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A startling, sobering book. Shocking that it happened seventy years ago; shocking that so many--American as well as German, Arab and Iranian--now deny it happened. George Santayana's famous dictum comes to mind: As our knowledge and technology grows, so our ability to exercise inhumanity on our fellow man grows.

And no one is safe from it. I recently read a devotional declaring on God's behalf, "then I surround you with a protective screen that keeps all evil from you. Tell that to the men and women who liberated those camps and asked "Why? No, it can happen and it can happen to any of us. Worse, it may happen that we--by our action or inaction--can allow it. As Edmund Burke said, "All that is necessary for evil to triumph is for good men to do nothing.

It is a history book; a record; a testimony by men and women of the atrocities they personally witnessed. Enough detail is provided to document the truth of their statements. This book was recommended to me by one of the See his story at: The greatest generation had to fight its way through the Normandy hedgerows, the rivers of Lorraine, and the Ardennes campaign. Then, the following spring, as the Nazi resistance was collapsing, they had to face a totally new horror -- the liberation of the concentration camps throughout Germany, Austria, and the rest of liberated Europe.

The book is well written and is based on hundreds of interviews with GI's, a few of whom were held in concentration camps or POW camps, most of whom played some role in liberating one or more camps. The stories they tell are horrifying. They're authentic memories from officers and foot soldiers, not trained psychologists. The book tells the story of the liberation and the immediate aftermath, when inmates welcomed their liberators and in some cases took revenge on the few guards who hadn't fled as Allied armies approached. It also tells the story of the reaction of Allied generals, including Eisenhower, Bradley, and Patton.

The story of Eisenhower's tour of one camp is especially moving as he painstakingly checked out every corner of the camp, making sure he took in every detail so that he could be an informed witness in the future if others charged that the Holocaust was "made up. There is some debate about how much the Allied high command knew, but there can be no doubt that these GI's and officers were taken totally by surprise. WWII veterans were famously eager to get on with their lives once they returned home and famously reticent about their combat experiences.

When I was young, every adult male I knew had been in the armed services during WWII, yet I don't remember hearing a single "war story" in all the years I was growing up. This book gives ample reason for why that might have been. The weight these young men must have carried the rest of their lives is almost inconceivable. Kindle Edition Verified Purchase. The soldiers who marched into concentration camps on German soil all shared similar reactions: None of the soldiers was prepared for the sights that greeted them on entering the camps. They were all battle hardened soldiers.

They had seen people burnt, shot and blown to bits.

nifaquniky.cf: The Liberators: America's Witnesses to the Holocaust eBook: Michael Hirsh: Kindle Store

But it didn't prepare them for the enormity of the camps. Many of the soldiers tell stories of how they merely stood by when inmates took revenge on their former captors. One soldier recalls that an inmate asked him for a weapon. Another tells of how he watched a group of inmates bludgeoning a guard to death with a bicycle. The most profound chapter is the final one. Here the veterans, all in the eighties and nineties, discuss how they feel now about their memories of more than sixty years ago.

All of them are still traumatized to one degree or another. Many of them only spent an hour or two in the camps before moving on to chase the enemy. But those few hours left the most indelible impressions. One person found this helpful 2 people found this helpful. This is the best book I ever read on the subject of the Holocaust.


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He spends much of his spare time reading up on things that happened during WWII, and still learned a lot. The book pulls no punches in describing the holocaust, and is not for the squeamish. However, the first-person reports of what was found, mixed in with background information, and reproduced historical documents makes this the best book I read not just on the Holocaust, but on WWII, in general. Some men discovered God and some lost their faith.

And some shoved the sights and smells into a box of horrors they tried to keep tightly shut. It was a horrible sight, but we had been used to seeing horrible sights," recalls a tank commander of liberating a subcamp of Mauthausen. While well-meaning, Hirsh's book can't overcome its flaws. Many, but not all, of them did not speak about their experiences for decades after the war. Some just wanted to put it in the past. Others found t Michael Hirsh spoke with over Americans who were among the first to encounter Nazi concentration camps, sometimes mere hours after German troops had deserted them.

Others found that nobody wanted to hear about it. Many say they began speaking publicly about what they saw in response to Holocaust deniers and with the realization that soon there will be no witnesses left to speak out. These who saw atrocities against their fellow man that still give them nightmares speak out to anyone who will listen in the hope that learning about the past will spark a desire to prevent it from recurring. That is the reason to read books like this. It is difficult to read about such monstrous hatred.


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  • It is honestly not something I like to think about, such pervasive evil, so much passivity to evil. I am a lover of happily ever afters, gardens in bloom, and laughing babies We need to know and remember and make sure future generations do, too. While it is interesting to hear about the liberation of Holocaust survivors from the point-of-view of American soldiers, the stories, being limited in scope, wind up being fairly repetitive.

    Mar 30, Jeremy rated it it was amazing. I'm convinced that one should read a book about the Holocaust every few years. Especially now that the original witnesses are passing away. May 05, Andy rated it really liked it. Well, i guess as far as WW2 books I've read go, this might be considered one of the happier ones. It's all interviews with soldiers who were at the liberation or soon after of the concentration camps.

    To put it simply i think it's what you'd expect. Lately I've been looking for some stuff on the "payback" from the prisoners to the guards and got a few good stories on that subject. Also after reading book after book about how little support a lot of the prisoners got even after li Well, i guess as far as WW2 books I've read go, this might be considered one of the happier ones. Also after reading book after book about how little support a lot of the prisoners got even after liberation it's good to read about people who supported them and who felt the rage that must've been felt seeing humans treat others this way.

    And the actions that the liberating soldiers also took on the Nazi gaurds.

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    As I say in most of my reviews, a great and emotional read! Oct 05, David rated it liked it. I've been doing a lot of "light" reading of late, and this work is certainly the antithesis of light. Hirsh has interviewed hundreds of American GIs and nurses who happened to be among the units who discovered the Nazi concentration camps throughout Eastern Europe. These first-hand accounts are graphic and chilling.

    This should be required reading for those idiots who doubt the Holocaust. Jan 03, Jody rated it really liked it Shelves: I have read a lot of Holocaust books and while this one wasn't my favorite it gave me a new perspective. I have always focused on those who were imprisoned in those awful places but the Liberators allowed to me view the death camps through the eyes of the men and women who were at ground zero helping those prisoners to survive their liberation.

    I never thought of the shock it was to the liberating armies to learn and see the result of so much hatred being allowed to run free. I highly recommend I have read a lot of Holocaust books and while this one wasn't my favorite it gave me a new perspective.

    WWII Veterans and Concentration Camp Liberators

    I highly recommend this book. Aug 22, Doug rated it it was amazing.

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    This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. I only say, that next time you read about man's cruelty to man and our complacency to human events you consider these stories. The following quote sums up this book better than I, Delbert Cooper wrote to his wife after liberating Gunskirchen concentration camp: There are two things about this I want to tell you: I never again want to see anything like that happen to anyone.

    Book review: 'The Liberators,' by Michael Hirsh

    I wish the million American people could have been standing in my shoes. Jul 19, Karolinde Kari rated it it was amazing Shelves: This book is a must read for everyone. Michael Hirsh has interviewed survivors and pored over countless documents in order to tell the story of the men who freed the camps, and in some cases, where prisoners there themselves. Hirsh's warning to not let their language and descriptions become jaded or simplistic but to try and imagine what they meant to the soldiers who were there is a warning that we should all heed.

    A book I plan to buy and reread. Sep 17, AnnaMarie rated it really liked it. This was a good read. Easy enough to not have to struggle through it though my progress slowed as the accounts were similar , and REAL. It makes me want to find a WWII vet and talk to him or her. It also makes me think about what's going on in our world today that we might look back in shock that we let it go on. I'd recommend this book especially if you have never read anything like it.

    Nov 07, Rae rated it really liked it Shelves: A most sobering if not particularly well-written collection of liberation stories from the American soldiers who were there to free the concentration camp victims. I was especially moved by the chapter on how these men dealt with the experience and their memories after they came back to the States. Truly, they were a great generation. Feb 07, Janeth rated it it was amazing. I've waiting to read this even before it was ever written. Meaning that i always wondered what all the liberators felt when they came upon the concentration camps.

    I was immensely happy to see that my wishes had finally become a reality and in no better way. This book is extremely insightfull. Jan 06, Sarah K rated it really liked it Shelves: Aug 22, Joan rated it it was amazing Shelves: Such a terrible time in history but if you enjoy books about The Holocaust I recommend this highly. Apr 22, DeliaC rated it really liked it.

    The focus on the last few days of the war and the Nazi obsession with exterminating the Jews and their other prisoners made these men's stories powerful. Apr 05, Michelle Joy marked it as to-read. I need to read this book still, but am looking forward to it due to my job being the transcribing of the interviews used to write this book. Sep 20, Jeanne rated it liked it.