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The Good Old Days: The Holocaust as Seen by Its Perpetrators and Bystanders [Hardcover]

Ernst Klee , Willi Dressen , Volker Reiss
4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)

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Book Description

February 1997
One of the painfully riveting books of our time. A first hand account of the greatest mass murder in history as told by the active and passive participants in genocide. What is different about this book is that it contains carefully compiled letters, journal entries and voluminous correspondence that prove beyond doubt that more members of the German population than ever before admitted to knew about the Holocaust while it was happening.

With over 90 photographs

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Product Description

From Publishers Weekly

The title refers to a caption in the scrapbook of Kurt Franz, the commandant of the Treblinka concentration camp. Underneath the heading "Those Were the Days," and reproduced here, are pictures of smiling officers at a site where some 700,000 people were exterminated in the gas chambers. To refute revisionist historians who negate the testimony of Holocaust survivors, and to disprove those Germans who said they were coerced into murdering Jews, the German authors--Klee is a journalist, Dressen a lawyer and Riess a historian--present the damning and harrowing diaries, letters, photo albums and official reports of Germans who willingly participated in the Final Solution. A member of a unit that killed 33,771 Jews in the Ukranian Babi Yar ravine boasts: "It's almost impossible to imagine what nerves of steel it took to carry out that dirty work down there." Of the annihilation of thousands of Jews in White Russia, a commander says, "The action rid me of unneccessary mouths to feed." And wagging its tail for the camera is Franz's dog, which on numerous occasions was set upon Jews to bite off their genitals.
Copyright 1991 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Library Journal

As the first sentence of the foreword states, "This is a horrible book to read, and yet one that should be read." Klee, Willi Dresen, and Volker Riess have compiled a brutal and chilling rebuttal to the revisionist historians who question the statistics on, as well as the very existence of, the "final solution." This book is a collection of interviews, photographs, diary entries, and reports from German eyewitnesses, including members of the SS. They offer frightening insight into the mindset of the people who carried out the attempted extermination of an entire race. A disturbing, necessary reminder of the past and a warning for the future, this is recommended for larger public libraries as well as special collections.
- D.L. Braddock, Corbit-Calloway Memorial Lib., Odessa, Del.
Copyright 1991 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Customer Reviews

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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars My Thoughts on this book... Dec 7 2006
By Me
Yeah, I read this book last year in grade nine. I thought that it was an amazing book, but I was disturbed by things mentioned in the book. The different methods described about how people were killed were horrible. I have heard of these methods before, but out of a text book, but when you actually read in detail, by the people who did these things what happened, it's like your finding out what happened for the first time. For example I knew that people were killed in the backs of ans with the gas pipes and such, but when you actually read about it in detail, it's horrible. It's hard to imagine how people could do such things to other beings. To think that these people that were killing were mentally stable, yet, they could commit such horrible hate crimes and still be able to feel good about themselves at the end of the day. Overall though, I recommend this book for anybody who is interested in the Holocaust. I give it 5 stars for it's truthfull content and how it's not written like a textbook you'd find in a classroom. I find when books are written in a textbook like manner, people don't take it seriously, and they find it boring, and the facts get pushed into the backs of people's minds along with math equations and other boring history subjects. This book however is written well, so it isn't boring, I was hardly able to put the book down. It's interesting from the first to the last word. An Amazing book...
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
The title suggests this book is comprised of reminiscing reflections from sadistic, self-satisfied Nazi war criminals. In fact, most of the observations in written and spoken testimonies, diaries and documents, suggest the ´¿Perpetrators and Bystanders´¿ were appalled. Frequently, however, they were only bothered by the manner of the beatings and executions. Those whose material contributed to this book had to see starved women beg for their lives-- soon to be corpses pulled from gas chambers by hooks on sticks inserted into their mouths to make for easy dragging-- Nazi mass executions of Jews by bullet in which many near dead tumbled into communal graves begged to be shot again, or even crowbar execution beatings by SS-supervised Ukrainians, and so on, before returning to enjoy their privileged lives away from real military action.
In a section on the camps, an SS Doctor, Johannes Kremer, Mengele-like, describes how he ´¿reserves´¿ certain starving prisoners who are particularly interesting to him medically, for warm disections. On the next entry of his diary he says: "´¿There was roast hare for lunch´¿a real fat leg´¿with dumplings and red cabbage´¿" His remark, chosen for the title of this chapter: "Food in the officers´¿ mess excellent."
There are a number of photographs throughout the book, which were taken in spite of it being forbidden.
For those of us born after 1945, there is an impenetrable membrane between us and a proper sense of these important recent events. (If you visit Auschwitz/Birkenau you may be struck by how modern everything looks. It was not that long ago.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
"The Good Old Days" is a haunting and disturbing glimpse into the Holocaust. This book chronicles a number of events associated with the Nazi attempts to exterminate the entire Jewish people from the globe. Certainly any story of the Holocaust is disturbing to a rational person but "The Good Old Days" presents these events through the words/tales of people who were there - soldiers, killers, non-Jewish citizenry. Most of the events described are related through several people (making the reading a bit tedious) and in all cases the stories, while slightly different in detail - and almost always apologetic when told after the passage of time - would make my stomach wrench at how indifferently the waste of human life was taken. This is especially true in cases where stories are supported by diaries written at the time of the events. It is a oft used generalization that the Germans are a people of exactness and precision. This has never been more true than in assiocation with the Holocaust. The SS and its minions went about their gruesome business with the efficiency stereotypically expected of the Germans - they kept exacting notes, approached it impassively as to not become emotionally attached to the situation (or they were removed from the situation - generally voluntarily, or so it is claimed), and strove to generate more efficient, quick and "humane" ways to dispose of those felt inferior. The passages in this book are presented without any candy coating and thus this text is not for the faint of heart. Yet in doing so the reader is truly left with a feeling of collective human guilt that any culture could perpetrate such acts and in such a detacted fashion. Read more ›
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5.0 out of 5 stars Very Powerful April 13 2002
This book really makes one shiver. I have read a number of books on the holocaust and World War 2 and this book absolute is the rawest of the books covering the genocide. That is not to say the book had a blow by blow account of the methods of killing, but just the history of this group of solders and the off handed way the mass killing was described. The people doing this killing were just normal guys, not unlike friends, family or myself. Wow, it is just amazing to me the way they try to justify what they were in charge of, the crimes against humanity that they committed. That is what was so disturbing to me. It is much easier to think that the mass killing was done by some group of homicidal maniacs let out of the asylum and given guns that that is not the case.
The details you get here are very hard to take once you have finished the book and think about it. This is one of the few books that for weeks after I finished it I would continue to think about it I do not think I can recommend this book enough; it really gives you a feel for the tremendous crime that took place. You will not be able to stop reading the book until you have completed it. I could go on and on. Even if you are not overly interested in WW 2 or the Holocaust you should read this book, there is no way you will not be griped by it.
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