This is a brief but absorbing study by one of the world's great experts on the Holocaust, who has drawn on a huge body of material to depict one of the unforgettable events in recent history from an arresting and unfamiliar point of view.
In this incredible memoir, Sam Halpern lovingly and mournfully shares his life story—from his vibrant childhood in Chorostkow, Poland, to the horrors of the labor camp he was forced into by the Nazis, and ultimately his survival with his brother Arie. We see Sam’s deep affection for his parents, Mordechai Dov and Bella Halpern, and brothers, Naftali, Avrum Chaim, and Arie, and are introduced to the people, customs, and traditions of the Chorostkow shtetl. We also have an up-close view of the cruelty and horror inflicted by the Nazis. While in a forced labor camp, Sam is beaten, nearly starved, and ill with typhus, but ultimately as a result of street smarts and divine intervention, Sam and Arie escape and are miraculously hidden until liberation. Throughout the darkness, they maintain hope. After the war, Sam meets Gladys, the exceptional woman who becomes the love of his life and with whom he will raise four sons. Together with Arie, they eventually make it to the United States where they raise families and are international advocates for the Jewish community.
This beautifully written story was originally published in 1996. This new edition features a moving contribution by Rabbi Israel Meir Lau and a wealth of new photos, and is published in honor of Sam and in advance of what would have been his one hundredth birthday.
"A harrowing, beautifully written and extremely well-researched account of a little-known aspect of the Holocaust. Patricia Posner's fine prose style grips from page one, and the horror will stay with you long after you finish the book." – Andrew Roberts, author: The Storm of War
"A gruesome story, eloquently told." – Kirkus Reviews
"Posner avoids sensationalism and gives us a harrowing and important read." – Jewish Renaissance
"Posner's book doubles as the spellbinding story of Nazi Germany's largest industrial conglomerate, I.G. Farben . . . [and] in one important way, her book is a celebration of a rare kind of heroism. Its compelling side story offers an in-depth profile of Nazi hunter Fritz Bauer, who proved relentless in hunting down Capesius and bringing him to justice." – Dallas Morning News
"The research is impeccable . . . The prose is clear and concise . . . Good for you, Patricia Posner, for documenting a story that really is not yet over. This is a gripping read. Highly recommended." – miamiartzine
The Pharmacist of Auschwitz is the little known story of Victor Capesius, a Bayer pharmaceutical salesman from Romania who, at the age of 35, joined the Nazi SS in 1943 and quickly became the chief pharmacist at the largest death camp, Auschwitz.
Based in part on previously classified documents, Patricia Posner exposes Capesius’s reign of terror at the camp, his escape from justice, fueled in part by his theft of gold ripped from the mouths of corpses, and how a handful of courageous survivors and a single brave prosecutor finally brought him to trial for murder twenty years after the end of the war.
The Pharmacist of Auschwitz is much more, though, than a personal account of Capesius. It provides a spellbinding glimpse inside the devil’s pact made between the Nazis and Germany’s largest conglomerate, I.G. Farben, and its Bayer pharmaceutical subsidiary. The story is one of murder and greed with its roots in the dark heart of the Holocaust. It is told through Nazi henchmen and industrialists turned war criminals, intelligence agents and zealous prosecutors, and intrepid concentration camp survivors and Nazi hunters.
Set against a backdrop ranging from Hitler’s war to conquer Europe to the Final Solution to postwar Germany’s tormented efforts to confront its dark past, Posner shows the appalling depths to which ordinary men descend when they are unrestrained by conscience or any sense of morality. The Pharmacist of Auschwitz is a moving saga that lingers long after the final page.
Do You Think You Know World War II?
•Top Ten Speeches
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•Top Ten Most Popular Myths and Misconceptions
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•Top Ten Military Blunders
This is a shocking, brutal story that has never before been told. It is the most important study of Polish-Jewish relations to be published in decades and should become a classic of Holocaust literature.
Jan Gross pieces together eyewitness accounts and other evidence into an engulfing reconstruction of the horrific July day remembered well by locals but forgotten by history. His investigation reads like a detective story, and its unfolding yields wider truths about Jewish-Polish relations, the Holocaust, and human responses to occupation and totalitarianism. It is a story of surprises: The newly occupying German army did not compel the massacre, and Jedwabne's Jews and Christians had previously enjoyed cordial relations. After the war, the nearby family who saved Jedwabne's surviving Jews was derided and driven from the area. The single Jew offered mercy by the town declined it.
Most arresting is the sinking realization that Jedwabne's Jews were clubbed, drowned, gutted, and burned not by faceless Nazis, but by people whose features and names they knew well: their former schoolmates and those who sold them food, bought their milk, and chatted with them in the street. As much as such a question can ever be answered, Neighbors tells us why.
In many ways, this is a simple book. It is easy to read in a single sitting, and hard not to. But its simplicity is deceptive. Gross's new and persuasive answers to vexed questions rewrite the history of twentieth-century Poland. This book proves, finally, that the fates of Poles and Jews during World War II can be comprehended only together.
1939: the Germans have invaded Poland. The keepers of the Warsaw zoo, Jan and Antonina Zabinski, survive the bombardment of the city, only to see the occupiers ruthlessly kill many of their animals. The Nazis then carry off the prized specimens to Berlin for their program to create the “purest” breeds, much as they saw themselves as the purest human race. Opposed to all the Nazis represented, the Zabinskis risked their lives by hiding Jews in the now-empty animal cages, saving as many as three hundred people from extermination. Acclaimed, best-selling author Diane Ackerman, fascinated both by the Zabinskis’ courage and by Antonina’s incredible sensitivity to all living beings, tells a moving and dramatic story of the power of empathy and the strength of love.
A Focus Features release, it is directed by Niki Caro, written by Angela Workman.
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