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Witness : Images of Auschwitz by David Olere
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Witness : Images of Auschwitz

by David Olere

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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 094103769X, Hardcover)

This book is a legacy of enormous historical importance. At a time when many are actually denying the existence of the Holocaust, we have decided to publish for the first time this important visual eye witness evidence. David Olère, the only artist to survive imprisonment in Auschwitz, drew upon his own experiences as a laborer in the gas chambers, furnaces, and examination rooms to illustrate what actually went on within the crematorium and other places that no photographer entered until after the war. The drawings are accompanied by a moving text written by Olère’s son, based on his father’s experiences. This book will make you feel like an eye witness yourself. This work is published so that those who never experienced the Holocaust and all future generations may witness themselves, through Olère’s eyes, the terrible cruelty of which political systems with unchecked power are capable.

Some of the images in this book are very disturbing. We do not recommend it for children.

An estimated six million Jews were systematically exterminated by Hitler’s SS during World War II. This slaughter took place at several camps throughout Europe. Primary among these was Auschwitz II at Birkenau, Poland, where more than a million people were sent to the gas chambers—most of them Jews. The SS offered a few prisoners the chance to work in exchange for a little more time to live, but this usually was only a slower form of death. Only about one out of a hundred people deported to Auschwitz survived the war. One of the cruelest forms of forced labor was the corps of SonderKommando, prisoners who had to work in the crematoria. They were constantly driven to work faster to keep up with the intense schedule of slaughter. When they were too exhausted to satisfy their persecutors, they were sent into the gas chambers themselves. The typical life span of these unfortunates ranged from a few hours to a few weeks. Only a handful of SonderKommando survived the war.

One of these was David Olère, a Jewish artist who was born in Poland, but had emigrated to France. He was arrested in 1943 and managed to survive nearly two years at Auschwitz, primarily because the SS desired to make use of his artistic and linguistic skills.

While his wife and son hid out in France, Olère witnessed unbelievable sights never recorded by cameras: the rape and murder of young women; live babies being thrown into burning trenches; Jews, Christians, and Communists celebrating Christmas together at Auschwitz, a Catholic priest who elected to go to the gas chambers himself rather than abandon a young Jewish boy whose care had been charged to him; and worst of all, the horrendous work in Crematorium III.

As soon as he was liberated, Olère began to sketch scenes, portraits, and diagrams from memory. These constitute the only visual record of much of what went on at Auschwitz. His drawings were used by those charged with investigating the Holocaust and now hang in museums around the world.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:25:08 -0400)

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