Book Review: Auschwitz by Dr. Miklós Nyiszli

October 20, 2011


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.

Buy Auschwitz: A Doctor's Eyewitness Account from*My rating for Auschwitz: A Doctor’s Eyewitness 5
Buy Auschwitz: A Doctor’s Eyewitness Account from*

More Books by Miklós Nyiszli*


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’d 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?

Dr. Miklós Nyiszli

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 so will you.

So tell me, what is the most sobering book you’ve read?


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.

My rating for Auschwitz: A Doctor’s Eyewitness – 5
Buy Auschwitz: A Doctor’s Eyewitness Account from*
More Books by Miklós Nyiszli*

Zohar – Man of la Book
Disclaimer: I got bought this book.
*Ama­zon links point to an affil­i­ate account, the money is usually spent on books
Article first published as Book Review: Auschwitz: A Doctor’s Eye­wit­ness Account by Dr. Miklós Nyiszli on Blogcritics.

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


  • Courtney ReneOctober 20, 2011 at 11:36 am

    I just finished this book myself. It was a startling book and hard to read at some parts and facinating in others. My gran’pa was always talking about that war and how hard it was on the ones that survived. He was a soldier and it was hard for him. I can’t fathom how hard it would be for the camp survivors or the ones that were forced to take part in the travesty of their own people. This book haunts me. Good post today.


    • zoharOctober 20, 2011 at 10:49 pm

      Thank you for the kind words. I’m sure your gran’pa could write his own book. Those who haven’t seen war cannot imagine the unimaginable.

    • kerrimJanuary 5, 2012 at 9:36 am

      i just finished this book yesterday. i have always been fascinated with all things having to do with Hitler and the concentration camps. Although a very disturbing book, it’s a must read.

      • Zohar - Man of la BookJanuary 5, 2012 at 9:41 am

        That is one of the comment most of the people I talked to have about this book – disturbing but a must read.

  • KarolineOctober 20, 2011 at 12:07 pm

    I’ve been meaning to read this for a long time now. Just haven’t been able to find it anywhere (I might have to do an interlibrary loan on this one)it seems like a difficult read, but one that must be read regardless.

    • zoharOctober 20, 2011 at 10:50 pm

      It’s not a difficult read from a technical perspective, but an emotional one. If you have an eReader the book is $1.99

  • HODGEPODGESPVOctober 20, 2011 at 3:51 pm

    I sometimes wonder if there are just more books written about the camps in Germany than in Japan, which have equally horrible stories, or do I just find more about what the Germans did. Thank you for giving me book to add to my wish list.

    • zoharOctober 20, 2011 at 10:51 pm

      All the camps have horrible stories, Japan, Russia, etc. and there are books about them. However Germany out did all of them (12 million civilians murdered).

  • Alex BaughOctober 21, 2011 at 8:25 am

    I am sorry to hear that your aunt was one of Mengele’s victims. It always amazed me that a doctor could do the things he did. I have seen this book, but haven’t read it yet. Thanks for this great review.

  • AnnaOctober 21, 2011 at 12:15 pm

    This sounds like a heartbreaking book, more so for you because of the family connection. I’ll link to your review on War Through the Generations.

  • Carin S.October 21, 2011 at 7:00 pm

    The most sobering book I’ve read was probably Dead Man Walking by Sister Helen Prejean. I stupidly read it at work but once I started it I couldn’t stop. I’m a little burnt out on WWII books at the moment (although I did just read one tangentially related – The Piano Teacher).

  • AthsOctober 23, 2011 at 1:26 pm

    That is chilling. I’m not sure how I would read the book, but I do want to read it. Thanks for reviewing it.

    • zoharOctober 24, 2011 at 10:51 am

      Aths, that’s what many people say but they cannot put it down once started.

  • popoloverDecember 15, 2011 at 9:37 pm

    For a good read about Japenese POW camps, try Unbroken. I believe the author is Laura Hidenbrandt (she also wrote Sea Biscuit). It is an amazing true story. I couldn’t put it down. I have also read Auschwitz, and found it fascinating and terrifying at the same time.

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