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I Escaped from Auschwitz

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The author describes his experiences as a prisoner in Auschwitz and his daring escape.


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The author describes his experiences as a prisoner in Auschwitz and his daring escape.

30 review for I Escaped from Auschwitz

  1. 4 out of 5

    Marilyn

    I Escaped from Auschwitz: The Shocking Story of the World War II Hero who Escaped the Nazis and Helped Save Over 200,000 Jews was the autobiography of Rudolf Vrba. I listened to the audiobook on Overdrive that was read by Steven Jay Cohen. Rudolph Vrba survived Auschwitz and wrote this harrowing and deeply personal account of his life that showed him as a young boy who grew up in Czechoslovakia, now Slovakia, with his mother, his unsuccessful journey he took to try and escape the fate of being t I Escaped from Auschwitz: The Shocking Story of the World War II Hero who Escaped the Nazis and Helped Save Over 200,000 Jews was the autobiography of Rudolf Vrba. I listened to the audiobook on Overdrive that was read by Steven Jay Cohen. Rudolph Vrba survived Auschwitz and wrote this harrowing and deeply personal account of his life that showed him as a young boy who grew up in Czechoslovakia, now Slovakia, with his mother, his unsuccessful journey he took to try and escape the fate of being transported to a work camp and ultimately his arrival at Auschwitz. It was so hard to listen to many parts. Vrba sparred no details of the brutalities he witnessed, his outrage, and the many atrocities the Nazi SS carried out. Vrba arrived at Auschwitz when he was 17 years old in April 1942 and remained there until June 1944 when he successfully escaped. From early on, Vrba was determined to survive. If luck was at all possible at a place like Auschwitz, luck was on Vrba’s side in his work assignments and friends he met. Vrba always showed courage and determination. When Rudolph Vrba and Alfred Wetzler, two Slovak prisoners at Auschwitz, miraculously escaped from Auschwitz, they had one thing on their mind. Their goal was to alert Jewish leaders about what atrocities were taking place behind the barbed wire fences of Auschwitz and to save hundred of thousands Hungarian Jews from being deported only to face the act of being gassed to death. Vrba’s accounts were the first to reach world leaders like Churchill and Roosevelt and even the Pope. He was able to let the world know what was actually taking place at Auschwitz and put a stop to it. I Escaped from Auschwitz was a gut wrenching, emotional and honest account of one man’s survival and escape from the horrific atrocities of Auschwitz. Vrba showed such courage and bravery to get his message and accounts into the hands of people who were able to help stop the senseless murders of the Jewish people. The facts that Vrba included in his book were not easy to listen to or read but they were necessary to ensure that we never forget the 6 million that perished at the hands of the Nazis. I Escaped from Auschwitz was a very well written book that should be read. I highly recommend this book.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Tom

    I have read many books on the holocaust. If I had to recommend one, it would be this one for several reasons. 1) It is very well written. Not every holocaust survivor is an author, so some books are not very well written. This one is. 2) Vrba has been in Auschwitz for close to two years and has performed very different roles and tasks. He has lived in the main camp, and in Birkenau. He has been part of different commandos. So we get a very good view on many different parts of the camp. 3) Vrba has I have read many books on the holocaust. If I had to recommend one, it would be this one for several reasons. 1) It is very well written. Not every holocaust survivor is an author, so some books are not very well written. This one is. 2) Vrba has been in Auschwitz for close to two years and has performed very different roles and tasks. He has lived in the main camp, and in Birkenau. He has been part of different commandos. So we get a very good view on many different parts of the camp. 3) Vrba has escaped Auschwitz, which is very rare. So for that reason alone it's an interesting testimony. 4) The Vrba-Weltzer report is published in this book, along with some other interesting reads in the appendixes. 5) We get a clear view on the morbid role Jewish leaders, the Vaada and people like Kaszner have played. Instead of publishing and broadcasting the Vrba report to prevent hundreds of thousands of Hungarian Jews from being deported to Auschwitz, they found it necessary to try and cut a deal with Himmler to save people close to themselves. I would place this book next to Ludo Van Eck's "Het Boek der Kampen", though the latter is more factual and doesn't read like a novel.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Molly

    This book was an interesting and tantalizing read. As i went to Poland to visit Auschwitz half way through reading this book it painted me am impeccable image of what the living conditions and the over all life of a prisoner was like in a concentration camp. And gave another side of the catastrophe as he escaped. I could hardly put this book down and i think it is even more special that it was written by a man who had experienced first hand what the dreaded Auschwitz was really like.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Julianne Leary

    This is an amazing story, both for it's pure memoir qualities in telling the author's history, but also in the historical impact his escape could have had and eventually did have. The author's main goal, once away from the infamous death camp, was to make sure the world was made aware of what was happening in Poland, to ensure that the over 1 million potential victims in Hungary did not suffer the fate of the millions of innocents who had already perished. He and the friend he escaped with provi This is an amazing story, both for it's pure memoir qualities in telling the author's history, but also in the historical impact his escape could have had and eventually did have. The author's main goal, once away from the infamous death camp, was to make sure the world was made aware of what was happening in Poland, to ensure that the over 1 million potential victims in Hungary did not suffer the fate of the millions of innocents who had already perished. He and the friend he escaped with provided incredible amounts of factual, quantitative information of exactly what had already occurred. The fact that politician decided to *not* share this information with the Hungarian Jewish population in time only make the story more powerful. Well written, filled with both sincere emotion and objective observation, Rudolf Vrba's story is one that is a must read for anyone interested in the subject.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Hermien

    A must read for anyone interested in the Holocaust.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Ellie Midwood

    In his memoir, Rudolf Vrba recounts a horrific story of his incarceration and eventual escape from the extermination camp Auschwitz and the consequences his report had on the so-called Hungarian Aktion. It’s definitely not for the faint of the heart. Vrba conceals nothing when he talks about his own experiences and experiences his fellow inmates had to go through. Savage beatings, the brutality of the Kapos, rare sympathetic SS guards (one of which actually did help one of the inmates escape wit In his memoir, Rudolf Vrba recounts a horrific story of his incarceration and eventual escape from the extermination camp Auschwitz and the consequences his report had on the so-called Hungarian Aktion. It’s definitely not for the faint of the heart. Vrba conceals nothing when he talks about his own experiences and experiences his fellow inmates had to go through. Savage beatings, the brutality of the Kapos, rare sympathetic SS guards (one of which actually did help one of the inmates escape with his brave action), the comradery and the betrayals - it all comes alive before one’s eyes with the most gut-wrenching honesty. In the dog-eat-dog world of Auschwitz, a young boy was forced to grow into a man under the most savage conditions and I couldn’t help but applaud his integrity, bravery, and desire to save others from the fate that millions of the perished had already shared. Unlike many others, Vrba didn’t run just to get away; he ran with a sole objective - to prevent the Hungarian Jews from allowing themselves to be tricked into boarding the dreaded cattle trains and die in the Auschwitz gas chambers. Risking his own life and freedom, he made it to the Jewish leaders and presented them with a detailed report of what was going on behind the barbed wire cordon of the sinister extermination facility. You’ll have to read to find out what happened next; I’ll just say, this memoir is definitely a must-read for everyone, not only people interested in the history of the Holocaust. The inhumanity of people treating others as inferiors due to the color of their skin or nationality is very much alive and we have to educate ourselves to prevent history from repeating itself. Read this book. You won’t regret it.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Betsey Brannen

    Hmm. This is a difficult review to write. I gave this book 5 stars prior to reading anything else you can find out about Rudolf Vrba on the internet. Then after being awoken by my pneumonia infected husband at 5 a.m., I laid in bed thinking about what I had read and the account established within this memoir. I consider myself a bit of a Holocaust junkie, and this was different in that Vrba does not shy away from any of the atrocities committed at Auschwitz, Birkenau, or a host of other camps he Hmm. This is a difficult review to write. I gave this book 5 stars prior to reading anything else you can find out about Rudolf Vrba on the internet. Then after being awoken by my pneumonia infected husband at 5 a.m., I laid in bed thinking about what I had read and the account established within this memoir. I consider myself a bit of a Holocaust junkie, and this was different in that Vrba does not shy away from any of the atrocities committed at Auschwitz, Birkenau, or a host of other camps he writes about (not necessarily experienced but wrote via study). Then, I reopened the book and read through a few of the appendices in the back, one includes a detailed map of the gas chambers at Birkenau. This is when I got confused, so I turned back to the portion of the memoir that discusses Vrba's time on "the ramp" sorting clothing, hauling out dead bodies, and basically watching the procession of people directly to the gas chambers. He never once mentions going inside of the gas chambers to haul out bodies, and he obviously was never sent there himself. How could he have such a detailed version of what happened once they were inside. So, I'm leaning towards the belief that although I am positive Vrba experienced horrific atrocities across the number of places he visited, I do believe he relied on information provided after the war was over to embellish his story. Another interesting note (and again, maybe because I've read countless memoirs and non-fiction about the Holocaust, I'm scrutinizing more than I should). Vrba mentions Hess and Himmler multiple times, but only Josef Mengele once. I find this odd, as Mengele was ultimately responsible for the decision about who died and who lived. Then I read the internet posts (not that all are accurate) and found that Vrba is given a fairly scathing review not from only Holocaust studiers, but from other survivors as well. He comes under fire not only for his portrayal of the Hungarian Judenrat but for his memory as well. That all being said, I would still give this a 5 star rating, but with some hesitation and reminder that one's memory can always be a little cloudy.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Amber

    I have read a lot of stories about WO II, seen a lot of movies and visited Auschwitz myself. But this book let's you feel as if you are living there yourself. unbelievable heroic how Rudolf Vrba tells his story and saves so many lifes. Deffinately worth reading! I have read a lot of stories about WO II, seen a lot of movies and visited Auschwitz myself. But this book let's you feel as if you are living there yourself. unbelievable heroic how Rudolf Vrba tells his story and saves so many lifes. Deffinately worth reading!

  9. 4 out of 5

    David

    I bought this book from the bookstore at Auschwitz when we visited on a trip from Krakow. It really helped hammer home the enormous monstrosity that happened there.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Robert

    After visiting Auschwitz/Birkenau two weeks ago, this was the right moment to read this book. Unbelievable that this could happen. A must-read for everyone.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Julianne

    O my god. I'm absolutely baffled by this book. I've read so many ww2 books but there were so many things I never knew before described in this book. A true hero, Rudolf Vrba. O my god. I'm absolutely baffled by this book. I've read so many ww2 books but there were so many things I never knew before described in this book. A true hero, Rudolf Vrba.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Em

    This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. **************************************SPOILERS************************************************* "Arbeit Macht Frei" Work will make you free. As 17 year old Rudi Vrba got off a packed cattle car in Auschwitz-Birkenau. Rudi thought I can work hard then I will be free. Little did he know that he was entering one of the most horrific places on earth. This is Vrba's account of what he faced and lived through as a Jewish teen during WWII. This book brought me to tears, at some points I wanted to scream **************************************SPOILERS************************************************* "Arbeit Macht Frei" Work will make you free. As 17 year old Rudi Vrba got off a packed cattle car in Auschwitz-Birkenau. Rudi thought I can work hard then I will be free. Little did he know that he was entering one of the most horrific places on earth. This is Vrba's account of what he faced and lived through as a Jewish teen during WWII. This book brought me to tears, at some points I wanted to scream at the pain and horror that any person who faced Auschwitz. Vrba wrote through his 17 year old eyes. A boy who had to become a man. A Man who had to fight to survive. A man who wanted to save more from the horrific gas chambers at Auschwitz. Faced daily with the threat of dying. Rudi had to be strong and his will to survive beyond any means. In his struggle all he could think of was to escape and warn others. He calculated that if the perscuted Jews rose and faught that the senseless murders would stop. Risking his own life, Rudi and his friend Wetzler. A struggle to get to safety both Vrba and Wetzler gave the accounts and numbers of those being murdered in cold blood in Auschwitz-Birkenau. Within the book not only is there the account of Vrba's escape but the Vrba-Wetzler report with the diagrams of Auschwitz-Birkenau. It includes the tattoo'd numbers on the prisioners of Auschwitz-Birkenau and the Nations of which the Jews, Gypsi's, Russian POW, Ayrans and others captured by the Nazi's. Detailed numbers of the amount on the transports from each country. When they Vrba and Wetzler completed their report it was to be sent to Hungry in order to save the lives of the Jews scheduled to be transported to Auschwitz-Birkenau. There is a lot of controversy surrounding the distribution of the report. Hungrian Jewish leaders instead negotaited to save the lives of their famiy and close friends. Thank goodness the report still made it to Britian, America, The Vatican and other influential Allies. Thought approximately 400,000 Hungrian Jews were tortured and murdered in Auschwitz-Birkenau Thanks to Vrba and Wetzler the over a million scheduled to be transported to Auschwitz-Birkenau over 600,000 lives were spared and saved. There has been a lot of controversy over the facts and the amount of people actually killed at Auschwitz-Birkenau. Vrba had a job at Auschwitz-Birkenau which gave him the upper hand in seeing just how many people were senslessly murdered. Between Vrba's account and Hoess, one of the head SS officers at Auschwitz-Birkenau, the number both discussed was extremely similar. The Nazi's knew what they were doing was srong, they tried to hide the evidence by burning their victims then using the ashes as fertilizer. We will never know exactly how many were murdered. How many families were wiped off the face of the earth beause of hate and prejudice. An eloquently written account of the terrors of Auschwitz-Birkenau. The Courage to escape and to warn other intended victims. A must read for anyone who is a history buff, or interested in WWII. Sad, and amazing. You will need a box of tissues. One of the best accounts of surviving Auschwitz that I have read.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Paul

    Excellent first hand account. I was looking for a more historical text but came across thus book in the library. I'm really glad I did. It was well written and let me see an accurate portrayal of what life was like in a concentration camp. Compelling storytelling. Really very good. Throughout recommend this! Excellent first hand account. I was looking for a more historical text but came across thus book in the library. I'm really glad I did. It was well written and let me see an accurate portrayal of what life was like in a concentration camp. Compelling storytelling. Really very good. Throughout recommend this!

  14. 5 out of 5

    Libraryscat

    This is perhaps the most informative Holocaust narrative I have ever read.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Todd

    horrifying and enthralling

  16. 4 out of 5

    Claire

    Every1 should read this - unbelivable

  17. 5 out of 5

    Patrick Ellard

    Harrowing but incredible read.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Amanda

    Truly one of the best books I have ever read....full of history....and at the end of the book the reader is told what happened to each of the war criminals.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Hunter

    An extraordinary account of one man's survival at Auschwitz. The writing is ok, but the stories are among the most powerful and poignant I've ever read on the subject. An extraordinary account of one man's survival at Auschwitz. The writing is ok, but the stories are among the most powerful and poignant I've ever read on the subject.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Samantha

    A heart wrenching story of Rudy Vrba, a man who actually went into Auschwitz and managed to escape. I would recommend this book to everyone I know!!

  21. 4 out of 5

    Edwina Callan

    Riveting and heartbreaking.

  22. 5 out of 5

    Rick Elinson

    I heard of Elie Wiesel and I heard of Primo Levi, both survivors and writers about the Holocaust, but why had I never heard of Rudolf Vrba? Not only did Vrba survive two years in Auschwitz and not only was he one of only a handful of inmates to escape from there, but Vrba and fellow escapee Alfred Wetzler, wrote the first detailed report in April 1944 of the horrific, factory-slaughter of Jews and others, taking place at Auschwitz-Birkenau. Not only I had never heard of Vrba, but I was unaware o I heard of Elie Wiesel and I heard of Primo Levi, both survivors and writers about the Holocaust, but why had I never heard of Rudolf Vrba? Not only did Vrba survive two years in Auschwitz and not only was he one of only a handful of inmates to escape from there, but Vrba and fellow escapee Alfred Wetzler, wrote the first detailed report in April 1944 of the horrific, factory-slaughter of Jews and others, taking place at Auschwitz-Birkenau. Not only I had never heard of Vrba, but I was unaware of the incredible Vrba-Wetzler Report, also known as the Auschwitz Protocol, which included the detailed numbering system of the transported populations of prisoners and realistic estimates of the numbers murdered. This book is a brisk account of Vrba's imprisonment, his escape, and the writing of the report. This edition has several appendices, including the report itself, further published commentary by Vrba, and a historian's view of the report. Vrba, this book, and this edition deserve to be widely known.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Deborah Martin

    This must be read by all people I have read several holocaust books over the years. This book explains the how and why the Nazis were able to annihilate the Jews. This should be required reading in all schools. The courage of Vrba and Wexler to escape from Auschwitz then provide a detail report of the activities is super human. Then, the politics of the information in the works allows another 400,000 Jewish people to be gassed and cremated. This book stirs up anger and outrage. If nothing else, t This must be read by all people I have read several holocaust books over the years. This book explains the how and why the Nazis were able to annihilate the Jews. This should be required reading in all schools. The courage of Vrba and Wexler to escape from Auschwitz then provide a detail report of the activities is super human. Then, the politics of the information in the works allows another 400,000 Jewish people to be gassed and cremated. This book stirs up anger and outrage. If nothing else, this book should be read to use as a warning to the activities in the world today.

  24. 5 out of 5

    Rob

    This is a remarkable story that needs to be heard whenever the world seems to be going crazy. Rudy was the first man who escaped from Auschwitz and lived to tell the tale. Unfortunately many people didn't want to believe him, but his eye-witness accounts of "The Canada stores" brought America into the second world war. After the war he became a Neuroscientist and taught at the University of British Columbia. I met Rudy in the coffee shop of Regent College bookstore in 1996 just as I was starting This is a remarkable story that needs to be heard whenever the world seems to be going crazy. Rudy was the first man who escaped from Auschwitz and lived to tell the tale. Unfortunately many people didn't want to believe him, but his eye-witness accounts of "The Canada stores" brought America into the second world war. After the war he became a Neuroscientist and taught at the University of British Columbia. I met Rudy in the coffee shop of Regent College bookstore in 1996 just as I was starting my career in publishing. It was one of the first books I reprinted, and Rudy wrote a new preface, which I typeset and appended to the Regent College Publishing edition. My life has never been the same since that encounter. I think it is because, unlike in the movies, it taught me that life has no soundtrack to tell you who the villains are and who the hero are. You might just be having coffee one day and then it turns out that the guy you're having with actually charged the course of human history.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Jon

    While I was reading Rudolf Vrba's remarkable memoir of survival and escape from Auschwitz (with his friend Alfred Wetzler), modern day nazis polled well in Slovakia and Germany. Vrba's testament should be a warning to us all - not to tolerate a revival nazism. Vrba was only 19 when he was incarcerated; he lived to become a professor of pharmacology in Canada. He not only escaped but also attempted to raise the alarm for Hungary's one million Jews in 1944 - before they were deported. He escaped b While I was reading Rudolf Vrba's remarkable memoir of survival and escape from Auschwitz (with his friend Alfred Wetzler), modern day nazis polled well in Slovakia and Germany. Vrba's testament should be a warning to us all - not to tolerate a revival nazism. Vrba was only 19 when he was incarcerated; he lived to become a professor of pharmacology in Canada. He not only escaped but also attempted to raise the alarm for Hungary's one million Jews in 1944 - before they were deported. He escaped but his report was not circulated in time. Vrba argues that there was a deliberate "conspiracy of silence" which resulted in its suppression. If we are ever going to escape the legacy of Auschwitz, we should heed Vrba's warning: "I wrote this book with gratitude to all those who contributed to the defeat of Nazism. I only hope that I, too, have contributed to this end to the best of my knowledge and abilities, and that this book too will help to open the eyes of many to prevent the bestial forces, which we thought we had broken forever, from ever returning."

  26. 4 out of 5

    A.A. Abbott

    ALSO PUBLISHED AS "I CANNOT FORGIVE" - MEMORABLE, SCARY AND INSPIRATIONAL This book has also been published under the title "I Cannot Forgive." Teenager Rudolf Vrba has a bright future ahead of him - but then WW2 begins, and as a Slovak Jew, he finds himself in Auschwitz. Plunged into a desperate world of unimaginable horror, he resolves to survive, escape and tell the world about the Nazis' awful extermination programme. Against all the odds, he succeeds... A story like this would grip the reade ALSO PUBLISHED AS "I CANNOT FORGIVE" - MEMORABLE, SCARY AND INSPIRATIONAL This book has also been published under the title "I Cannot Forgive." Teenager Rudolf Vrba has a bright future ahead of him - but then WW2 begins, and as a Slovak Jew, he finds himself in Auschwitz. Plunged into a desperate world of unimaginable horror, he resolves to survive, escape and tell the world about the Nazis' awful extermination programme. Against all the odds, he succeeds... A story like this would grip the reader even if it were fiction, but amazingly, it is true. Scary, tear-jerking and inspirational. I read this book six years ago and will remember it for the rest of my life.

  27. 5 out of 5

    Jeff

    An excellent first person account of the horrors of the Holocaust and the will of the human spirit to survive and overcome incredible odds. The author does not sensationalise his story of capture and survival. The goal of his escape was to warn the world that the Hungarian Jews were going to be led to the slaughter at the extermination camps in Poland. A must read for historians and those interested in WWII, the Holocaust, and human rights.

  28. 5 out of 5

    R. Peter

    This is possibly the single greatest memoir -- certainly the most exciting -- of surviving Auschwitz. What distinguishes Vrba's book is that he successfully escaped the camp and gave a report on what was happening there. His report was eventually forwarded to British intelligence and convinced the Allies that the Holocaust was real. Vrba (and his co-escapee Fred Wetzler) are genuine 20th century heroes. I wish this book were read in high schools and colleges. It is that good. This is possibly the single greatest memoir -- certainly the most exciting -- of surviving Auschwitz. What distinguishes Vrba's book is that he successfully escaped the camp and gave a report on what was happening there. His report was eventually forwarded to British intelligence and convinced the Allies that the Holocaust was real. Vrba (and his co-escapee Fred Wetzler) are genuine 20th century heroes. I wish this book were read in high schools and colleges. It is that good.

  29. 4 out of 5

    Ronald J Schulz

    Alienated as a youth, I identified with this harrowing story of survival and almost impossible escape. In fact I used it as my inspiration for my own escape from Suburbia in 1967. Mine was admittedly less dramatic, no bloodhounds on my trail, although just in case I had his concoction ready to throw their noses off. Mr. Vrba helped me shape my political cynicism, mixed with a determination to struggle against the odds, no matter how many times my attempts were defeated.

  30. 5 out of 5

    Martijn Seegers

    True Story written by the man himself. This man managed to survive inside Auschwitz about 2 years. Normally people died in around 2 months. He decided to make notes and accounts and numbers of what he witnessed and experienced inside the camp, Then the man escaped. He brought all the information he had to his country, to warn the people, but they didn't believe him at first. One of the most valuable books I read. True Story written by the man himself. This man managed to survive inside Auschwitz about 2 years. Normally people died in around 2 months. He decided to make notes and accounts and numbers of what he witnessed and experienced inside the camp, Then the man escaped. He brought all the information he had to his country, to warn the people, but they didn't believe him at first. One of the most valuable books I read.

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