Into That Darkness

By Gitta Sereny,

Book cover of Into That Darkness: An Examination of Conscience

Book description

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 of a man who continually found ways to rationalize his role in Hitler's final solution.

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Why read it?

3 authors picked Into That Darkness as one of their favorite books. Why do they recommend it?

How can a human being organize an extermination camp and oversee the industrial murder of hundreds of thousands of innocent people?

This book is based on journalist Gitta Sereny's conversations with Franz Stangl, the commandant of the Treblinka extermination camp, during his trial in Germany in 1971. It sheds light on how a perpetrator tried to deny his complicity by retreating into a purely functional professional role—a denial that ultimately failed.

At his last meeting with Sereny, Stangl still maintained that he never intended to hurt anyone, though for the first time, he admitted that there was guilt on his…

From Herlinde's list on Nazi perpetrators.

At the heart of this book are seventy hours of interviews that the journalist Gitta Sereny conducted with the notorious commandant of the extermination camps Sobibor and Treblinka, Franz Stangl. He was then serving a life prison sentence for having overseen the murder of more than 900,000 people, most of them Jews.

By presenting Stangl’s answers to her questions, generally in his own words, Sereny confronts us with Stangl’s point of view, his own bewildered account of what he had done. Her critical empathy for this Nazi perpetrator enables Sereny to show how Stangl came to play a central role…

If I were asked to recommend one book on Nazi crimes, this would be it. Gitta Sereny was an Austro-British journalist who wrote history with a flair most historians can only dream of. Into that Darkness epitomizes her method of story-telling: to locate the principal actors in a historical episode and allow them to speak in their own voice. At the center is Franz Stangl, former commandant of the Treblinka and Sobibor death camps. Sereny conducted interviews with him in his jail cell, as well as with other perpetrators, death camp survivors, and witnesses.  

Sereny is too sophisticated to take…

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