Most people who have some knowledge about the Holocaust are familiar with the existence of Auschwitz a network of German Nazi concentration camps and extermination camps built and operated by the Third Reich in Polish areas annexed by Nazi Germany during World War II. Over one million people, mostly Jews, were murdered there. The average person assumes that Auschwitz was the oldest and most notorious killing center. Timothy Snyder in his book BLACK EARTH makes the reader aware of the fact that during the Holocaust most of the Jews were shot before Auschwitz began systematically gassing Jews. The Jews were murdered over pits by the German invaders of Poland in 1939, as well as by Ukrainian collaborators. Thousands of locals witnessed those massacres as narrated in THE HOLOCAUST BY BULLETS by Father Patric Desbois. It is imperative for contemporary and future generations to be informed about every aspect of WW II and be able to refute Holocaust deniers.
To me, as a victim of the Holocaust, most episodes in the book are reminiscent of my own observations and personal travails. I saw people collapsing and dying from hunger. I saw Germans looting, expropriating, beating, torturing, shooting and hanging. Being exposed, for over five years, to such inexorable pattern of cruelty, I still carry physical and mental scars of the Holocaust. I feel the Holocaust through the marrow of my bones. I may wear today nice suits; I cannot forget the striped uniforms I had to wear in concentration camp. The travails during my adolescence shaped my life (recorded in my autobiography From a Name to a Number.)
BLACK EARTH, is very well written and brilliantly authoritative. It quickly engrosses the reader into a sad chronology of horrific events under the yokes of Stalin and Hitler, tyrants of the 20th century. It is supplementing Bloodlands. BLACK EARTH is a tour de force for anybody interested in history.