The International School for Holocaust Studies
Auschwitz-Prozess 4 ks 2/63
Reviewed by Dr. Gideon Greif
Edited by Irmtrud Wojak and the Fritz Bauer Institut Staff
Fritz Bauer Institut, 2005
This is one of the heaviest books (in terms of sheer weight) on the Holocaust that has appeared in the last decade. Yet any effort invested in reading it (and carrying it) is well worthwhile. This volume, published concurrently with the ongoing historical exhibition in German cities marking 40 years since the Frankfurt Trials (1963-1965), is a treasure trove of information on Auschwitz, the Jewish and non-Jewish victims, the German perpetrators, and their collaborators.
Anything you have ever wanted to know about the Auschwitz Trials, the history of the camp, its structure, functioning, and organization can be found in this book. Much effort has obviously been invested in all facets of its preparation: research, assembly of artifacts and historical documents, design, and printing. The editing job is superb; there are virtually no printing or linguistic errors.
The book stresses the historical importance of the Auschwitz criminals' trials, unofficially named the "Frankfurt Trials", conducted in Germany in the 1960's. As a result of these trials, German society was confronted for the first time with German crimes carried out against Jews and others in the Auschwitz-Birkenau extermination camp. They now faced hundreds of personal testimonies relating to German atrocities: abuse, unbounded violence, humiliations, sadism, barbarism, and finally ruthless murder. The Frankfurt Trials fundamentally shifted the attitude of the German public towards Nazi atrocities and greatly increased awareness of the brutal history of Auschwitz-Birkenau.
The book is a valuable resource for anyone who wishes to deepen his or her knowledge of the trials. It also stands as a tribute to Dr. Fritz Bauer, District Attorney in Hesse, without whose insistence, perseverance, and bravery, these trials would never have had taken place.