The Order of Terror: The Concentration Camp by Wolfgang SofskyThe Order of Terror: The Concentration Camp by Wolfgang Sofsky

The Order of Terror: The Concentration Camp

byWolfgang Sofsky

Paperback | June 6, 1999

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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Based on historical documents and the reports of survivors, the book details how the resistance of prisoners was broken down.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.

Wolfgang Sofsky is an Associate Professor of Sociology at the University of Göttingen. The Order of Terror was awarded the prestigious 1993 Geschwister-Scholl Prize. The book has also been published in France and Italy. Sofsky is the author of four other books in German about power, organization, and the anthropology of violence. Will...
Title:The Order of Terror: The Concentration CampFormat:PaperbackDimensions:368 pages, 9.25 × 6 × 0.79 inPublished:June 6, 1999Publisher:Princeton University PressLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0691006857

ISBN - 13:9780691006857

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Rated 5 out of 5 by from The Order of Terror Quite an informative book. A must read for anyone who wants to learn more about the Holocaust.
Date published: 2014-06-15

Table of Contents

List of Tables and Figures


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

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