#BookReview for Images of War – Auschwitz and Birkenau by Ian Baxter #ImagesofWar @penswordbooks #WWII #Auschwitz #Birkenau

Auschwitz and Birkenau were separate from each other,by about a 45 minute walk. Auschwitz was adapted to hold political prisoners in 1940 and evolved into a killing machine in 1941. Later that year a new site called Birkenau was found to extend the Auschwitz complex. Here a vast complex of buildings were constructed to hold initially Russian POWs and later Jews as a labour pool for the surrounding industries including IG Farben.

Following the January 1943 Wannsee Conference, Birkenau evolved into a murder factory using makeshift houses which were adapted to kill Jews and Russian POWs. Later due to sheer volume Birkenau evolved into a mass killing machine using gas chambers and crematoria, while Auschwitz, which still held prisoners, became the administrative centre.

The images show first Auschwitz main camp and then Birkenau and are carefully chosen to illustrate specific areas, like the Women’s Camp, Gypsy Camp, SS quarters, Commandant’s House, railway disembarkation, the ‘sauna’, disinfection area and the Crematoria. Maps covering Auschwitz and Birkenau explain the layout

This book is shocking proof of the scale of the Holocaust.



I really enjoy the books in this series and this one was no different.

This book is similar to the author’s other book in this series I have read that focussed solely on Auschwitz and its transition from holding camp through to the death camp it became and some of the text and images are the same, but this one has a different view in the main and looks upon Auschwitz and Birkenau, the camp that was created to support the main site once the number of executions at the park started to ramp up in number.

In the book you look at the images of the camp and the structures more than the people.  There are photos of the Hoss Villa, as it was known at the time, from both the exterior and also the interior and the views that they would have had from the windows had his family looked out.

The book is well written and it tells the story of the camps from their origins, through to their expansion and ultimately into the extermination and Death Camp that Auschwitz-Birkenau it is best known for today.  The topic does well in this book as the author lets the photographs tell the story. 

The chapters are well laid out and I liked that you could see the progression, there are a lot of similar photographs of the main site in terms of the perimeters and you have to use your imagination regarding what it would have been like.  It is also notable to see the number of German companies that were willing to help the Third Reich in their constructions and also firms such as IG Farben that located their site so they could use the labour from the camps.

This for me, is necessary reading for anyone interested in World War II and the atrocities committed during this.  This is something we should never forget happened and it is a book that I would recommend too – it is 4 stars from me for this one – highly recommended!

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