B214 - Auschwitz: A Judge Looks at the Evidence / by Wilhelm Staeglich

Books about Auschwitz, the notorious World War 11 German concentration camp, are not uncommon. But Auschwitz: A Judge Looks at the Evidence, may be fairly said to be unique.

Its author, Dr. Wilhelm Staglich, brings the rare perspective of a wartime eyewitness, whose duties as a German anti-aircraft artillery officer took him to Auschwitz in 1944, and an experienced magistrate,

who served for twenty years in the judiciary of the West German city of Hamburg.

What the young German officer saw there contrasts sharply with common notions of the camp:

“At that time, in the so-called Stammluger [original camp] of Auschwitz, I saw orderly quarters and sanitary facilities, and internees who were well nourished and who appeared to have neither special demoralization nor fear, let alone a fear of death.

“Moreover, I never noticed mistreatments of internees nor, in particular, any sign-such as clouds of smoke or the stench of burning corpses-of the mass extermination of human beings.”

Disturbed by the obvious discrepancies between what he witnessed and the picture of Auschwitz which emerged at the war’s end, Staeglich, who after the war earned his doctorate in law at the famous University of Gottingen and then completed a distinguished career on the bench, at length undertook to confront his own past, that of his country, and the evidence for mass inhumanity at Auschwitz.

The result, Auschwitz: A Judge Looks at the Evidence, is a systematic, critical examination of the documents, testimonies, confessions, and personal accounts which represent Auschwitz as a center for programmatic extermination by gassing and other means.

The fulminations of Hitler and Goebbels, the bureaucratic formulations of Himmler and Eichmann, the confessions of Auschwitz commandant Rudolf Hoss, the accounts of Auschwitz inmates from Vrba and Nyiszli to FilipMiiller and Primo Levi, the vast accumulation of expert testimony at the famous West German Auschwitz trial: Dr. Staeglich has sifted through all of them, evaluated all of them, and pronounced on their evidential value in establishing Auschwitz as an extermination center.

Auschwitz: A Judge Looks at the Evidence caused a sensation when it was first published in West Germany. Bristling with original documents (in English and German), rare photographs, and the controlled passion of a jurist in search of truth and justice,Auschwitz: A Judge Looks at the Evidence is an indispensablecontribution to the continuing Auschwitz debate and the ongoing quest for a better knowledge of the past.