We Were In Auschwitz

Janusz Nel, Krystyn Olszewski, And Tadeusz Borowski


"this book is a modest fragment of a story about the life that millions of Europeans lived until not so long ago. Perhaps it doesn't have any great artistic value. But its documentary worth is indisputable, because this book, portraying the pathological changes in the soul of these Europeans, is an eloquent testimony to the face that one of the worst human crimes is that of striking out the fundamental ethical principle that god created man free."-Anatol Girs

1) Authors' purpose

the authors intention for this book is not to entertain, to be articulate, nor is it a fairy tale The author simply wanted to inform the audience about such an event. it is a documentation that they want to be heard and not forgotten, as for forgiveness; that's up to the reader.

2) Concepts/Principles

Groups: the concept that when people are in groups they tend to act different as a whole; feeding off of one another. (psychological)

Value: When an Individual is left in a life or death situation, everything from food to simple entertainment becomes 10x more valuable than before. When their lives are normal, materials are dispensable, when they are in captivity on the brink of death, nothing goes to waste.

Identity: When you strip anything of it's identity, And detach your emotions from it, it then becomes a mere object. This is exactly what the SS did to the Jews which is a big part in how they were capable of mindlessly exterminating hundreds of thousands of Jews.

3) chapter of impact

"This way for the gas, Ladies and Gentlemen"-pg 83

This chapter is about how the SS men would handle the shipments of Jews that came into the camp. Right of the bat, they were treated like cattle, stripped of all of their belongs and identities and filed out based on health and gender. most would be put onto trucks and brought directly to the gas chambers. But the main reason this chapter struck me, is because one of the SS man that was unloading passengers finally came to his senses and saw the horror of his ways. He ended up walking off because he was sick to death of what he has done. He came to this realization when he saw one of the SS shot a baby in the head for no reason to show the other passengers that they meant business.

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4) Book Rating

I gave this book a 3/5 for multiple reason. The first reason being that the content of the book is fairly graphic and doesn't even seem possible at times, so if you are faint of heart then this book isn't for you. The overall message of the book is very enlightening and also gives you a full story of what would otherwise be an undocumented part of history. So it is good to be aware of events such as this, to show that mankind really is only a few steps out of the jungle.

5) Passages

(This book was translated from Polish to English, so the English may look slightly off)

"Oh, we'll manage, is a camp for people, or what?" This passage was from the last chapter when Janusz and the others thought the war was over, so they would be free'd. But then realized they were only being transferred to another camp. But what struck me was the fact that they were not really upset (because their minds are so damaged), they were just hoping for a new change in scenery. They were in a sense desensitized to the labor and punishments.

"Listen Henry, are we good people?" This happened in the chapter where The SS when were unloading passengers to be sorted, cleaned of all material wealth and shipped off to either the camp or the gas. The SS man asked his friend Henry if they were good people, because he had started to see the errors in his ways. Henry felt they were doing right, but the SS man (unknown) started to get violently ill and left the scene saying "I don't want any part in this anymore." So this gave me a sense of hope, showing that people, no matter how bad the situation, can see the errors in their ways, and change for the better.


This book hits majorly on the topic of "human ethics" or...the lack of. for example, the SS men carrying out genocide, but not once is the reason for such actions every stated clearly...which means there is no justification for such acts. The only reason I can think of is because a man who gained a lot of momentum (Hitler) feed people his idea of an ideal world, that being Aryans (blonde hair, blues eyes). Anyone who didn't fit this set criteria were brought to this camp to be exterminated. so is genocide ethical? Janusz made a good point basically stating that maybe it isn't genocide that is the problem, it is the reason for it and how it is executed that causes it to be immoral and wrong on so many levels.
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