Rudolph Hoess was the SS Commandant over the concentration camp at Auschwitz during World War II. Under his direction well over a million would die (Eichmann claimed 2.5 million!). These were not primarily enemy combatants but civilians – men, women, and children (primarily Jews).
Hoess wrote about his time at Auschwitz, not only what he did but how he thought and felt. This particular edition entitled The Commandant has been edited by Jurg Amann for length and clarity. It is a small volume of only 111 pages.
I found it highly disturbing, anxiety inducing, stomach churning – in other words, just what is needed. It is a prophylactic against future genocides, may God save us. It is an inducement to action in the present against ongoing genocides, God help us.
“But I must admit openly that the gassings had a calming effect on me…Up to this point it was not clear to me, nor to Eichmann, how the killing of the expected masses was to be done. Perhaps by gas? But how, and what kind of gas….Now I was at ease.”
– Rudolph Hoess, pg. 70.
Let me digress for a moment and speak as an American Christian. I suspect that someday when God reveals to us the true nature of the good and evil which we have done in our lives we will find that our apathy stands far above and beyond so many of the sins we endeavor so faithfully to avoid today.
Further, I suspect that our myopic dedication to these rote sins is an endeavor to distract our consciences from the true nature of our own selfishness.
Lord, save me from my apathy. From my righteous indignation over the sins of others that I use to assuage my burning conscience.
Today I went to an Estate Sale in Mendham, NJ. The house was set back from the street, which was a sometimes one-lane road in the middle of the countryside. It was quite beautiful…and the most beautiful part where the thousands of books lining its walls.
The former resident of the house was obviously a lover of classic/contemporary literature, arts, history, and biography. I spent a solid two hours searching the shelves and finally exited with nineteen.
I know, that is a lot of books – but when there are several hundred you want to buy and you leave with less than two dozen, one feels a certain sense of accomplishment.
So here is my haul…Perhaps it will make a fun reading list for someone who shares my interests.
Why I Chose What I Chose
Feel free to jump down to the list itself, but for those who care (anyone?) I’d like to share the reasoning behind my choices.
I focused primarily on historical and biographical books because:
I don’t read much contemporary fiction.
When I read classical fiction I usually use an e-text and turn it into an e-book.
I consider myself too much a beginner in the arts to be able to understand much of what is said in these fields and would rather focus on learning more of the basics.
I chose almost exclusively books that the former owner had read in their entirety (which was obvious by the hand-written notes, underlines, and bookmarks sprinkled throughout).
My primary interests in reading are to (a) understand God and (b) understand humanity. The library was sparse in the former, so I focused on the latter.
Most of these books are historical or biographical, but the way in which I read them remains constant with my primary interests:
Who is God? How do we relate to Him?
Who is Man and Woman? How do we relate to each other?
Again, occurring soon after the Revolutionary War in America, the question arises, how was this different from our initial revolution? This book even more than the last, since it directly involves some of the best-known personages of the Revolutionary War now crushing a rebellion.
Apparently “controversial and provocative” this work looks at a number of intellectuals in history including Rousseau, Shelley, Marx, Ibsen, Tolstoy, Hemingway, Brecht, Russell, Sartre, Wilson, Gollancz, and Hellman.
I enjoyed Reston’s Warriors of God in spite of some concerns about it subjective interpretations in select parts. I expect to enjoy this one as well, but will also be watching for when things a little too much to the interpretative side.1When we record history, we interpret it. We are not objective observers. With humility we acknowledge this and attempt to be self-reflective as we write…but sometimes the reader discovers the author has in fact (or just seems to) slipped into various biases which color the facts unnecessarily.
I’m always looking for books that provide me with a starting place, a place to jump off from. This seems like one of those books. There are so many historical volumes – which should I choose? Hoping this volume will give me some direction.
Usually I’m not a huge fan of volumes that cover such an extraordinary sweep of time but the former owner showed great interest in this volume (according to the bookmarks), so I figured I’d give it a try.
Vyrso is part of Faithlife, formerly known as Logos Bible Software. It provides e-books focused on general rather than professional/academic audiences. I occasionally browse the site to see if there are any deals worth taking advantage of and I found a few this time around I thought I’d share with you:
I don’t know anything about Underwood, but this line from Vyrso caught my eye, “A long-time pastor ponders why the Jesus Movement stopped moving …” This parallels my more general interest in what exactly happened to the hippies…
I love these books that provide multiple views on a subject. Some really great authors attached to this particular volume. A number of other volumes are on sale in this series for a similar price, this is the one that most interested me.