Only four men commanded Nazi extermination (as opposed to concentration) camps. Franz Stangl was one of the. Gitta Sereny’s investigation of this man’s mind. Based on 70 hours of interviews with Franz Stangl, commandant of Treblinka (the largest of the five Nazi extermination camps), this book bares the soul. Gitta Sereny, CBE (13 March – 14 June ) was an Austrian-British biographer, Into That Darkness (also following an initial article for the Telegraph.

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In any other period in time ,it’s clear to me that Franz Stangl would have been a very average individual and quite unremarkable. A quote from a review by Elie Wiesel on the rear cover perfectly sums it up – “Most often one is sick to one’s soul.

For beneath the Austrian courtesies Franz Stangl suffers from a wir haben’s nicht gewusst type of selective amnesia, until he dies of heart failure a few days after Sereny gifta her farewell. The last day, he finally broke down for a few seconds and allowed himself, as Sereny put it, “to become the man he could have been.

Could he have gotten transferred to another program? Still, with only a few graphic examples, images are seared into my brain that I will never forget.

Of course, there’s some truth in this notion, the most tragically extreme exoneration of the old adage that every cloud has a silver lining, but it was perhaps the voicing of this idea as a kind of fabric softener which brought home how easily thwt husband and wife were able to take shelter in insensitivity.

He decided his best career would be the police. It is the biography of Franz Stangl, an intelligent family man and gifted administrator who became the Commandant of Treblinka. When bigotry and scapegoating take hold and the moral veneer of society is chipped away evil takes over.

So many of his interviewees accepted no guilt at all, they denied and denied and clung to ‘just following orders’ and ‘what could I have done? He said simply that the Nazis wanted the victims’ money. Stangl was also involved in the Euthanasia project and at Sobibor, another of the extermination camps.

Retrieved 28 September She was born in Vienna, the daughter of a beautiful Austrian actress, whom she later described as “without moral opin Gitta Sereny was a journalist, biographer and historian. He saw himself a minor functionary, just obeying orders and doing his best. From the mid-sixties and throughout the s she wrote extensively for The Daily Telegraph Magazine under the editorship of John Anstey. So this is at once an examination of how children become violent, how society the judicial system, the public, the press reacts to such extreme cases, and how a human being grows up with the notion that they are evil.


He was handpicked to work in the Tiergartenstrasse 4 division. Gitta attributed her fascination with evil to her own experiences of Nazism as a child of central Europe in the early 20th century.

Gitta Sereny led us through our own darkness | Giles Fraser | Opinion | The Guardian

So that was when she began looking evil in the face. His Battle with Truth. Really fascinating and upsetting. In he was assigned to the T-4 Euthanasia program where the Nazi’s were systematically killing the mentally and physically handicapped. The sociologist Gillian Rose once challenged those who represent the Holocaust to do so in a way that doesn’t just lead to an identification with the victims, but in a way that also leads to the deeply uncomfortable identification with the perpetrators.

Even though I understood, somewhere under the surface, that “extermination” camps and “concentration” camps were different, the starkness of that contrast is made horribly clear in this book.

Stangl considered the people he tyat killing to be “cargo” – so much baggage to be processed through the system. And those who became determined to escape and to spread the truth. After a period of reflection – where Stangl left the interview room and went back to his cell – he returned and agreed to her terms. And no one was going to thank her for that. When the Germans arrived he was on a Gestapo hitlist for his part in the arrest of an influential Austrian Nazi.

This is her classic account of the Commandant of the death camp Treblinka, Franz Stangl, who oversaw darkneess a million deaths. Dark forces can seize control and can become institutionalized to the degree where a normal human being can feel the utter futility of standing up to what appear to be insurmountable odds, so one resigns oneself to becoming a bureaucrat in service to unimaginable evil and destructiveness.

Today, our reaction to evil is either a gitta tabloid fury or a post-modern discomfort with the idea of judgement itself.

Into That Darkness by Gitta Sereny | : Books

Another theme throughout the book is the Vatican’s part in the holocaust. For example, Stangl was a policeman in Austria at the time of the German Anschluss and varkness up through the police ranks after the German annexation.

This book is based on a series of interviews carried out by Gitta Sereny with Franz Stangl who was the Kommandant of Treblinka one of the most notorious death camps of which there were only a handful of survivors. And that is a huge accomplishment, because it isn’t easy to understand what motivated a man like Stangl, what kept him loyal to and even proud of his “work,” and how he and his family lived with the knowledge of what he was part of.


View all 14 comments. Feb 19, Blakely rated it it was amazing Shelves: Evil is not done by other people. The Case of Mary Bell. Oct 26, Paul Bryant rated it it was amazing Shelves: Based on 70 hours of interviews with Franz Stangl, commandant of Treblinka the largest of the extermination campsthis book bares the soul of a man who continually found ways to rationalize his role in Hitler’s final soulution.

And we have seen in the statements of individuals concerned, such as Stangl and his wife, how much the tacit approval of the Church contributed to the pacification of their conscience. A mild mannered eye surgeon and his sophisticated British wife with Princess Diana aspirations become under stress a mass murderer and his supportive female consort. The facts about what the Nazis did, all of which can be obtained elsewhere, are not what makes reading this book so essential, nor is it some kind of horrific fascination in learning of the psychological profile of a man who oversaw the deaths of somewhere betweenand 1, almost exclusively Jewish people chilling when you think the estimated death toll – horrific whichever number is correct – might be out by nearly half a million!

It is always a difficult, asymmetrical relationship, particularly in this case, as Stangl’s secrets are so morally and spiritually destructive of his sense of self. He tries to avoid culpability for the actual deaths insisting that his job of running the camps was purely administrative or that he was mainly responsible for security.

Into That Darkness: An Examination of Conscience

When she was thirteen, her train journey to a boarding school in the United Kingdom was delayed in Nuremberg where she attended one of the annual Nuremberg rallies.

View all 5 comments. Sereny manages to be both our guide and an appropriately impartial observer of the events described and is open itno descr This is one of the most incredible Holocaust books I have come across to date. Threads thxt expanded unthreaded.

The framework of what was to be her life’s work — the exploration of childhood trauma and the nature of evil — was in place. Paperbackpages.