Remem­ber­ing Sur­vival: Inside a Nazi Slave Labor Camp

Christo­pher R. Browning
  • Review
By – September 13, 2011
Upon read­ing sur­vivors’ accounts of life in ghet­tos, slave-labor camps, and even killing camps, one won­ders how any sur­vived. Depend­ing on the reli­gios­i­ty of the tes­ti­fi­er, they attribute either it to a mir­a­cle, to God’s inter­ven­tion, to luck, to a par­tic­u­lar per­son who helped them to sur­vive, or oth­er sur­vival strate­gies. Draw­ing on the tes­ti­mo­ny of sur­vivors of the Strat­a­chow­ice slave labor camps in Poland, Brown­ing describes many of these strate­gies. In the end, Brown­ing agrees that those who sur­vived often had the ties of fam­i­ly and neigh­bors to sus­tain and help them; those who did not usu­al­ly per­ished. Brown­ing also dis­cuss­es the fact that despite the incrim­i­nat­ing eye­wit­ness tes­ti­mo­ny of sur­vivors, many of the per­pe­tra­tors are acquit­ted. As if to reit­er­ate that fact, the lawyer for Nazi war crim­i­nal John Dem­jan­juk assert­ed that his Ukrain­ian client (an acces­so­ry to the mur­der of 29,700 Jews at the Sobi­bor death camp in Poland in 1943) should not be held account­able for fol­low­ing the orders of high­er-ups in Ger­many, many of whom escaped pun­ish­ment. Illus­tra­tions, notes, photos.
Mar­cia W. Pos­ner, Ph.D., of the Holo­caust Memo­r­i­al and Tol­er­ance Cen­ter of Nas­sau Coun­ty, is the library and pro­gram direc­tor. An author and play­wright her­self, she loves review­ing for JBW and read­ing all the oth­er reviews and arti­cles in this mar­velous periodical.

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