Saturday, September 19, 2015
Devoted to Terror Thomas Laqueur A History of the Nazi Concentration Camps by Nikolaus Wachsmann
‘May the world at least behold a drop, a fraction of this tragic world in which we lived,’ Salmen Gradowski wrote in a letter dated 6 September 1944, which he buried in a flask found near the crematoria of Auschwitz-Birkenau after its liberation. His words supply the epigram for Nikolaus Wachsmann’s history of the concentration camps, KL – the Nazi abbreviation of Konzentrationslager. Wachsmann’s book is a world-making history: from the close observations of individual lives and moments, and of historical forces great and small, his subject emerges. It is no ordinary world. ‘There are times when history is let off the leash,’ the Polish academic Jan Kott remembered one of his teachers saying of the war years. Wachsmann understands this..