The Order of Terror: The Concentration Camp

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The Order of Terror: The Concentration Camp

by Wolfgang Sofsky
Translated by William Templer

Princeton University Press | June 6, 1999 | Trade Paperback

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During the twelve years from 1933 until 1945, the concentration camp operated as a terror society. In this pioneering book, the renowned German sociologist Wolfgang Sofsky looks at the concentration camp from the inside as a laboratory of cruelty and a system of absolute power built on extreme violence, starvation, "terror labor," and the business-like extermination of human beings.

Based on historical documents and the reports of survivors, the book details how the resistance of prisoners was broken down. Arbitrary terror and routine violence destroyed personal identity and social solidarity, disrupted the very ideas of time and space, perverted human work into torture, and unleashed innumerable atrocities. As a result, daily life was reduced to a permanent struggle for survival, even as the meaning of self-preservation was extinguished. Sofsky takes us from the searing, unforgettable image of the Muselmann--Auschwitz jargon for the "walking dead"--to chronicles of epidemics, terror punishments, selections, and torture.

The society of the camp was dominated by the S.S. and a system of graduated and forced collaboration which turned selected victims into accomplices of terror. Sofsky shows that the S.S. was not a rigid bureaucracy, but a system with ample room for autonomy. The S.S. demanded individual initiative of its members. Consequently, although they were not required to torment or murder prisoners, officers and guards often exploited their freedom to do so--in passing or on a whim, with cause, or without.

The order of terror described by Sofsky culminated in the organized murder of millions of European Jews and Gypsies in the death-factories of Auschwitz and Treblinka. By the end of this book, Sofsky shows that the German concentration camp system cannot be seen as a temporary lapse into barbarism. Instead, it must be conceived as a product of modern civilization, where institutionalized, state-run human cruelty became possible with or without the mobilizing feelings of hatred.

Format: Trade Paperback

Dimensions: 368 pages, 9 × 6 × 0.79 in

Published: June 6, 1999

Publisher: Princeton University Press

Language: English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10: 0691006857

ISBN - 13: 9780691006857

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– More About This Product –

The Order of Terror: The Concentration Camp

by Wolfgang Sofsky
Translated by William Templer

Format: Trade Paperback

Dimensions: 368 pages, 9 × 6 × 0.79 in

Published: June 6, 1999

Publisher: Princeton University Press

Language: English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10: 0691006857

ISBN - 13: 9780691006857

About the Book

During the twelve years from 1933 until 1945, the concentration camp operated as a terror society. In this pioneering book, the renowned German sociologist Wolfgang Sofsky looks at the concentration camp from the inside as a laboratory of cruelty and a system of absolute power built on extreme violence, starvation, "terror labor," and the business-like extermination of human beings.

Based on historical documents and the reports of survivors, the book details how the resistance of prisoners was broken down. Arbitrary terror and routine violence destroyed personal identity and social solidarity, disrupted the very ideas of time and space, perverted human work into torture, and unleashed innumerable atrocities. As a result, daily life was reduced to a permanent struggle for survival, even as the meaning of self-preservation was extinguished. Sofsky takes us from the searing, unforgettable image of the Muselmann--Auschwitz jargon for the "walking dead"--to chronicles of epidemics, terror punishments, selections, and torture.

The society of the camp was dominated by the S.S. and a system of graduated and forced collaboration which turned selected victims into accomplices of terror. Sofsky shows that the S.S. was not a rigid bureaucracy, but a system with ample room for autonomy. The S.S. demanded individual initiative of its members. Consequently, although they were not required to torment or murder prisoners, officers and guards often exploited their freedom to do so--in passing or on a whim, with cause, or without.

The order of terror described by Sofsky culminated in the organized murder of millions of European Jews and Gypsies in the death-factories of Auschwitz and Treblinka. Bythe end of this book, Sofsky shows that the German concentration camp system cannot be seen as a temporary lapse into barbarism. Instead, it must be conceived as a product of modern civilization, where institutionalized, state-run human cruelty became possible with or without the mobilizing feelings of hatred.

Table of Contents

List of Tables and Figures
Acknowledgments
Pt. I Introduction 1
1 Entry 3
2 Absolute Power 16
3 On the History of the Concentration Camps 28
Pt. II Space and Time 45
4 Zones and Camp Plans 47
5 Boundary and Gate 55
6 The Block 65
7 Camp Time 73
8 Prisoner''s Time 82
Pt. III Social Structures 95
9 The SS Personnel 97
10 Classes and Classifications 117
11 Self-Management and the Gradation of Power 130
12 The Aristocracy 145
13 Mass, Exchange, Dissociation 153
Pt. IV Work 165
14 Work and Slavery 167
15 The Beneficiaries 173
16 Work Situations 185
Pt. V Violence and Death 197
17 The Muselmann 199
18 Epidemics 206
19 Terror Punishment 214
20 Violent Excesses 223
21 Selection 241
22 The Death Factory 259
Epilogue 276
Selected Glossary and Abbreviations 283
Abbreviations Used in Notes and Bibliography 289
Notes 291
Bibliography 343

From the Publisher

During the twelve years from 1933 until 1945, the concentration camp operated as a terror society. In this pioneering book, the renowned German sociologist Wolfgang Sofsky looks at the concentration camp from the inside as a laboratory of cruelty and a system of absolute power built on extreme violence, starvation, "terror labor," and the business-like extermination of human beings.

Based on historical documents and the reports of survivors, the book details how the resistance of prisoners was broken down. Arbitrary terror and routine violence destroyed personal identity and social solidarity, disrupted the very ideas of time and space, perverted human work into torture, and unleashed innumerable atrocities. As a result, daily life was reduced to a permanent struggle for survival, even as the meaning of self-preservation was extinguished. Sofsky takes us from the searing, unforgettable image of the Muselmann--Auschwitz jargon for the "walking dead"--to chronicles of epidemics, terror punishments, selections, and torture.

The society of the camp was dominated by the S.S. and a system of graduated and forced collaboration which turned selected victims into accomplices of terror. Sofsky shows that the S.S. was not a rigid bureaucracy, but a system with ample room for autonomy. The S.S. demanded individual initiative of its members. Consequently, although they were not required to torment or murder prisoners, officers and guards often exploited their freedom to do so--in passing or on a whim, with cause, or without.

The order of terror described by Sofsky culminated in the organized murder of millions of European Jews and Gypsies in the death-factories of Auschwitz and Treblinka. By the end of this book, Sofsky shows that the German concentration camp system cannot be seen as a temporary lapse into barbarism. Instead, it must be conceived as a product of modern civilization, where institutionalized, state-run human cruelty became possible with or without the mobilizing feelings of hatred.

From the Jacket

"Wolfgang Sofsky dares the near impossible: he gives us a rational description of the concentration camp without losing sight of the human suffering, which the use of terror brought with it. . . . Sofsky exposes the potential of immorality that modern times carries within itself, and how the ordinary can transform itself into terror."--Ralf Dahrendorf

Editorial Reviews

"What [Sofsky] has achieved will take your breath away.... He has written a book that will fundamentally enrich our knowledge of human nature, the organization of power, and the execution of terror."--Der Spiegel
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