Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “Auschwitz” as Want to Read:
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview


4.28  ·  Rating details ·  15,966 ratings  ·  490 reviews
In this compelling book, highly acclaimed author and broadcaster Laurence Rees tells the definitive history of the most notorious Nazi institution of them all. We discover how Auschwitz evolved from a concentration camp for Polish political prisoners into the site of the largest mass murder in history - part death camp, part concentration camp, where around a million Jews ...more
Hardcover, 320 pages
Published January 6th 2005 by BBC Books (first published January 2nd 2005)
More Details... Edit Details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about Auschwitz, please sign up.

Be the first to ask a question about Auschwitz

This book is not yet featured on Listopia. Add this book to your favorite list »

Community Reviews

Showing 1-30
Average rating 4.28  · 
Rating details
 ·  15,966 ratings  ·  490 reviews

More filters
Sort order
Start your review of Auschwitz
Michael Finocchiaro
I felt that this was an extremely well-researched and well-written account of this episode of the cruelest man has ever been to one's fellow humans. It is the harrowing account of the creation of Auschwitz (with notable parentheses about the other camps and the overall context in which they were created and were operated). I visited Auschwitz days after finishing the book and felt prepared for the horrors that awaited me and also felt I got much more out of the experience since I felt relatively ...more
Paul Bryant
Aug 10, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition


When you read about the Nazis there's always this strange contradiction - their famous obsession with order, with following orders, with classification, rules, hierarchy, and all of that, is superimposed upon a regime which was most of the time in chaos, ministries competing with other ministries, states (the SS) within states; for many really big projects there was a culture of no written orders, and in many cases major policies were made up on the spot.
The answer to
Jul 13, 2008 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
My favorite quote I now live by came from this book....
when a survivor was asked how he made it through Auschwitz, he replied "worse things have happened to better people". I think twice about my woes when I think of his response...
Ammara Abid
Feb 06, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
"The real bloodbath was about to begin."

One word for it,
I don't know what else to say, I'm too dumbfounded to speak.

"Having suffered in the camp himself for nearly two years, Paczyńński felt no great emotion as he saw these people go to their deaths: “One becomes indifferent. Today you go, tomorrow I will go. You become indifferent. A human being can get used to anything.”
Jun 06, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Laurence Rees traces the history of Auschwitz, and uses it as a lens to view the progression of the wider Holocaust. It’s hard to describe something like this as “enjoyable“ but it’s a very interesting - and in my view necessary - book.
Jun 10, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
When it comes to complex topics like the Holocaust, I think it's helpful to read from a number of sources. And often, the best books are those that offer us something new, either by presenting a piece of the puzzle that was missing or perhaps adding additional perspective that affords us a new way of looking at an old piece, allowing us to better place it.

I'm not sure I can do a book like this justice in a review other than to say it was an excellent compliment to other readings I've done to thi
K.D. Absolutely
This historical non-fiction is 300 pages but I spent only 3 working days (which means I read only at home - late evening and early morning) to finish it. I just could not put it down. It is well-reseached and contains interviews of the survivors not only the Jews from diffent countries (Poland, France, Italy, Slovakia, Hungary, Belgium and Netherlands, etc) but also the other groups like gypsies, Jehova's Witness, etc.
Previously, my only knowledge about Holocaust was those from watching Schindl
I've read countless books on the holocaust. I've taken classes on Genocide. The pages I've read and absorbed on hate, suffering and the amazing will to survive will never leave me. Books on Hitler. Nazis. Speer. Höss. Goebbels. Even Eva. Germany. France. Russia. Hungary. Poland. Ghettos. Stars. Treblinka. Sobibor. Ravensbruk. Dachau. And of course, Auschwitz. I've been there. I've made that climb to the Eagles Nest and viewed that panoramic sky. It's downright evil that such a place of beauty ev ...more
Dec 01, 2010 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: world-war-ii
The 5 stars I gave are not oh my gosh this was amazing 5 stars. It was I am completely speechless and cannot believe what I did not know 5 stars. I only write these reviews to print them out in my journal so 30 years from now I can laugh at how dumb I was. Or to see what I thought when I re read something. There were times in this book I went and hid in my room to cry so my wife couldn't see me. I have had countless sleepless nights. My kids have yelled out in their sleep and I have dashed into ...more
Oct 19, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I know a lot about WW2 history and the crimes that took place at Aushwitz however this book gave me a more detailed account of what went on there. The story’s are chilling and disturbing to know that human beings can do this to one another is horrifying. But at the same time some of the story’s of the inmates were full of courage and hope that one day this evil would end and it did!!!

I believe everyone should read this book and that we never forget the 1.1 million lives lost at Aushwitz 🌺
Jan 16, 2008 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Auschwitz: A New History was filled with new facts and numerous interviews with survivors and former SS. I liked the detailed interviews which spanned from Jewish people from numerous countries that turned them over to the Reich, gypsies, POWs, Jehovah's Witness, and other groups of people that in most books might have been passed over. It obviously gives more facts about the atrocities that occurred at Auschwitz then the other camps, but all the camps are brought up throughout the book. The inf ...more
Nov 27, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I would like to preface this review by stating that I have read a great deal of Holocaust literature and each evokes in me a different emotional response, but never before has a text exposed me to both an analytical and equally sorrowful account of this dark period in history. Much like the point in time this work is based on, the subject matter is not for the faint of heart. The author does not skirt over any events that took place in Auschwitz including the part played by the Allies and the no ...more
Oct 07, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Stephie Williams
Jun 05, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The premise of the book is that Nazis at all levels, from the soldier to the leaders, years later that they saw nothing wrong with the way they acted at the time and for many even many years later. The book is more than just a history of Auschwitz, arguably the most infamous of all Nazi concentration camps. It sets Auschwitz in the mist of the Nazis attempt to exterminate the Jews. According to the book Auschwitz was not just an extermination camp. Matter of fact this was not its main purpose fr ...more
Jan 27, 2008 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction
I've been interested in the history of the Holocaust ever since I first studied it in eighth grade. This book is a well-researched, extremely thorough account of what happened at Auschwitz, with many personal details from the people who were there.
My first exposure to the horrors of the Holocaust occurred in the early ‘60s. My sixth-grade teacher—a Holocaust survivor—told us stories about her confinement and even showed us her tattoo to support her story. Later, as a freshman in college, I had a professor of German language who had escaped from one of the Nazi concentration camps. She told us about her experience walking across the Alps to freedom. Since then, I have read a number of history books that have added to my mental picture of t ...more
Matthew Barlow
Jan 01, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is probably one of the best books concerning the Holocaust that that I have ever read. Not because it is abound with new information, just the opposite in fact, much of the facts discussed are ones that I have heard before. What truly makes this book remarkable is the overwhelming amount of research that went into it, specifically the gathering of first hand accounts from Nazis and survivors alike. These accounts lend an unmistakable realism to the discussion. The reader is not able to disa ...more
Steph (loves water)
Nov 12, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Everyone
Shelves: ww2-non-fiction, 2015
Oh, man. Everyone needs to read this book.

I learned many things about Auschwitz I didn't know before. Well written, intensely researched, intricately detailed, I learned about concentration camps, work camps, and death camps. I saw how European countries were culpable in the detention and transport of Jews to Auschwitz, and how many (not all) looked on as their neighbors were taken away. I thought perhaps Germans, Poles, Slovaks, Czechs, French, etc., really weren't aware of the mass exterminati
Dec 07, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
After I went to visit the concentration camps ( a sad and educative experience that I would recommend) I wanted to read more about it and how such horrors could happen in the first place. Having this book recommended by the guide, I burrowed it and dug into it.
It is so well documented with interviews from survivors, Polish people that lived near by, Russian prisoners, and even SS members. It provides a glimpse into one of the most hard pages written in blood. The stories of children touched me t
Apr 26, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
In my personal opinion this is one of the best historical documentaries I have ever read. It honestly felt like I was reading a fictional thriller, keeping me gripped to each page wanting to know what will happen next. Although quite gruesome at times it does have moments of happiness like when the author explains many successful escape plans. This particular book was indeed quite slow at the beginning but really picked up pace shortly after.
The book conducted interviews with many prisoners o
Jun 08, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Descriptive, informative and painful all at once. Having studied the Holocaust for the past 16 years, this book provides new and interesting information. The information is astounding. It was fascinating to read from many different perspectives of all those who were involved; victims, perpetrators, and outsiders.

One of the survivors said that Nobody knows themselves. Upon meeting someone who is kind, he wonders how kind they would be in camp. Survival is one hell of a form of betrayal. Unfortuna
Mar 22, 2010 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
What makes this book so powerful is the use of personal interviews and personal stories. Because we are human, a personal storyhas far more resonance than a statstical number.

Rees brings out several not widely kown facts, but he also realies on a variety of eye witness accounts that bring a depth to the history. One hears the story of an adopted child who is taken from her family because her biological grandmother was a gypsy. One learns about what happens in the Channel Islands, and how Jewish
Nov 04, 2012 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: history, on-site
Gruelling of course. A chronological account of the development of Auschwitz with substantial detours into the stories of the communities of Europe that were shipped (and in a few rare cases, not shipped) to the crematoria. This is an efficient and affecting telling though it is opinionated, and has rather too much of the 'imagine how traumatic that would have been' approach.

Anyway after a difficult visit there a few weeks ago (and a poor guide) I found this sorted some residual issues in my mi
Aug 20, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: war
So far it's the best book about concentration, death camps that I've read. The chronology is clear and understandable. Testimonies touching and a good break from just dry historical fact throughout a book.

It mentioned Bełżec death camp on a few pages. I happened to live nearby it. When my parents came to visit me and saw me reading this book, we decided to go to see this place. Small area, incredible place.

It's never easy to visit those places or read about them. But it's important to remember
Feb 02, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: history
Chilling. Even more so because it is meticulously documented and footnoted. That said, Rees spread his net so wide that it bogged down, if not distracted from his central story.

Not a fun read, but a worthwhile read.

We--none of us--should ever forget that "civilized", educated, proud people did this. Intentionally, with malaise and forethought.
Jan 07, 2021 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: historical, cultural
I’ve read piles of books related to the Holocaust and the horrors perpetrated by the Nazis. This book was different in that it presented the history of the worst death camp to ever be conceived. From its initial purpose as a camp for Polish prisoners of war, which in Nazi-speak referred to anyone in Poland when they invaded who did not possess the idealized “Aryan” qualities they extolled, to the final hell it devolved to, Auschwitz passed through stages of lethality according to the random noti ...more
Doreen Petersen
Nov 25, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: wwii
Excellent book about WWII history. Would highly recommend reading it!
Aurélien Thomas
One of the most baffling feature of the Nazi regime was that, despite being a brutal dictatorship obsessed with order, perfection, and discipline, some of the major decisions that came to define it were actually taken in complete chaos, rushed uncertainty, and wild arbitrariness, often under the pressure of outside and unpredictable events. Tragically, Auschwitz, which since then became the symbol of a whole nauseating ideology, didn't escape such rule; like Laurence Rees reminds us here in this ...more
Nick Davies
Jun 15, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2020
Authoritative, well-researched and thought-provoking, here Rees succeeds in using the events at Auschwitz as a key illustration of the evil perpetrated by the Nazis during WWII. From existing documents and photos, as well as via interviews, a balanced and factual book results. With minimum glorifying of violence, setting events in their proper context, I thought this worked very well.

Though a fair amount wasn't new to me from my previous reading, there were many very interesting points made - wh
Richard Burger
I had purchased this book hoping to learn more about daily life in Auschwitz, only to find a far more general, entry-level book on the Holocaust in general that would have been more aptly titled Holocaust 101. I almost felt swindled when I found page after page about the irrelevant rescue of the Jews from Denmark, the role of the Waffen SS and police battalions on the Eastern Front, and a long, detailed description of how the Final Solution was finally brought to Hungary in 1944 - things that ar ...more
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 next »
topics  posts  views  last activity   
Goodreads Librari...: book cover from commercial site 1 9 Jan 01, 2021 02:27PM  

Readers also enjoyed

  • The Holocaust Chronicle
  • Eyewitness Auschwitz: Three Years in the Gas Chambers
  • Schindler's List
  • Anne Frank Remembered: The Story of the Woman Who Helped to Hide the Frank Family
  • The Nazi Doctors: Medical Killing and the Psychology of Genocide
  • The Pianist: The Extraordinary Story of One Man's Survival in Warsaw, 1939–45
  • I Escaped from Auschwitz
  • Children of the Flames: Dr. Josef Mengele and the Untold Story of the Twins of Auschwitz
  • Inside the Gas Chambers: Eight Months in the Sonderkommando of Auschwitz
  • Anne Frank Beyond the Diary: A Photographic Remembrance
  • The Last Seven Months of Anne Frank
  • Anne Frank's Tales from the Secret Annex: A Collection of Her Short Stories, Fables, and Lesser-Known Writings
  • Auschwitz: True Tales from a Grotesque Land
  • Surviving Hitler: A Boy in the Nazi Death Camps
  • The Diary of a Young Girl
  • Sala's Gift: My Mother's Holocaust Story
  • Survivors: True Stories of Children in the Holocaust
  • Children in the Holocaust and World War II: Their Secret Diaries
See similar books…
See top shelves…
In addition to writing, Rees has also produced films about World War II for the BBC.

In New York in January 2009, Laurence was presented with the ‘Lifetime Achievement Award’ by ‘History Makers’, the worldwide congress of History and Current Affairs programme makers

In 2011 he was awarded an Honorary Doctorate (DUniv) by The Open University(UK).

News & Interviews

  Here at Goodreads, we've noticed that a funny thing tends to happen when we start talking about audiobooks: The same few titles get...
56 likes · 14 comments
No trivia or quizzes yet. Add some now »
“there was a greater likelihood that individuals who committed crimes within the Nazi system would take personal responsibility for their actions, than there was that war criminals who served Stalin or Hirohito would take such responsibility.” 1 likes
“Michel and Annette Muller’s mother, snatched from her children at Beaune-la-Rolande, died at Auschwitz. And while it was the Nazis who wished her dead, it was the French who put her in harm’s way.” 1 likes
More quotes…