E-Book Review: A Small Town Near Auschwitz, Ordinary Nazi's and the Holocaust by Mary Fulbrook
A Small Town Near Auschwitz is the town and county of Bedzin, Poland. Bedzin is located in southern Poland, or Upper Silesia province. This area had once been a German province. When Nazi Germany invaded Poland September 1, 1939 they wanted to regain what they'd lost after World War I. From the south and the west they marched into Poland, and on immediate arrival began their murderous rampage against the Jews. While Germany invaded from the south and west. The Soviet troops moved into Poland from the east. At the time of the invasion the town of Bedzin's Jewish population was more than half of the total population. It was a town with a new rail station, new schools, and new factories. Antisemitism had always been there, but the people lived and worked together despite prejudice. Bedzin's Jewish population was from the wealthy to the poor. After Nazi Germany invaded they began a program of resettling the Jew's into a Ghetto in order to keep them contained in one area. They placed a person in charge of carrying out their orders, his title was Landrat. The Landrat of Bedzin was Udo Klausa. Udo and his wife Alexandra were close friends of the author Mary Fulbrook's family. For Fulbrook, the writing of this book was prickly, it was difficult to not become emotional and make judgments. Yet, the author wanted to write an honest book detailing her research of what happened in Bedzin, specifically to the Jews during the Nazi German occupation. The first actions of the Nazi's was in rounding up those Jew's who were wealthy. Eight days after the invasion the synagogue and streets around it were burned by incinerated bombs. Many vicious public acts were carried out in the streets: cutting Jewish mens beards, beatings, shootings, hangings, burning of buildings and houses, restrictions on where a Jew could go. The first large transport of Jew's to Auschwitz was in the spring of 1942.
The author wanted to understand how Udo Klausa, his wife, and even the Polish people could take part in this annihilation of humans. She found in her research they believed that because they did not themselves touch another Jew by wounding them or causing harm, they were innocent.
"Yet, the Holocaust was possible only because so many people acted in ways that, over a longer period of time, created the preconditions for the ultimate acts of violence."
I have deep respect for the author in tackling a book where she knew the perpetrator Landrat Udo Klausa.
Throughout the book she expressed trying to keep her feelings in check.
She contemplated and studied Klausa's words and actions, looking for a point where he might have become uncomfortable in his involvement.
Mary Fulbrook is a scholar on the history of Germany. Her study and research of the subject is apparent in this book.
This book should be considered an academic study. I also consider it to be a psychoanalysis of Udo Klausa and all those that were involved in the Nazi campaign of eliminating the Jew's.
I've read a lengthy list of books on the Holocaust (see the left side bar of my blog.)
In what way did this book compare to other books on this subject?
1. The author is not Jewish.
2. The author is not a survivor of the Holocaust.
3. The author knew personally the Landrat of Belzin as well as his wife and children.
4. The author was privileged to read his journal, and also letters that were written to her mother during the war.
5. The book is a study of a people group who were civilians; but were swept up in the furor and political aspiration of the Nazi program.
6. The focus is on the town and county of Belzin, Poland. The magnifying glass (so to speak) rests over this geographical area.
I would give this book 5 stars for excellent.
This is the first book for me to review through Net Galley. I feel it is a reliable source for reviewers.
Mary Fulbrook is a professor of German history at University College London. She is a leading authority on modern German history.
Thank you to Oxford University Press and Net Galley for my free E-Book in exchange for an honest review.
Published by Oxford University Press October/November 2012
Hard back has 464 pages
World War II, Holocaust, Auschwitz,
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