Submitted by: Don Schilling (Schilling@CC.DENISON.EDU)
Bruce Campbell has asked about memoirs by perpetrators. Given perpetrators' reluctance to reveal their culpability, there is obviously a lack of this kind of material. Let me suggest Rudolf Höß, COMMANDANT OF AUSCHWITZ which Höß wrote in early 1947 while in a Polish prison as he was about to stand trial for his crimes. This work must be used with obvious caution for it is rife with self-justification and is not always accurate, but it is fascinating and revealing. It is currently available under the title DEATH DEALER: THE MEMOIRS OF THE SS KOMMANDANT AT AUSCHWITZ, ed. by Steven Paskuly and published by Prometheus Books. A segment of his memoirs plus part of the diary of Johann Paul Kemer, and the remininscenes of Pery Broad can be found in KL AUSCHWITZ SEEN BY THE SS (Warsaw: Interpress Publishers, 1991). I would also suggest Gitta Sereny, INTO THAT DARKNESS: AN EXAMINATION OF CONSCIENCE (New York: Vintage Books, 1983), a powerful work based on Sereny's searing interrogation of Franz Stangl, the commandant of both Sobibor and Treblinka. Robert Lifton, NAZI DOCTORS (New York: Basic Books, 1986), also includes some excellent personal material from doctors who worked at Auschwitz.
Hope this helps,
Donald G. Schilling
Department of History
Granville, OH 43023
(614) 587-6408 (O)
(614) 522-5380 (H)
Fax (614) 587-6417
Submitted by: Sam Goodfellow
Rudolf Höß, Kommandant in Auschwitz would be a good source for testimony from a Holocaust perpetrator. I don't know if it has been translated into English. If it has not, then Höß's testimony at the Nuremburg trials is available and probably covers much of the same ground.
Another source that is more secondary in nature is Lifton's, Nazi Doctors, which is based on interviews. The Sorrow and the Pity (Ophuls) has some revealing interviews with SS veterans as well.
Submitted by: Ami D. Neiberger
The memoirs of the camp commandant of Auschwitz, Rudolf Höß, are available in English and in German. I think that the English translation is titled DEATH DEALER. He says quite a bit about how the camp was organized, and how he felt about what he'd done. Another way to get at this might be to look at Gerald Posner's book, HITLER'S CHILDREN, because it contains the memories of the children of many high-ranking Nazi officials, and what they thought of their heritage and their parents.
As to kapos, I think that Eugene Kogon, (THE THEORY AND PRACTICE OF HELL), held a position with some authority within Buchenwald, but I don't think we can call him a perpetrator. He probably was not the type of kapo (if he was a full-fledged one), which your student was querying about. Kapos tended to be political or criminal prisoners, who had been in the camps for years. While some were Jewish, many were not, which would decrease the chances of you finding material specifically by Jewish kapos.
I too would like to know if there are any memoirs out there by former kapos. I am presently completing my master's thesis, using memoirs from Auschwitz. Most memoirs have extremely negative memories of kapos-occasionally someone remembers an act of kindness from a kapo, but this was rare. There were many other privileged positions for people to move into besides being a kapo (ie. messengers, office workers, Kanada, kitchen help, etc.). Often those privileges and what prisoners did with them made the difference between life and death for themselves and for others. Some people used these privileges to help others, and some did not. While we would certainly not call most of these camp functionaries perpetrators, how people handled their privileges and interacted with other non-privileged inmates merits study and would be easier to research than kapos.
I'm at work, so pardon some of the titles if they are a little off.
Grad Student, University of Florida
Submitted by: Keith H. Pickus
You might want to refer to Raul Hilberg's Perpetraitors, Victims and Bystanders:The Jewish Catastrophe 1933-1945 for additional information and possible leads for sources.
Department of History
Wichita State University