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Publisher's Summary

The first-hand account of the life, career, and the practices of horror at Auschwitz, written by Auschwitz Kommandant SS Rudolf Hoss as he awaited execution for his crimes. Including his psychological interviews at Nuremberg.

©2016 Stephen R. Pastore (P)2016 Stephen R. Pastore

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  • Tim
  • San Diego, CA
  • 03-16-17

The Banality of Evil…a Memoir

This is a tough book to review. It’s the personal story of the sociopath who ran Auschwitz and was the guy who dreamed up the gas chambers that were used in the annihilation of something over 2 Million people. I’ve read a lot of WWII material and probably more than is healthy around the Holocaust…I’ve even sat through all nine and a half hours of the documentary Shoa which is a mind twisting first person retelling of the holocaust. So I thought I’d heard much of the story of Auschwitz. Apparently not. Bear in mind that this is his story told by him whist waiting to be executed for war crimes. It reveals a great deal of his life story. He was clearly raised a sociopath with no ability to empathize (check out The Sociopath next door on Audible). He recalls how he devised, expanded and ran the death camp which started as a small barracks in the middle of nowhere and became perhaps the greatest stain on the soul of the twentieth century. Against this madness he portrays himself as a mild mannered family man who loved his wife and children and worked to ease the suffering of the prisoners in our care.

Although he oversaw the mass extinction and was present at many of the gassings he claims never to have raised his hand against a prisoner….which means either he is lying or Thomas Keneally (author of Schindler’s Ark) invented the sadistic fornicating monster who was the master of Auschwitz. His self-aggrandizing, self-exculpatory telling has him as the mild mannered would be farmer who was simply “acting under orders” and cared deeply for the wellbeing of his victims. Even through this filter the details of the breathtaking evil he presided over are painfully clear.

If you are a WWII or holocaust completest this is a must read. It’s horrifying but well performed. It’s actually quite compelling in many places. Perhaps the most horrifying aspect is the sheer banality of the entire process. Nobody seemed particularly at odds with the idea that entire groups of humanity should be obliterated and the Teutonic attention to the detail of mass homicide may rob you of sleep. There were five thousand Germans directly involved with the process at Auschwitz...yet nobody knew anything? Hearing him complain about the variable quality of the Zyklon-B they were given which meant that sometimes it took closer to 30 minutes to kill a room full of humans rather than the usual 10-15 minutes is just one hair raising example.

It’s hard to recommend something as disturbing as this book. It’s very good…but very dark. However some of the lessons it teaches about how evil thrives where the good do nothing is one which unfortunately has stood the test of time. So donate to the ACLU, Planned Parenthood and the Red Cross, then hug your children…then read this book.

23 of 28 people found this review helpful

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WOW

The mind- boggling insight into the head of a man who loves his wife and children .... yet send not tens of thousands .... but multiple MILLIONS OF FAMILIES to there death .... and feels justified in doing so is .... IM SHOCKED AND UNSETTLED ! Humans are NOT a civilized species !

13 of 21 people found this review helpful

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Hindsight. Not 20/20

If you are even looking at this title I assume you've had some background reading on ww2 the third Reich and the SS KZ System. The memoirs of Höss are valuable for two primary reasons: 1. he was among the closest to the atrocities of WW2 Germany and provides details and POV that only he can; 2. his account shows the flaws and self deception used to make tidy the horrors of genocide. It's very clear from reading other accounts that Höss wasnt just a victim of circumstance and patriotism. He was a leader and so admits it. He says he never personally abused an inmate and that he never knew of any institutional abuse. While he may not have whipped a prisoner he readily set up firing squads and built Zyklon B gas chambers to kill millions. That said it's hard not to have a modicum of sympathy for this perpetrator if not for the farewell made to his family.

This is a good listen. There are some mispronunciations of German but it's not too jarring.

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What a piece of crap the author was.

Very enciteful. The authors blame is only slightly mitigated by his ending. Gave me a better understanding of the thought process behind the Holocaust.

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Deeply Disturbing, yet instructional tale

If you are squeamish, I would not recommend this book. But for those history buffs and psychology enthusiasts who want to, this book is for you. A deeply disturbing, yet instructional tale, it dives into the mind of the greatest mass murderer in history. Most of the Nazi mass murderers didn't leave writings. But this one did. And it's a fascinating look at how one man rationalized his role in the murder of millions.

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absolutely fascinating to hear from hoess himself.

an excellent read for any world war two student. you will meet hoess' human side and imo he is extremely honest in his accounts of events.

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Ramblings of a delusional sociopath

I wish I had the credit back. The narration was fine, could have done without the creepy music and bells that started, and abruptly cutoff, between chapters.
Hoss had an incredible memory for mundane and intricate details, yet had no emotion, no guilt, no remorse (other than "well, the war's over and we got caught and now I see that the world thinks we were wrong about the extermination camps, and the whole Jewish situation, but I was just following orders). And then he turns around and says he wouldn't mistreat a prisoner and he didn't like the conditions at the camp, but oversaw mass executions and burials and digging up bodies and burning them. But he considered himself a nice guy! I've read much better Holocaust memoirs than this.

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    2 out of 5 stars

Disappointing - rather technical

I was hoping to hear the story of Auschwitz but instead heard a lot of other, non-pertinent information. At times was interesting but, overall, a dud.

0 of 1 people found this review helpful

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Boring

Thought this was going to be completely different I am angry at the way it was portrayed in its blurb this is one thing I hate about audio is being unable to return it

2 of 12 people found this review helpful

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  • Margaret
  • 01-26-17

story of a monster

First of all to be honest I skipped a few chapter when he was telling how other SS officers did not function well and actually hinderhis work and stopped him making things better for his prisoners. I felt sick to hear him sort of praising himself for wanting to make things better for the prisoners. I have read a lot about WW11 and have visited Aushwitz so have seen how 'better' things were. In fact I feel the only time he sounded a bit human were in the letters to his wife and children. The book is interesting partly because you wonder how someone can be a family man and still murder so many.

14 of 17 people found this review helpful

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  • R. Uduwerage-Perera
  • 03-10-17

Simply chilling!

Any additional comments?

Rudolph Hoess was a willing functionary in a system that intended to exterminate an entire ethnic group, but we must never forget that such functionaries require many, many more willing colleagues to complete their despicable task.

The lessons of the Holocaust have not been learnt sadly, so we need to keep revisiting our past so that eventually we learn to cease such barbarism.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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  • Gareth
  • 04-08-17

Interesting viewpoint - weird sound bite

The personal memoirs of Rudolph Hoss the commandment of Auschwitz. Certainly an interesting viewpoint, obviously very one sided.

The narrator performance is great but the strange jingle in between chapters got irksome, especially as it stops abruptly each time

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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  • M
  • 02-25-18

Sad as usual but insightful.

Every read regarding the holocaust is always sad and every book helps to offer more insight and this book captures the events very well.

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  • ian woodard
  • 11-03-17

essential

I have not experienced a more potent historical document.

I am not in the habit of leaving reviews.