Piotr M. A. CywińskiApr 16, 2023
A Monograph on the Human
Muzeum Auschwitz 2023
Auschwitz is perhaps the best-known memorial site in the world. Epicenter of the Nazi extermination campaign of Europe’s Jewish population, the Auschwitz-Birkenau camp system also held over 400,000 inmates (Jews and Gentiles both) in unspeakable conditions. Famous survivors such as Elie Wiesel and Primo Levi are widely read by high-schoolers and undergraduates, but a synoptic overview of the human experience and emotions of the Auschwitz inmates has long been missing. Piotr M.A. Cywiński, the director of Poland’s Auschwitz-Birkenau State Museum, has produced a monumental 590-page work that seeks to fill this gap. On the basis of tens of thousands of pages of survivor testimony – some published, some drawn directly from the archives – Cywiński has assembled a topical overview of the Auschwitz “experience,” ranging from loneliness to empathy, numbness to decency, hunger to suicide, sex to religious faith.
Auschwitz: A Monograph on the Human (Auschwitz-Birkenau State Museum, 2022) is a breakthrough new pedagogical and reference tool for scholars of the Holocaust, genocide studies, and World War II.
Piotr H. Kosicki is Associate Professor of History at the University of Maryland, College Park. He is the author of Catholics on the Barricades (Yale, 2018) and editor, among others, of Political Exile in the Global Twentieth Century (with Wolfram Kaiser).