Home / Books / Book Reviews / Book Review: Auschwitz: A Doctor’s Eye­wit­ness Account by Dr. Miklós Nyiszli

Book Review: Auschwitz: A Doctor’s Eye­wit­ness Account by Dr. Miklós Nyiszli

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Auschwitz: A Doctor’s Eye­wit­ness Account by Dr. Mik­lós Nyis­zli is a non-fiction mem­oir of a Jew­ish Hun­gar­ian med­ical doc­tor who per­formed “research” on other Jews with the evil Dr. Josef Men­gele aka “Angel of Death.” This is not an easy book to read, but an impor­tant one.

Dr. Mik­lós Nyis­zli, a Jew as well as a med­ical doc­tor, was sent to Auschwitz when the Nazis invaded Hun­gary in 1944. Dr. Nyis­zli — No. A8450– was picked by the mon­ster him­self, Dr. Josef Men­gele, to per­form “sci­en­tific research” on the inmates and even­tu­ally became Mengele’s per­sonal research pathologist.

Auschwitz: A Doctor’s Eye­wit­ness Account by Dr. Mik­lós Nyis­zli tells the sober first hand account of a doc­tor who was selected by Dr. Men­gele, evil incar­nate, to help him per­form med­ical exper­i­ments in Auschwitz. Whether it was a bless­ing to sur­vive the war or the live with the knowl­edge that you unwit­tingly helped the biggest crim­i­nals the world has ever seen com­mit geno­cide is some­thing Dr. Nyis­zli strug­gles with.

My great-aunt, Sarah, was one of the chil­dren exper­i­mented on by the malev­o­lent Dr. Men­gele. She died young, in the mid 70s, when I was a child, but I will always remem­ber how beau­ti­ful she was. Later I found out that she asked my par­ents that I stop vis­it­ing her because she didn’t want me to see her dying.

I have read a lot of World War II books, and it still amazes me of the hor­rors which occur, and even more amaz­ing is the way peo­ple reacted. Jews walk­ing to the slaugh­ter and Ger­mans, Aus­tri­ans, Poles, and more who sim­ply stood by and watched. One of the most inter­est­ing parts of the book was the excel­lent intro­duc­tion by Bruno Bet­tel­heim and the one by Richard Seaver who attempts to explain this phe­nom­e­non which, unfor­tu­nately, we see to this day.

Dr. Nyis­zli describes the hor­ri­fy­ing things he has done and seen. Early in the book he turns a bit to a fan­tasy claim­ing that his research was used by the “most qual­i­fied med­ical cen­ters of the Third Reich” in the world. That insti­tu­tion, the Insti­tute for Race, Bio­log­i­cal, and Anthro­po­log­i­cal Inves­ti­ga­tion was focused on prov­ing racial supe­ri­or­ity, some­thing which can­not be proven.

It’s BS now as it was BS then, and I’m sure the Doc­tor knew it was BS when he wrote the book.

Yet, who am I to judge?

As in any mem­oir of sig­nif­i­cance and impor­tance, this one also is rid­dled with per­sonal sto­ries which really drive the tragedy of the Holo­caust into the heart. After all, such huge num­bers whether they be six mil­lion (Jews that were mur­dered), 12 mil­lion (total peo­ple which were mur­dered in the Nazi con­cen­tra­tion camps), 22–25 mil­lion (deaths of sol­diers in World war II) or 55–75 mil­lion (deaths of civil­ians in World War II) are so enor­mous that they defy logic and are one of the rea­sons peo­ple deny these events ever hap­pened despite the over­whelm­ing num­ber of evidence.

Dr. Nyis­zli tells us sto­ries he wit­nessed. A teenager who sur­vived the hor­rors of the gas cham­bers (there is a chill­ing account of what hap­pened inside), which he brought back from the dead only so she can be marched out and shot half an hour later. The amaz­ing story of the twelfth Son­derkom­mando, the Jews who worked the cre­ma­to­ria and revolted before they were bru­tally mur­dered. The Nazis replen­ished the Son­derkom­mando every four months, the first assign­ment of the new Son­derkom­mando was to get rid of the bod­ies of the old ones and await their fate.

The book is a cau­tion­ary tale on many lev­els; it is also an impor­tant his­tor­i­cal doc­u­ment and an excel­lent read. It was not easy to get through this book, and I had trep­i­da­tion about read­ing it at all. But I’m glad I did and you will be, too.

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  • Robert Keith Koledo

    Auschwitz: A Doctor’s Eye­wit­ness Account by Dr. Miklós Nyiszl. It has been 40 years since I read this book. The chilling images seared into my memory. This is not written by a professional writer, but by a medical doctor trying to recall his experience. If this was a novel I would call it dry. I was 18 at the time of my read which took one night, so shocked I read it to my girlfriend the next night beginning to end. I found no need to ever see a horror film since then. This book was loaned to me by a client of my Dad’s, a Mrs. K.. Mrs. K was an Auschwitz surviror, a beautiful woman, with a wonderful personality. She never hid her numbered tattoo and on occasion, when I was staring too much, would offer me her arm and ask if I wished to get a better look. I remember how soft her skin was and the odd color of the dye. She would calmly tell me this was the number they gave her when they tried to take away her name. Then one day she handed me this book, told me that if it wasn’t for the author, Dr. Nyiszl, she most likely would not have made it out alive. She developed a very high fever and he gave her medicine without Mengele’s knowledge. I never asked for her personal details, I know she survived over a year at the camp and was either 13 or 14 at the time. Please read this book, it changed me, I will never forget.

  • The trouble with historians is they stick to what they know, or discover and which is likely to be a safe validation bet. The problem I have had is that I approached Mengele from the literature of Monarch Programming, of which accounts would have him as the “father”. My supposed clash with a Mr Mengele minded by a younger man armed with a video camera also is deniable….after all Mengele died in 1979 didn’t he. I wasted nine years not bothering to pursue my research because Mengele was said to be dead…and my guy was shorter than the records everyone else depends upon. Well, I have been poked in the throat by a grinning chuckling wrinkly old man after a month of intensive research into the subject he was supposed to have been hired by Western intelligence agencies and I know which version of history I prefer.

  • My generation came post World War II. The article attests to important global history of the atrocities committed in Auschwitz and other camps. The totality of these crimes against humankind beg for eternal vigilance. Additional related witnesses to these atrocities are listed below.

    ” In all, 1.1 million people died during the four and a half years of Auschwitz’s existence; one million of them were Jewish men, women and children.

    � Only an estimated 11 percent of Jewish children who were alive in 1933 survived
    the Holocaust.

    � In total 90 percent of the Jewish population in Poland died –some
    2.8 million people.

    � Other groups who died included Polish political prisoners, Soviet prisoners of war, Romanies (“Gypsies”), people with disabilities, homosexuals and prisoners
    of conscience or religious faith ” …