissuto ai campi di sterminio, che fece parte per diversi mesi del sonderkommando (la squadra, di prigionieri ebrei, che lavorava all'interno dei "crematoi") del pi� grande e tristemente famoso lager nazista... Sappiamo tutti quello che � successo l� dentro... e se non lo sappiamo possiamo immaginarlo. Ma leggere la testimonianza diretta di una persona che quegli orrori li ha vissuti sulla propria pelle, � decisamente un'altra cosa... Libro triste, toccante, da leggere...more
Norbert
Molto bello

"La nostra è una malattia che ci rode dal di dentro e che distrugge ogni sentimento di felicità. Ce l'ho dal tempo della sofferenza del campo e non mi lascia mai un momento di felicità o spensieratezza, è uno stato d'animo che logora le mie forze continuamente.
[...]
Non ho più avuto una vita normale. Non ho mai potuto dire che tutto andasse bene e andare, come gli altri, a ballare e a divertirmi in allegria...
Tutto mi riporta al campo. Qualunque cosa faccia, qualunque cosa veda, il mio...more
Alena
It's not the first book about the Sonderkommando I've read, so I knew what was coming. The Sonderkommando was a group of Jewish men who were forced to work in the crematoriums of Birkenau, preparing the chambers for new transports with Jewish deportees, and after they were gassed getting them out of the chambers, sorting their clothes and valuables and burn the corpses in the ovens.

How anyone can survive this sort of hell will forever be beyond my grasp, just reading about it is beyond painful a...more
Antonio Rossano Mendes Pontes
An amazing journey through the true yet horrific years of Shlomo into the heart of the killing machine of Auschwitz-Birkenau. After four books on the demonic, dreadful atrocities that the Nazis did to jews, what most astonishes me is that I always find things that were unspeakably worse than the previous I had read. It is a black hole and I am falling deeper and deeper and I cannot stop, impelled by an overwhelming desire to reach the end and overcome this terrible suffering. At least I have som...more
Steve
Definitely not a light read. The descriptions of what this man and so many others endored is unbelievable and very disturbing to read. At the same time, I found it difficult to put down.
James
A disturbing yet fascinating read...a brave memoir and deeply touching. This is a book that needs to be read and remembered. bravo Shlomo!
Ruthy
Foi uma leitura comovente e penso que para o escritor terá feito um grande caminho desde que saiu de Auscwitz até conseguir contar tudo o que lá se passou. A ideia que me dá é que ao fim destes anos todos está feliz por ter sobrevivido para contar a história dos judeus que infelizmente não sobreviveram mas ainda carrega consigo o desgosto de ter feito parte dos Sonderkommando (brigada de judeus que recolhiam os corpos das câmaras de gás e os cremavam) e ter visto todo o terror que os seus compan...more
Monica
Really...what can be said about a book that recounts the memories of a man who was part of the Sonderdommando in Auschwitz? Slomo Venezia did what he had to do to survive the Holocaust...”helping deportees who had been selected for death to get undressed and to enter the gas chambers, then of taking away all those corpses , bodies intertwined with each other in their death struggles, to the crematorium ovens”.

I read this with great reverence and rememberance...because we can’t ever allow ourselv...more
Jane
The harrowing story of Shlomo Venezia is told in a factual, matter-of-fact voice. It was difficult for me to read this because it had so many similarities to the stories that my mother told me, e.g., her arrival at Auschwitz from the Lodz Ghetto and being severely beaten when separated from her mother who was sent directly to the gas chamber. It is testimony of man's inhumanity to man as well as the will to live regardless of how horrendous life had become. Not an easy book to read but well wort...more
Matti Karjalainen
Kreikanjuutalaisen Shlomo Venezian vaikuttava muistelmateos Auschwitzin keskitysleiriltä, jossa hän joutui toimimaan kaasukammioiden tyhjentämisestä vastanneessa sonderkommando-yksikössä. Venezia kertoo haastattelijalleen leirillä tapahtuneista kauheuksista kiihkottoman tarkasti, ja maalaa ahdistavan yksityiskohtaisin vedoin lukijan silmien eteen kuvan juutalaisten kansanmurhan synkimmästä luvusta. Lukekaa. "Jotta emme unohtaisi".
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