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Auschwitz: True Tales From a Grotesque Land

4.17  ·  Rating details ·  2,147 ratings  ·  49 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 by The University of North Carolina Press (first published 1985)
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Average rating 4.17  · 
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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
Michelle Luksh
Mar 21, 2014 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
Edwina Callan
Feb 13, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2018, library-book
A detailed account of the hell on earth known as Auschwitz, as told by a Holocaust survivor.
Brutal and heartbreaking.
Sep 01, 2012 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
Jan 21, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Yes, I read yet another book on Auschwitz! This time it was Auschwitz: True Tales From a Grotesque Land by Sara Nomberg-Przytyk. It was written twenty years after the liberation of the camps in which the author describes her personal experiences and memories of the two years she spent incarcerated there. While the unimaginable atrocities were happening all around her she also observed cases where human compassion survived. She also had worked as an attendant in the camp hospital where she observ ...more
Jun 24, 2011 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
Dec 15, 2013 rated it it was amazing
✮ Read this review and more like it on The Last Page

“We all crouched in our bunks, frightened, helpless in the face of the mass murder that was to take place before our very eyes. No one cried out, nobody wept.”

Auschwitz: True Tales from a Grotesque Land is a powerful collection of vignettes that detail the horrible conditions of concentration camps during the Holocaust. Nomberg-Przytyk recounts her days working as a clerk in the Auschwitz hospital under the command of the infamous Josef Menge
Apr 07, 2011 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
Jan 28, 2012 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
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
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 10, 2012 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.
Avi B
This was a very powerful book which will stay with me for a long time.
Kylene Jones
Sep 29, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: own
Wow, This was not an easy book to read but are any holocaust books? I think this one was even more so. These are memories from a survivor of Auschwitz. She shares details of individuals that are with her there from guards to other prisoners, There are stories about how people did awful things to save themselves and others of people that sacrificed themselves or put themselves at risk to help other prisoners. She goes through the hierarchy in the prison. Some people were able to go up in status f ...more
Feb 29, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This book was a TRIP! Although what Holocaust book isn't?

Sara's story is one to remember. Every chapter brought new insight into the world and experience of the Holocaust. As a student of the Holocaust, I can confidently say Sara has taught me so much about the Holocaust through her experiences. Reading her story has brought me to moments where I questioned my own definition of love and selflessness. I questioned the strength of the human existence and was regularly shocked by her experience. B
It's not easy to review books that are non-fiction. That difficulty increases greatly when we are speaking of books dealing with the holocaust. Fact or fiction alike, they are filled with instances that bring to mind the most horrific images and thoughts. The worst of humanity is repeated within the pages and though we do see the best in some accounts whether it's a single act of grace or the most heroic actions in which so many lifes are saved, the darker memories are more frequently shared. Ho ...more
Nov 10, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Sara tells her story in a way that humanizes once again these people in a place where almost all humanity was lost. Yes complete historical accuracy falls to the side at times, but honestly if you asked me what I did yesterday I’d probably miss-remember some of it. This woman lived through hell and wrote about it far later. If some bits are fuzzy around the edges and stories are changed or combined to get a point across in her storytelling I am not going to fault her.

The stories of the young ch
Dec 16, 2017 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Filled with detailed descriptions of the author in the camps and her experiences. The writing was a bit difficult for me to follow but that could be due to the fact that this book has been translated.
Whitney Archer
Jul 27, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2019
This blew me away. One of the best books I’ve read about the holocaust.
Kristy Christensen
This was one of those books I could not put down. another eye - witness account of Hell.
Jun 26, 2010 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 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
Jul 03, 2013 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
Feb 20, 2008 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
Dec 08, 2008 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+!
May 24, 2011 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 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.
Oct 03, 2012 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
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.
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Born in Lublin, Poland, on 10 September 1915, Sara Nomberg grew up in a Hasidic family. Her grandfather was renowned throughout Poland as a Talmudist and for several years was the headmaster of a yeshiva in Warsaw. He later moved to a small town near Lublin, where he served as the rabbi for the community. Many of her other relatives were also rabbis. Living in the Jewish area of Lublin, she came t ...more

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