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The Liberators: America's Witnesses to the Holocaust

4.17  ·  Rating details ·  285 Ratings  ·  35 Reviews
At last, the everyday fighting men who were the first Americans to know the full and horrifying truth about the Holocaust share their astonishing stories. Rich with powerful never-before-published details from the author’s interviews with more than 150 U.S. soldiers who liberated the Nazi death camps, The Liberators is an essential addition to the literature of World War I ...more
Hardcover, 384 pages
Published March 16th 2010 by Bantam (first published 2010)
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Ron
Dec 31, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Recommended to Ron by: Forrest Robinson
Shelves: history, maps, non-fiction
A startling, sobering book. Shocking that it happened seventy years ago; shocking that so many--American as well as German, Arab and Iranian--now deny it happened. George Santayana's famous dictum comes to mind: "Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it."

It can happen again as it has happened repeatedly throughout history. As our knowledge and technology grows, so our ability to exercise inhumanity on our fellow man grows. And no one is safe from it. I recently read a devoti
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Mikey B.
Dec 30, 2012 rated it it was amazing
This is an important book – it records the experiences of the World War II veterans who took part in the liberation of the concentration camps. The veterans are now obviously a dwindling resource and it’s very worthy of the author to get their testimonies into print. Often many of them only spent a few fours at the camps; but these few hours were forever etched unto their memories.

Interestingly some never spoke of their experiences until meeting with the author, Michael Hirsh. My father was a PO
...more
Losososdiane
Dec 01, 2010 rated it really liked it
I try to read a book about World War II every few years simply to remind myself of what humans can do to each other and how we must put forth a great effort to keep things like the Holocaust from occurring again and again.

I remember playing with the military uniforms, deactivated rifles and disarmed grenades that belonged to the neighborhood fathers back in the 1950s. We played war in emulation of the stories we overheard being told by these fathers. We also had access to small, black-and-white
...more
Jennifer
Jan 22, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Michael Hirsh spoke with over 150 Americans who were among the first to encounter Nazi concentration camps, sometimes mere hours after German troops had deserted them. They shared with him not only their experiences as young men and women witnessing hitherto unimaginable cruelty, but how those sights - and smells - affected them throughout their lives.

Many, but not all, of them did not speak about their experiences for decades after the war. Some just wanted to put it in the past. Others found t
...more
Tim
Mar 20, 2011 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
While it is interesting to hear about the liberation of Holocaust survivors from the point-of-view of American soldiers, the stories, being limited in scope, wind up being fairly repetitive.
Jeremy
Mar 30, 2010 rated it it was amazing
Very powerful. I'm convinced that one should read a book about the Holocaust every few years. Especially now that the original witnesses are passing away. "Lest we forget, lest we forget."
Andy
May 05, 2011 rated it really liked it
Well, i guess as far as WW2 books I've read go, this might be considered one of the happier ones. Maybe, kinda. It's all interviews with soldiers who were at the liberation (or soon after) of the concentration camps. To put it simply i think it's what you'd expect. Lately I've been looking for some stuff on the "payback" from the prisoners to the guards and got a few good stories on that subject. Also after reading book after book about how little support a lot of the prisoners got even after li ...more
David
Oct 05, 2010 rated it liked it
I've been doing a lot of "light" reading of late, and this work is certainly the antithesis of light. Mr. Hirsh has interviewed hundreds of American GIs and nurses who happened to be among the units who discovered the Nazi concentration camps throughout Eastern Europe.

These first-hand accounts are graphic and chilling. "Liberators" is a misnomer, according to these aging veterans (most of whom are uncomfortable with that appelation), since the German soldiers had fled by the time the Yanks arriv
...more
Jody
Jan 03, 2011 rated it really liked it
Shelves: history
I have read a lot of Holocaust books and while this one wasn't my favorite it gave me a new perspective. I have always focused on those who were imprisoned in those awful places but the Liberators allowed to me view the death camps through the eyes of the men and women who were at ground zero helping those prisoners to survive their liberation. I never thought of the shock it was to the liberating armies to learn and see the result of so much hatred being allowed to run free. I highly recommend ...more
Doug
Aug 22, 2010 rated it it was amazing
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Karolinde (Kari)
Jul 19, 2010 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: holocaust-lit, ww-ii
This book is a must read for everyone. Michael Hirsh has interviewed survivors and pored over countless documents in order to tell the story of the men who freed the camps, and in some cases, where prisoners there themselves. Hirsh's warning to not let their language and descriptions become jaded or simplistic but to try and imagine what they meant to the soldiers who were there is a warning that we should all heed.

A book I plan to buy and reread.
AnnaMarie
Sep 17, 2010 rated it really liked it
This was a good read. Easy enough to not have to struggle through it (though my progress slowed as the accounts were similar), and REAL. It makes me want to find a WWII vet and talk to him or her. It also makes me think about what's going on in our world today that we might look back in shock that we let it go on. I'd recommend this book especially if you have never read anything like it.
Barbara Marincel
May 15, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Now I know why my dad couldn't talk about the camp his outfit liberated, why he couldn't remember the name of the camp. And why he hid the few snapshots he took that I found after his death. He was just a farm kid from Minnesota, who faced more evil than most of us can even begin to comprehend. Just kids like him, most of them, the liberators.
Rae
Nov 07, 2010 rated it really liked it
Shelves: history-ww2
A most sobering (if not particularly well-written) collection of liberation stories from the American soldiers who were there to free the concentration camp victims. I was especially moved by the chapter on how these men dealt with the experience and their memories after they came back to the States. Truly, they were a great generation.
Janeth
Feb 07, 2011 rated it it was amazing
I've waiting to read this even before it was ever written. Meaning that i always wondered what all the liberators felt when they came upon the concentration camps. I was immensely happy to see that my wishes had finally become a reality and in no better way. This book is extremely insightfull
Sarah K
Jan 06, 2012 rated it really liked it
Shelves: wwii, nonfiction
a book that must be read, so the holocaust is not forgotten. a haunting book, but full of hope for the future. a new angle to the holocaust: that of the soldiers who were there when the camps were shut down.
Joan
Aug 22, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: history
Such a terrible time in history but if you enjoy books about The Holocaust I recommend this highly.
DeliaC
Apr 22, 2011 rated it really liked it
Really illuminating. The focus on the last few days of the war and the Nazi obsession with exterminating the Jews and their other prisoners made these men's stories powerful.
Michelle Joy
Apr 05, 2010 marked it as to-read
I need to read this book still, but am looking forward to it due to my job being the transcribing of the interviews used to write this book.
Jeanne
Sep 20, 2010 rated it liked it
Not an easy read, but informative. Makes PTSD very real.
Cynthia
Sep 10, 2010 rated it liked it
Shelves: 2010
AUSTRIA
Rich Brown
Oct 15, 2011 rated it really liked it
My first Kindle-based library checkout. Very interesting to see other readers' highlights in a book like this... you wouldn't do that with a paper copy.
Suzanne (suz&mark)
Mar 26, 2010 rated it liked it
Though I am very interested in this topic, unfortunately the recollections started to get a bit repetitive.
Sylvia McIvers
I highly recommend reading this book in sunlight. Not before bedtime.

It opens with American POW as slave-labor in a mining shaft, some die, but bodies have to be recorded properly so they get stacked up (right near the POW eating room) until the recording clerk comes around once a week.

This sets the tone for the book. Many personal memories of American soldiers, chaplains, nurses. There is a lot of horror at what they see, a lot of 'why didn't high command warn us that things would be this bad'.
...more
Doug Phillips
Apr 27, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: world-war-ii
This important book is not for everyone. My wife, for instance, would be too emotionally upset by the harsh reality of the reported "final solution" details. After reading the accounts presented to the author through interviews of our hero WWII fighting men and nurses, I found myself becoming somewhat numb to the graphic descriptions. I suppose, in a way, that is the scariest part of this very subject. Could this be what led the German citizens to claim ignorance of the atrocities happening righ ...more
Peg
Feb 12, 2017 rated it really liked it
So many were young men and they saw the horrors of the camps. They liberated the walking dead. They gave them food, not realizing they were harming and sometimes killing them because their digestive system couldnt handle that much food right away. These young servicemen saw sights that they could never forget. They were faced with why they were fighting. God bless the liberators and those that were liberated. Never again!
Ryan
Oct 21, 2013 rated it liked it
Got repetitive at times...each camp provided the same horrors to those witnessing it as other camps, so sometimes the story could drag on with nothing really new happening, just a different setting. It was still interesting to see how unaware our GIs were before reaching these camps and their emotions when they see what they find there. Also interesting to see how the local townspeople react & respond as if they had no clue that anything was amiss.

I also liked the last bit of the book where
...more
Christie
May 20, 2016 rated it it was amazing
I have read many books on the Holocaust from the point of view of the survivors. What I liked about this book is that it gives the point of view of American soldiers who liberated the concentration camps. It gives an insight of what they knew before they left America to Europe and what they found when they got there.
Sheila
Aug 30, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: nonfiction, war
Powerful, sobering, and difficult, this book relates the eyewitness accounts of Holocaust survivors and liberators which all people of any nationality should read so that we never forget the atrocity of WWII and to remember those who not only braved the war as soldiers or survived the concentration camps, but also to honor and remember all who lost their lives.
Edward Sullivan
Aug 06, 2012 rated it really liked it
The Holocaust as seen through the eyes of GIs who took part in liberating concentration camps all over Europe. I was disappointed none of the veterans interviewed were from African-American units which did take part in some of these liberations. Terrible and powerful.
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Michael Hirsh is the author of numerous books. During a 40-year career in broadcasting, he produced documentaries and specials for PBS, CBS, ABC and HBO, receiving multiple awards, including the Peabody.

He lives and writes in Punta Gorda, Florida
More about Michael Hirsh...