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Auschwitz: True Tales From a Grotesque Land

4.17  ·  Rating Details  ·  1,521 Ratings  ·  38 Reviews
"From the moment I got to Auschwitz I was completely detached. I disconnected my heart and intellect in an act of self-defense, despair, and hopelessness." With these words Sara Nomberg-Przytyk begins this painful and compelling account of her experiences while imprisoned for two years in the infamous death camp. Writing twenty years after her liberation, she recreates the ...more
Kindle Edition, 197 pages
Published (first published January 1st 1985)
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If you are only going to read one book about Auschwitz, let this be the one. Sara Nomberg-Przytyk did an excellent job of conveying the atmosphere of the place, all those people trying to live surrounded by death and the deepest despair imaginable. It's the stuff of nightmares. I could see everything she wrote about, like on a grainy black and white film (for how can there be color in Auschwitz?) in my head.

I do, however, dearly wish it had been subject to fact-checking before publishing. I am s
Eva Leger
Again, seeing that this is apparently targeting the YA audience, I just can't agree. He/She would have to be a very mature young adult before I handed them this book. Maybe I'm not giving young people enough credit but the stories included here I wouldn't want my daughter reading at a young age. I'm 100% for knowledge, most especially of anything like this, but one has to be able to process the information being learned or no good will come from it, only pain, if anything.
That being said, this
Sep 02, 2012 Ris rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: loved
This may be the best book I have read on the subject. She brings the characters to life. As she tells each person's story- you do not know what their fate will be. Some disappear and we never know, some are killed and some miraculously make it through the war. This book shares so many people's different experiences- it is both heartbreaking and astounding. It is a must read if you want to know the ins and outs of how they survived (or didn't) camp life during this horrific period. Almost unbelie ...more
Terri Lynn
If I could give this short, powerful nonfiction book of Sara Nomberg-Przytyk's experiences in Auschwitz, Ravensbruck, and on to her return to Poland after her freedom a million stars, I would. I have literally read thousands of Holocaust books but this was so unique, it blew me away. There is no other book that covers what is covered here through stories of the people Sara describes and the events she describes so simply. You will feel as if you are there and puzzle over the people and issues sh ...more
Michelle Luksh
May 23, 2014 Michelle Luksh rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Whenever I am reading or finish a book about the Holocaust written by a survivor, I struggle deeply with "rating" such a book. My moral compass goes wild as I try to give honest feedback on a piece existing because of such extreme conditions, yet I don't want to entirely misrepresent my thoughts on the book's content based on my empathetic and ethical reasoning.

But that being said, I will always take into consideration where these books are coming from and how, as readers and writers, we should
Jul 22, 2012 Sarah rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This book by Sara Nomberg-Przytyk is definitely not for the squeamish or easily upset. But I for one think it’s very important to read about the Holocaust.
We need to read about the people who died, and the people who were left behind, we need to remember the concentration camps and the horrible things that happened there.
The author, Sara Nomberg-Przytyk spent a number of years in Auschwitz, the worst concentration camp of all. In the end, she was liberated and survived her ordeal. However, she w
Apr 07, 2011 Josh rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Auschwitz: True Tales From a Grotesque Land by Sara Nomberg-Przytyk is a astonishingly powerful book, that takes you into the world of one of the most brutal concentration camps of all time. Sara writes how the cruel and deceitful life in the camp was truly more inflicting then anyone could imagine, considering that the people were whipped and gathered into gas chambers. In one of the chapters, a girl was put inside one of the gas chamber except she jumped out of the window before the gas was r ...more
Oct 01, 2012 Lynette rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2012
When you're a kid, you read books like The Devil's Arithmetic, and you're horrified at all those things that happened SOOOO long ago. After all, when you're a kid, forty years ago is an eternity.

And then you grow up, and you realize that WWII wasn't all that long ago. The people who were in the concentration camps weren't so different from us. I cannot imagine being loaded onto a train and taken to a camp. The humility. The dehumanization. How on earth did any of those people survive? How do you
Getting to read from the perspective of a woman in a concentration camp was new to me, and I appreciated the insight that came with what seemed a greater sensitivity to human emotion and the phenomenological experiences of different individuals. The literary descriptions of the text made each account more tangible--I felt closer to those involved while reading this book than I did throughout Primo Levi's work on Auschwitz.
Sep 01, 2013 Heather rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book was VERY hard to read! It is good and educational but what these people went through was hell and no one should ever have to endure what they did.
Jun 28, 2010 Kimberlee rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
The author cleverly weaves fiction into the non-fiction account of some of her experiences at Auschwitz. While some of the events are more folk tale that historical fact, that hardly matters against the backdrop of the Holocaust's most notorious death camp where, even if an event didn't happen exactly like Ms. Nomberg-Przytzk relates it, or at all, the moments being shown exist like ghosts - a palimpsest with reality. They're believable because they easily could have happened that way, with no s ...more
Nov 28, 2007 Laurie rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: those who are interested in reading about the Holocaust from a slightly sociological perspective.
It took me a while to finish this book because the (true) stories within it can, of course, be difficult to read. Nonetheless, this book is different than the other personal account I read of being in a concentration camp, Night, because this book asks a lot of questions of human nature in a sociological manner...especially towards the last 1/3 of the book.

For the most part, I appreciated these questions because I majored in sociology. These questions and Sara's stories made me feel really close
Vicki Gundrum
Jul 30, 2013 Vicki Gundrum rated it it was amazing
A book written as first-person, eyewitness accounts of life in Auschwitz is somehow beyond star-review land. The book's existence justifies its worth, but it is also engaging, heartbreaking, and a success in storytelling. The tales mirror a short, classic (Polish, I think) folk-tale style. The power comes from the use of individuals' names and dialog and interactions. You learn about prisoners and their sorrows and their hopes, both dashed and living hopes, the living hopes are their victories. ...more
Oct 27, 2014 Danielle rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
As always, a memoir of the Holocaust is terrifying. Nomberg goes into much detail on some events, and it really pulls the reader in. Her book is interesting, because you feel almost as if there is a magical force following her around--she comes upon crazy luck that keeps her alive.
Dec 02, 2014 Gustavo rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Really horrible to think of this happening, but it gave it a human part that was much needed.
Feb 21, 2008 Amy rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This account of the Holocaust will always stand out to me among all of the others due to the author's intense appreciation of beauty. The fact that she was able to perceive any beauty at all in a concentration camp is mindblowing to begin with, but that she remembers it with such detail shows that it wasn't an afterthought. Admist all the horrific events that she describes, the author was able to pick out moments of intense adoration for her fellow prisoners. These moments make the majority of u ...more
Cassie Marceau
Apr 02, 2014 Cassie Marceau rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Its a really good book that goes into detail when you dont really want it to. There are many sad parts that have to do with the Holocaust, some parts brought me to tears
Aug 12, 2011 Steve rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
The most descriptive character-driven holocaust book I've read. Recommended for the story, not so much for it's truthfulness. I understand there were some plot and character details taken for granted, but it is difficult to critique a book such as this. As always, quite a disturbing read.
Kendall Nielsen
Sep 04, 2011 Kendall Nielsen rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Very strong and hard book to read. Auschwitz: True Tales from a Grotesque Land is written from the perspective of a nurse working in the hospital at Auschwitz. It provides context to many of the horrific things that occurred At Auschwitz. Very powerful book.
Dec 08, 2008 Hannah rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
This was a hard book to read!!! Gruesome and graphic deathly details of this death camp in Germany during WWII! It's so sick to hear of the mass murder of millions! A very good, interesting, well-written book written by a survivor! Age 18+!
Heather S Vieux Lonczak
Truly amazing; I've read it twice. A book that never leaves you; becomes part of you. Anyone who wants to know about the Auschwitz experience, which is an entity in and of itself - it's own twisted, inexplicably dimented civilization, must read it.
Apr 11, 2014 Kim rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I have read a lot of WWII survival stories but this one stands out in my mind. Told with a very narrow scope on Camp life with emphasis on what it takes to survive and almost no back story from the narrator
Sep 03, 2012 Iva rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition

This was another exceptional book written by a survivor of the horrors of the holocaust. The insight into fellow prisoner's experiences and feelings was revealing and heart-breaking.
Amber Whitney
Sep 06, 2013 Amber Whitney rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This book stunned me to my core. I have finally imagined the depravity of humanity at its very Heart. What a stunning book. Everyone must read
Apr 06, 2016 Jenine rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This was a haunting story that focused on different people's stories and actions throughout the Holocaust. It's very haunting.
Sep 23, 2010 Karen rated it really liked it
How awful we can be to each other. This book just reinforces the terrible price many faced for life.
May 20, 2013 Kayla rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Great book that tells the narrator's experiences through short stories about other prisoners. A MUST READ.
May 30, 2013 Nicole rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Very touching story and I have never read a more detailed account of life in Auschwitz.
Aug 10, 2011 Sue rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
After having visited Auschwitz, I get tears just thinking about it. Very emotional.
Oct 18, 2007 Deborah rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
eyeopening account of the tragic memoirs of life in a concentration camp
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“one of the plagues that God sent on the Egyptians was lice. This was a plague in whose presence we were helpless. The lice were big and white, each with a black cross on its back. They feasted on us day and night. This was an enemy whom you had to fight—search and destroy. When I went to the bathroom at night I would see women standing near the electric lamp that gave off a faint light, searching for lice in their clothes. One would leave her position near the light, and immediately someone would take her place.” 0 likes
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