Inside the Gas Chambers : Eight Months in the Sonderkommando of Auschwitz

Shlomo Venezia’s Sonderkommando is a unique testimonial account of the horrors at the heart of the Nazi extermination machine, described by a man who was not supposed to emerge alive from the Hell on Earth that was Auschwitz. In March 1944, Shlomo Venezia is a vivacious, daring 21-year-old Italian living with his mother, brother and three sisters in an impoverished Jewish neighbourhood in the Greek city of Salonika. Disaster strikes when the German army receives orders to deport all Jews to concentration camps in occupied Poland. Shlomo and other members of his family are arrested and put the first convoy to Auschwitz. Upon arrival, his mother and two young sisters are immediately sent to gas chambers, but Shlomo finds himself in the Sonderkommando, the 'special unit' of male Jewish prisoners responsible for removing corpses from the gas chambers and burning them. The Germans had put in place a system whereby the members of the Sonderkommando would be "replaced" after three months, a system that broke down only in the final months of the war. Shlomo Venezia is thus one of the rare survivors of the “special units” and dispassionately details the grim round of daily tasks, the unending stream of men, women and children being marched to the gas chambers after arriving in cattle trucks from all over Europe, and the desperate Sonderkommando revolt of October 1944. "The force of this testimony emanates from the irreproachable honesty of its author, who describes nothing other than what he has personally witnessed, and there he leaves nothing out... With these simple words, Shlomo Venezia brings back to life the emaciated faces and the exhausted, resigned, and often terrorised stares of those men, women and children whom he met, once and for the last time..." Simone Veil, Auschwitz survivor, first elected president of the European Parliament, Honorary President of the Shoah Memorial Foundation in France

Number of pages :
Author :
Shlomo Venezia

Buy this book in paperback