Sonderkommando by Shlomo Venezia
2007, Editions Albin Michel
(Inside the Gas Chambers)
This memoir by Shlomo Venezia is the only existing full account of a death commando survivor from Auschwitz-Birkenau. Members of the death commandos had to lead victims into the gas chambers and burn the bodies afterwards, only to be put to death themselves a few months later in order to keep their horrendous tasks secret. For this reason, they could never leave their part of the camp or associate with other prisoners.
Shlomo Venezia was one of the few death commando prisoners to survive and write about his experience. After the war, he married and had a family, but could never enjoy life as a normal person or forget what he'd seen.
I've asked myself, why do I continue to read books like this? Why did I buy this book when I know the general subject and have already read many books about it? I thought about it and came to this conclusion: I continue to read, especially memoirs, because if someone like Shlomo Venezia lived through this horrible experience, and wrote about it, then the least I can do is read it and remember. I want to honor his memory. It's personal.
In this 2005 interview about her novel Beloved, Toni Morrison explains how she was able to write about the painful subject of slavery, saying "If they could do it, I can write it." (2:03 - 3:00)