War in the shadow of Auschwitz : memoirs of a Polish resistance fighter and survivor of the death camps /
John Wiernicki.
Syracuse, N.Y. : Syracuse University Press, 2001.
xv, 273 p. : ill.
0815607229 (alk. paper)
More Details
Syracuse, N.Y. : Syracuse University Press, 2001.
0815607229 (alk. paper)
catalogue key
Includes bibliographical references and index.
A Look Inside
About the Author
Author Affiliation
John Wiernicki fought with Polish partisans against German aggressors. He was arrested by the Gestapo and imprisoned in the German concentration camp Auschwitz-Birkenau. After a daring escape, he joined the Allied Forces in Italy and after the war returned to civilian life. He eventually married, emigrated to the United States, raised two sons, and became a successful architect. In 1995, he was decorated by Lech Walesa, the president of Poland, for his military services during the war
This item was nominated for the following awards:
National Jewish Book Awards, USA, 2002 : Nominated
Full Text Reviews
Appeared in Publishers Weekly on 2001-12-10:
In this simple but harrowing memoir, Wiernicki recounts his involvement with the Polish underground and his subsequent imprisonment in Nazi labor and death camps. What emerges is a raw expose of the evil perpetrated against millions, the "deliberate, cold, premeditated murder of innocent people." Wiernicki's young, privileged existence fundamentally changes in the summer of 1939, when the Germans invade Poland. Within 28 days, the German forces wreak havoc on the entire nation, but they focus on burning synagogues and splintering families within Jewish communities. A proud Pole, Wiernicki joins the Polish resistance movement an impassioned but fragmented and necessarily secretive group as a freedom fighter. After being captured and tortured by the Gestapo, Wiernicki, a gentile, meets a fate similar to that of the millions of Jews whose extermination he soon witnesses. Wiernicki captures the brutality of the SS men as well as the total dehumanization of the inmates the reason they are unable to wield any resistance within the camps. Particularly startling are Wiernicki's accounts of the guards' sadistic behavior; that other authors have told these tales before does not lessen their power. Frightened prisoners are forced to sing at the whim of an SS man on penalty of death; women are humiliated and abused. Ruthless beatings and brutal kickings are the norm, Wiernicki writes, even during routine work. That the author is a gentile survivor makes his testimony especially significant at a time when Holocaust denial is defended by some as academic freedom. 17 photos. (Jan.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved
This item was reviewed in:
Booklist, December 2001
Publishers Weekly, December 2001
Reference & Research Book News, February 2002
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Publisher Fact Sheet
A Polish partisan & political prisoner & non-Jew, the author recalls wartime & the horrors of Auschwitz.
Unpaid Annotation
1943: Polish underground fighter John Wiernicki is captured and beaten by the Gestapo, then shipped to Auschwitz. In this chilling memoir, Wiernicki, a Gentile, details "life" in the infamous death camp, and his battle to survive, physically and morally, in the face of utter evil.The author begins by remembering his aristocratic youth, an idyllic time shattered by German invasion. The ensuing dark days of occupation would fire the adolescent Wiernicki with a burning desire to serve Poland, a cause that led him to valiant action and eventual arrest.As a young non-Jew, Wiernicki was acutely sensitive to the depravity and injustice that engulfed him at Auschwitz. He bears witness to the harrowing selection and extermination of Jews doomed by birth to the gas chambers, to savage camp policies, brutal SS doctors, and rampant corruption with the system. He notes the difference in treatment between Jews and non-Jews. And he relives fearful unexpected encounters with two notorious "Angels of Death": Josef Mengele and Heinz Thilo.War in the Shadow of Auschwitz is an important historical and personal document. Its vivid portrait of prewar and wartime Poland, and of German concentration camps, provides a significant addition to the growing body of testimony by gentile survivors and a heartfelt contribution to fostering comprehension and understanding.
Table of Contents
Illustrationsp. ix
Acknowledgmentsp. xi
Introductionp. xiii
Dry Septemberp. 3
Uneven Strugglep. 18
Freedom Fightersp. 47
Devil's Empirep. 77
Auschwitz-Birkenaup. 88
Men's Camp BIIdp. 114
Dr. Thilo's Hospitalp. 141
Desinfektionskommandop. 162
Buchenwald-Ohrdrufp. 209
Death Marchp. 236
White Starsp. 246
Epiloguep. 252
Table of Military Ranksp. 261
Glossary of Camp Termsp. 263
Bibliographyp. 267
Indexp. 269
Table of Contents provided by Syndetics. All Rights Reserved.

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