We Wept Without Tears

Testimonies of the Jewish Sonderkommando from Auschwitz
Greif, Gideon
Date published: 
July 2005

The Sonderkommandos of Auschwitz-Birkenau consisted primarily of Jewish prisoners forced by the Germans to facilitate the mass extermination. Though never involved in the killing itself, they were compelled to be the “members of staff” of the Nazi death-factory.

This book, translated for the first time into English from its original Hebrew, consists of interviews with the very few surviving Sonderkommandos, men who witnessed at first hand the unparalleled horror of the Auschwitz-Birkenau death camp. Some of these men had never spoken of their experiences before.

Over a period of years, Gideon Greif interviewed intensively all Sonderkommando survivors living in Israel. They describe not only the specific technical details of the German-Nazi killing programme but also the moral and human challenges they faced while fulfilling their appalling work. The book provides direct testimony about the “Final Solution of the Jewish Problem”, but it is also a unique document on the boundless cruelty and deceit practised by the Germans on their victims. It documents the helplessness and powerlessness of the one-and-a-half million people, 90 percent of them Jews, who were brutally murdered in the gas chambers of Auschwitz-Birkenau.

“This is a book that must be read by all who dare draw close to the killing, those who dare to come close - as close as non-survivors can come - to the inferno.” Michael Berenbaum

Gideon Greif is a researcher at Yad VaShem, Israel, the principal institution in the world studying the history of the Holocaust. He also was visiting professor at the Sue and Leonard Miller Center for Contemporary Judaic Studies at the University of Miami.

Copublished with the University of Miami