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July 8, 2015

Oh Goody! A new 865 page book about the Holocaust

Filed under: Buchenwald, Germany, Holocaust — Tags: , , , — furtherglory @ 8:34 am

The latest Holocaust book is entitled A History of the Nazi Concentration Camps

Written by Nikolaus Wachsmann

Illustrated. 865 pp. Farrar, Straus & Giroux. $40.

The New York Times article about the new book, which you can read in full here, begins and ends with Buchenwald.

A photo of Ilse Koch, “the bitch of Buchenwald,” is shown at the top of the New York Times article about the book.

Ilse Koch and her husband Karl Otto Koch

Ilse Koch and her husband Karl Otto Koch

Take a look at the photo of Ilse Koch and her husband, shown above. Note the flirtatious look and the way that Ilse pulls back her coat to show off her figure. You know she’s trouble with a capital T. You just know that she had human skin lamp shades made to decorate her home. I am sure that this will be explained in great detail in the new book.

The Buchenwald concentration camp was located near the German city of Weimar where Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, Germany’s most famous writer, had lived from 1775 until his death in 1832. The area where the Buchenwald Memorial Site now stands was Goethe’s favorite forest retreat, where he had sat under his favorite oak tree.

The Buchenwald camp was built in the spot where Goethe used to sit under this oak tree

The Buchenwald camp was built in the spot where Goethe used to sit under this oak tree

When a spot in the forest on the Ettersberg was cleared for the Buchenwald camp, Goethe’s oak was left standing, and when the tree was killed in an Allied bombing raid on the camp on August 24, 1944, the Nazis cut it down but carefully preserved the stump, which is shown in my photo below.

The stump of Goethe's oak tree is located on the grounds of the former Buchenwald camp

My photo of the stump of Goethe’s oak tree on the grounds of the former Buchenwald concentration camp

The article about the new book begins and ends with Buchenwald. The photo of Ilse Koch is at the top of the article and the article ends with the story of how the Nazis saved Goethe’s oak.

In the following paragraphs, I am quoting from the New York Times article:

This explanation is given: Wachsmann focuses on one [prisoner]. His name is Moritz Choinowski, a Polish-born Jew detained by the Gestao in 1939 in the German town of Magdeburg. By the time of his liberation on April 29, 1945, Choinowski has survived Buchenwald, Auschwitz, a slowly growing German camp called Gross-Rosen and finally Dachau as well as the nightmarish forms of transportation between them. Is this possible? he sobs in the Dachau infirmary. It was, just.

Wachsmann, a history professor at London University’s Birkbeck College, has written a work of prodigious scholarship. At 865 pages, it is, in every sense, no light read. In fact it is claustrophobic in its evocation of the depths to which people can succumb. Readers may find themselves wanting out, but there is always worse to come. The book does not upend our understanding of the camp system, whose core elements are well known by now. But it imbues them with agonizing human texture and extraordinary detail. This is as relentless a chronicle of the collapse of an entire society and civilization — from its doctors drawn to every inhuman experiment to its foot soldiers looting the dead — as may be imagined.

Were the SS camps “typically German,” as some prisoners believed? Wachsmann answers that this “seems doubtful” in that “the men behind the KL system were far more invested in radical Nazi ideology than most ordinary Germans, who felt more ambivalent about the camps.”


One Olga Lengyel arrives in Auschwitz determined to protect her son from hard labor. She is asked by an SS physician (strange oxymoron), Dr. Fritz Klein, how old her son is. She says he is under 13, although he looks older. The boy is promptly sent to the gas. As Wachsmann writes, “Those under the age of 14 were almost all gassed on arrival.” After the war, Lengyel writes in despair, “How should I have known?” How indeed could anyone, so far had the Nazis gone in the application of the unthinkable.


The mystery remains. The Holocaust can never quite be digested, even when it is dissected into such minute detail. Buchenwald stood near Goethe’s hometown, Weimar. As Wachsmann writes, the connection with Goethe could not be severed: “A large oak tree, under which he had supposedly met with his muse, stood right on the new camp grounds; because it was protected, the SS had to build around it.”

They did and, step by step, Höss and his ilk found a way to usher Germany from the inspiration of its greatest writer to the inferno of mass murder.

End of quote from the New York Times.

I visited the Buchenwald Memorial Site several years ago, and wrote about it on my website at

The Buchenwald gate house with the clock stopped at 3:15 p.m.

The Buchenwald gate house with the clock stopped at 3:15 p.m., the exact time that the prisoners liberated themselves, before the Americans arrived


  1. 865 pages ? That sounds almost like Melville’s Moby Dick. It was good book,but boring. Even though Koch is striking her best,”look at me! I’m the Chippie from hell”pose,she’s still a long way off from someone I’d ogle. When are we gonna start writing about other killers? Stalin,Cortez,Tojo. Hell,even us for that matter. I was watching something about the night and day bombing of Germany. The person narrating the show quoted some high ranking military big wig. The big wig made the comment about our bombing of civilians. He was basically like,whatever it takes to get Germany to surrender. As humans,we’ve all got a f**ked up concept of right and wrong. I sure as hell never thought highly of the North Vietnamese,but I sure as hell wouldn’t advocate the bombing of civilian targets just to get them to surrender. There ain’t a single group of people on this planet that are better than the next. I say it’s time for God to wipe the planet clean and try again.

    Comment by Tim — July 11, 2015 @ 9:04 am

    • Check out Timothy Snyder’s Bloodlands: Europe between Stalin and Hitler. It discusses Stalin’s involvement in the Holdomor, The Great Purge, etc.

      Comment by P. O. Truth — July 13, 2015 @ 6:48 pm

  2. Furthermore I wonder whether this autor mentioned that the model for the NazI Concentration Camps system had been the Soviet GULAG System – Politcal opponents sent for profit to forced labor – which German officier present in URSS for testing new weapons could watch. Indeed Kogon shows how the SS took profit – basic renvenue for having the BLACK CORP – from hiring the forced labor of prisioniers to industries.

    Comment by Wolf Murmelstein — July 8, 2015 @ 11:08 pm

    • The author does mention the Gulag system, which the Nazis were aware of. There were several comparisons made between them. For example, both governments used them for political prisoners expanded them to include habitual criminals, the “work shy,” etc.

      Comment by P. O. Truth — July 22, 2015 @ 7:44 am

  3. Here reading these comments You see the need for clear action to prevent that the great tragedies of the twentieth century occure again. Many leftwing intellectuals, and others, say the Jews should stay in their own country while they are helping the enemies of Israel who want its destruction. And when PM Netanyahu calls for Jews to settle in Israel he earns high critics. It is up to the Gernan Government to decide whether to support Jewish comunities establishing in German cities; certainly not to cotributors of this site. By the way: the relationship between Germany and Israel are the best, A journalist tested that in Berlin You can walk wearing the kippah while in Paris this bears risks.

    Comment by Wolf Murmelstein — July 8, 2015 @ 10:45 am

  4. Wachsmann thrusts his snout forcefully into the trough. I hope he chokes on the slop. And the other pigs with him.

    Comment by Jett Rucker — July 8, 2015 @ 10:21 am

    • Please express Your statement in plain English without using slangs.

      Comment by Wolf Murmelstein — July 8, 2015 @ 11:00 pm

  5. The real question – which this book, like others, does not anwer is: What to do to avoid such event to occure again? Certain figure celebrate and celebrate the Holocaust but avoid any action to prevent that it could again.

    Comment by Wolf Murmelstein — July 8, 2015 @ 9:06 am

    • To prevent another Holocaust, the Jews should stay in their own country: Israel.

      Instead, the Jews are returning to Germany. Let the German people have their own country. Tear down all those monuments to the Jews in Germany. I wrote about the Jews returning to Germany in this blog post:

      If the Jews want a 5-acre monument, let them build it in Israel, instead of building it in Berlin. Eventually, the German people will get fed up with the Jews again, and there will be another Holocaust.

      I also wrote about how the Germans wanted the Jews out of Germany in this blog post:

      Comment by furtherglory — July 8, 2015 @ 9:34 am

      • If David “Spengler” Goldman is representative of Jewish thinking, Jews are probably looking forward to ruling the roost in a new “Germany” depopulated of Germans.

        Comment by fnn — July 8, 2015 @ 9:58 am

        • He once said, “In 100 years German will only be spoken in Hell.”

          Comment by fnn — July 8, 2015 @ 10:00 am

    • Hey TF, the only question needing answered is what were the contracted jews up to with their Nazi pals in the R&D labs in the SS complexes? FM! The “to avoid such event to occure again” is as usual with the collection of TFs you so magnificently emulate, another false activity and waste of time in the fiction.

      Comment by thestoker — July 10, 2015 @ 12:26 am

      • I’m reading this now, I borrowed the e-book from my library. It makes interesting reading.

        Comment by P. O. Truth — July 21, 2015 @ 1:43 pm

        • I’m not trying to butt in,but libraries have ebooks? I live outside houston,so big as our library is there ,I figure they might have something like that.

          Comment by Tim — July 21, 2015 @ 1:54 pm

          • Our library has an app, you can borrow e-books on it (if they have it available in that format). Same deal, you can borrow for 14 days.

            Comment by P. O. Truth — July 22, 2015 @ 5:51 am

            • I used to live in Spring, Texas.

              Comment by P. O. Truth — July 22, 2015 @ 5:52 am

              • I don’t know how long it’s been since you’ve lived here,but you wouldn’t recognize anything. Out around Katy they’re doing work on I-10. It gonna be done on 2016. When it’s finished its gonna be like 24 lanes all together. I lived in Tomball 20 some odd years back when I was doing offshore exploration work. Then I bought my property out here in La Grange and I don’t go to Houston unless I have to. The attorney for my ranch is in Houston and I go to the livestock show and rodeo if there’s any stock that interest me. I went by the holocsust museum about a month ago. I don’t ever wanna hear again how they don’t have money and need donations. That building was not cheap to put up. It’s In an area (Herman park/hospital district) where real estate ain’t cheap. Like I said,i don’t wanna hear from them that they ain’t got money and need donations. I pretty much try to stay away from Houston

                Comment by Tim — July 22, 2015 @ 6:48 am

              • I lived in Houston for 12 years, 6 years on the South side and then 6 in Spring.

                Comment by P. O. Truth — July 22, 2015 @ 7:41 am

            • Who is your library? We have a good size library here in La Grange,but they don’t have the resources to be able to support a program like an “internet library”

              Comment by Tim — July 22, 2015 @ 7:12 am

              • It’s the Oklahoma City library system. Contact Houston Metropolitan library, I bet they do this.
                My parents moved back to Houston in the mid-90’s. I went to visit them and you’re right, I didn’t recognize it.

                Comment by P. O. Truth — July 22, 2015 @ 7:48 am

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