Tuesday, January 27, 2009
Sixty-four years ago today, Soviet soldiers liberated Auschwitz, one of the largest concentration camps established by the Germans during World War II. The United Nations now recognizes January 27 as an International Day of Commemoration for victims of the Holocaust.
Allied forces would liberate many other camps that spring, revealing photos and stories of atrocity that stunned the world.
Historian Robert H. Abzug chronicles American soldiers’ eye-witness accounts in the seminal work “Inside the Vicious Heart: Americans and the Liberation of Nazi Concentration Camps” (Oxford University Press, 1987).
The book combines historical analysis with personal testimonies, and includes many of the photos of unimaginable suffering that later appeared in magazines and newsreels. As the last World War II veterans pass away in the coming years, the significance of books that preserve their experiences, like “Inside the Vicious Heart,” will only continue to grow.
At the time of its publication, the book earned numerous accolades. Newsday proclaimed it “forceful and riveting,” and The New York Times praised Abzug’s “excellent job sifting both the testimony itself and the reactions of Americans back home.”