The book entitled The 186 Steps, written by Christian Bernadac begins with a description of the Stairs of Death at the former Mauthausen concentration camp which is now a Memorial Site, visited mostly by teen-aged students.
July 16, 2011
July 13, 2011
Thanks to a French-speaking e-mail correspondent, who wishes to remain anonymous, I have learned that French author Christian Bernadac “was able to reconstruct the life of an inmate, that he is a famous journalist investigator, on various subjects and wars…” This description of Bernadac’s book “The 186 Steps” comes from a web site that is written in French. I bought Bernadac’s book from an online used book seller in 2003. I don’t read French so it was not possible for me to read an online description of Bernadac’s book before I purchased it. I assumed that Bernadac’s book was the true story of his time in the Mauthausen concentration camp.
In my defense, I would like to point out that nowhere in Bernadac’s book does it state that the book is a reconstruction of the life of an inmate. The entire book is written in the first person. Chapter One is entitled “The Scene is Set.” The Scene in the title refers to the author’s detailed description of how the prisoners were forced to carry heavy granite boulders up the 186 steps from the Mauthausen quarry.
This quote is from the second page in the first chapter of “The 186 Steps”:
For two months and six days I performed the acrobatics required to keep from plunging into either of these pitfalls. I was lucky to be young.
How was I supposed to know that this first person account of the life of a Mauthausen prisoner was a “reconstruction of the life of an inmate”? How was I supposed to know that he was only 7 years old when Mauthausen was liberated in May 1945? In his book, Bernadac wrote that he was 30 years old when he was sent to Mauthausen after he was captured as a French Resistance fighter. (more…)
July 7, 2011
Christian Bernadac is the author of “The 186 Steps,” a book about the Mauthausen concentration camp, which was published in 1974. According to a French Wikipedia page about Bernadac, he was born in August 1937 and died in 2003. He was only 7 years old in the last year that Mauthausen was open, which means that he was probably not a prisoner at Mauthausen, which was mainly a camp for adult men. So how did he gain first-hand knowledge about the camp? Is this book a fake, like so many other books about the Holocaust?
Before I visited the Mauthausen memorial site several years ago, I bought Bernadac’s book “The 186 Steps” and read it very thoroughly. I had to buy a used copy through Amazon.com and pay a high price for it because the book was no longer in print at that time. Based on what I read in his book, and my personal observations at the memorial site, I did a section on my web site about Mauthausen, which you can read here. I mentioned several times that Bernadac had been a prisoner at Mauthausen.