UCSB History 133Q
February 3, 2004
These questions were written as an assignment for Prof. Marcuse's Hist 133q seminar
("Readings in Holocaust History"), Winter quarter 2004 (course
homepage). It is posted here as an example of the kind of questions that go
beyond factual issues and provide good starting points for discussion and research
"Eyewitness Auschwitz" by Filip Müller (1979)
- What accounts for the inaccuracies in the memoir? How does this affect the
way the book is read? Can it still be seen as credible?
- What was the role of the Red Cross in the killings at Auschwitz? Were they
punished for they punished for their involvement or "passive collaboration"
after the war?
- In several instances Müller mentioned pious individuals in the camp?
How were they able to remain faithful to God in such a time of despair? How
did they use religion and God to comfort them?
- Why did many of the Jews continue to accept the Nazis’ lies after they were
proven wrong again and again? How strong a role does the will to survive play
- Müller mentions several times that he was able to smoke cigarettes
and that to survive he often "organized" the dead victims’
belongings. How much freedom did the Sonderkommando have?
- When describing camp and crematorium Müller often uses specific measurements
and details. Was he actually able to remember these details from his time
in the camp or did he learn about them later? How did other people’s accounts,
stories, and information affect his own memory?
- Why did the SS men feel so much more guilty killing the Gypsies when they
seemed to have no remorse for the Jews? Psychologically, how were they affected
by the brutal killings and punishments they were inflicting on the Jews?
- The inmates had to resort to animal instincts and sub-human and selfish
behavior to survive. How did this behavior affect Muller and other people
who survived the war? Did they feel guilty for surviving and for their brutal
manner in the camps?
- In what way did Muller and the Sonderkommando become numbed to the
corpses and death? How did this help them to survive?
- Why did the people in the family camp refuse to believe the Sonderkommando
when they were told they would be killed? What were the different dynamics
and groups within the camp and what effect did they have on people’s trust
and interaction with each other?
author: Rachel Binning, prepared for web by H. Marcuse, 2/5/04
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