Images of War: Nazi Concentration Camp Overseers written by Ian Baxter and published by Pen & Sword Book – £14.99 – Softcover – Pages 114
The Nazis’ vast concentration camp network and, later, the ‘Final Solution’ programme made heavy demands on the SS whose responsibility it was. The use of ‘overseers’ minimised costs and enabled the camps to run with fewer SS personnel. As this well researched book describes, there were three principal groups of ‘helpers’: Sonderkommandos, Kapos and Trawniki.
The graphic images and text of this Images of War series work demonstrate that the ‘overseer’ system was extensive and effective as its members competed without scruple to maintain the favour of their SS masters while pitting victim against victim.
Now I have read a number of these books and everyone has been first class, they should in my opinion be more well known and this book is just the same, with a slight difference. The difference in this book is that it feels like it’s more concentrated on one particular subject rather than a broad sweep trying to include everything. This book has concentrated on what were classed as ‘overseers’, or more honestly volunteers. That’s right it appears you had soldiers that would have to do this job as in working in a concentration camp, no you would have those that weren’t soldiers volunteering to do the jobs in a concentration camp.
These ‘volunteers’ were split into groups and then each group were given a number of jobs to be in charge of ranging from moving people around to be killed, being in charge of the ovens, organising transport in and out, being guards, selecting victims or organising forced labour projects. There wasn’t really anything light, it was all rather grim stuff some people were more than happy to do. I found this fascinating mainly because it’s hard to imagine what people will do, it was interesting to learn more about other camps rather than the main few that sadly make the headlines like Auschwitz and Belsen. I would really recommend this book although very sad, and I found it very interesting, certainly one I would recommend.