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Cold Crematorium

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I really enjoyed this book. It was different than anything else I've read recently. I couldn't put it down! I will keep an eye out for this author's future work!

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This was one of the most stunning and haunting first-person narratives of the Holocaust that I have ever read. Debreczeni skillfully wove masterful prose into observant journalism and created a masterpiece out of the wreckage of all that was done to him and millions of others. There were several quotes that were so poignant that I had to put the book down and really absorb the words. I sometimes feel that a work loses something in the translation into other languages, but this translation couldn't be better. The gruesome descriptions of daily life are so detailed that they paint a vivid picture. While it can be incredibly difficult to bear witness to the suffering of others, it's imperative that we do so, especially when anti-antisemitism is still running rampant and frequently unchecked.

"Freedom stirs even in silence; freedom whispers amid all the noise..."

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An incredibly detailed account of time in the Nazi death camps. Shockingly this hasn’t been translated into English until now. The author was a journalist, which can account for how straightforward his tone is in the book. Very matter of fact and the detail is incredible. This was not an easy read at all, which comes as no surprise. A very important book to add to the first hand accounts. Never forget.

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It is so sad to read the words of a man tortured, along with millions of others . By other men! How can any human treat another so horribly is just beyond my capacity to understand. Hitler and his minions were not just at war. They were the bringers of evil.
This book is well written, describing the conditions, the emotions, the monstrous behavior that occurred while this man was forced to stay in multiple prisoner of war camps. I could literally see in my mind as he described the conditions.
I do recommend this book. I would hope everyone would read it. History can and dos repeat itself and people should learn from that.
Thank you to the publisher and NetGalley for allowing me this ARC.

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The author of this book lives in spite of the horrid conditions of the Holocaust camps of death. It is a memoir of his life living in the camps. He shows the brutality and cruelty of life yet the desire to live is very strong. It is a compelling book to read. He lives through the inprisionment and slave labour in a series of camps, ending in the 'Cold Crematorium' - the so-called hospital of the forced labour camp Dornhau, where prisoners too weak to work were left to die. He watches his neighbors in this “hospital” die. Whe he is finally freed from this horror, he writes this book giving us a shocking and his perception of life in the camps. It is not to be forgotten as you read this. Even though I have read several books about the Holocaust, this one was different. It is a memoir that will haunt the reader.

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COLD CREMATORIUM: REPORTING FROM THE LAND OF AUSCHWITZ – BIOGRAPHY

Written by - József Debreczeni
Translated by - Paul Olchváry

‘József Debreczeni, a prolific Hungarian-language journalist and poet, arrived in Auschwitz in 1944; had he been selected to go “left,” his life expectancy would have been approximately forty-five minutes. One of the “lucky” ones, he was sent to the “right,” which led to twelve horrifying months of incarceration and slave labor in a series of camps, ending in the “Cold Crematorium” . . . .’

‘Come here, you visionaries who create with pen, chalk, stone, or paintbrush; all of you who’ve ever sought to conjure up the grimace of suffering and death; prophets of the danse macabre, engravers of terror, scribes of hells—come here!’

‘Night in Dörnhau.’

‘Six hundred men are pressed tightly up against each other. Every third person is dying.’

A Must Read—Highly Recommend!

Thank you, NetGalley and St. Martin’s Press, for providing me with an eBook of COLD CREMATORIUM at the request of an honest review.

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I read Cold Crematorium the same time as I was reading Night by Elie Wiesel, in our tenth grade English class. It is interesting how many things were the same, yet the experiences were different based on where the Jews were encamped. The atrocities that Jozsef went through, as well as millions of Jews, were just unimaginable. Mr. Debreczeni does a great job of writing in such a way that you can feel what the Jews were going through. Incidents like the louse, the crawling, the itching, just made my skin crawl just thinking about it. We are lucky that Mr. Debreczeni was able to survive and give us such an account. Thank you for sharing your story! Thanks to Mr. Debreczeni, NetGalley, and St. Martin’s Press, for the opportunity to read and review this book. All opinions are my own.

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My thanks to NetGalley as I was given a free copy for my honest opinion. This book was the first translated story as told by a German prisoner during World War II. The book is gripping and you find you can't stop turning the pages. We have all heard stories or read about the fate of the prisoners, but this book delves into more information about their everyday lives and what they did to maintain their courage, sanity and protect their lives. The book also describes the horrid living conditions.

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Of all the non fiction, memoirs, biographies, and other survivor books I've read, I've never come across such detail add I did here. Jòzsef Debreczeni somehow managed to survive! He starts at Auschwitz, but gets moved from one camp to another, to another, months after months, after months only to find the next one worse than the last one! Each camp had longer work hours, less foods, less sleep, only making them weaker day after day.

When he arrives at Dörnhau, the "cold crematorium", he's discovered is just to suffer to death. Many are dying day after day. There's body waste everywhere, lice, tuberculosis, typhus, and with three bodies sharing a bed at a time, all it does is spread and get worse. The place is so horrific and gruesome, the Nazi's refuse to stay, especially when they learn their own men are picking up the lice and diseases.

Amazing to survive through this to give such a detailed story to remind us this should have happened. This needs to keep being brought up to make sure somebody as evil as Hitler can never create such a place again.

Thank you Netgalley and St. Martin's Press for the arc.

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You can read my review at Shelf Awareness here: https://www.shelf-awareness.com/sar-issue.html?issue=1216#m23220

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“Above me, under me, all around me, this army of people ready to depart is crying out for God and water. Eyes turning glassy are soaking in the darkness of Hades or the foolish pinkness of heaven. Death is stepping between the bunks like a learned, confident young professor feeling quite at home.” -Cold Crematorium

"Cold Crematorium" by Jozsef Debreczeni is a truly heartbreaking account of survival amidst the darkest depths of human cruelty. Debreczeni's narrative not only unveils the horrors inflicted by the Nazis but also delves into the intricate dynamics of human behavior within the confines of the concentration camps.

One remarkable aspect of the book is its exploration of how prisoners navigated their relationships to survive. Unlike many other Holocaust narratives, Debreczeni's memoir delves into the complex interactions between inmates, revealing layers of resilience, strength, selflessness, and compassion amidst the direst circumstances.

Through Debreczeni's vivid prose, readers bear witness to the unfathomable diseases, the relentless torment of lice, and the lies that offered false hope to the prisoners, leaving an indelible mark on one's conscience.

Moreover, "Cold Crematorium" serves as a testament to the resilience of the human spirit, shedding light on the unwavering determination of individuals to endure and resist in the face of unimaginable adversity.

Debreczeni's unflinching portrayal of his experiences in three different camps underscores the necessity of confronting the brutal reality of the Holocaust. His account should indeed be required reading in schools, serving as a poignant reminder of the atrocities committed and the enduring strength of those who suffered through them. This masterpiece not only enriches Holocaust literature but also fosters a deeper understanding of the depths of human suffering and resilience.

My only question is… Why did it take so long for his account of these horrendous acts to be translated into other languages?

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January 27 was Holocaust Remembrance Day . I didn’t read a Holocaust book near that date as I had planned , but it’s so important to remember it on any day. Gruesome, graphic, gut wrenching, this memoir written in 1950 was just recently translated from Hungarian.

Jozsef Debreczeni escaped the furnaces for the work camps, slave camps to be exact. For those who did, there was no escaping the horrors of daily life - no water to wash, the stench, lice, dysentery, typhus, whippings, almost no food with “daily rations: bread and a spoonful of sour jam” if that, soup with almost nothing in it . The hierarchy and cruelty of the kapo system pitting Jews against Jews , a tool of the Nazis is depicted in ways I had not read about previously. If the description of these horrific conditions don’t impact you, nothing will.

Translated works can sometimes lose something , but it feels as if the reality of this experience comes through vividly. The descriptions of the brutal reality of this all are difficult to read , but I couldn’t put this aside because I have to bear witness. It’s imperative to do so it doesn’t happen again . The only way I can do justice to this is to say, you must read it.

I received a copy of this book from St. Martin’s Press through NetGalley.

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Gosh I am so glad that this memoir is available to the public. Cold Crematorium was so horrific and yet it's non-fiction. wonderfully written.

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József Debreczeni's memoir was first published in 1950 in Hungary and subsequently "lost", untranslated for a wider audience, until today. His depiction of his survival after his arrival at Auschwitz in 1944 is brutal, acerbic, and harrowing. He was a reporter in his previous life and the power of his words to capture the atrocities he witnessed and experienced are beyond powerful.

We think we know these stories. Cold Crematorium is different. It's an unsentimental perspective, richly describing the horrors. The deaths, the inhumanity, the forced slave labor, the disgusting conditions, the starvation, the pitting of the captured against each other. The Nazi cowardice.

It must have been a bold and brave move to publish this memoir in its time. My words can't do it justice. Cold Crematorium is an important contribution to the canon of Holocaust literature.

My thanks to NetGalley and St. Martin's Press for the ARC.

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<b><i>Cold Crematorium: Reporting from the Land of Auschwitz</i></b> is a chilling factual account by József Debreczeni of his lived experiences in Auschwitz during and after WW2. Originally published in Hungarian in 1950, this reformat and re-release in translation from Macmillan on their St. Martin's imprint is 256 pages and is available in hardcover, audio, and ebook formats. It's worth noting that the ebook format has a handy interactive table of contents as well as interactive links, which is helpful for finding information and names/references quickly and efficiently.

This is an absolute gut-punch of a memoir. The author was a trained journalist and his factual observations and lived experiences are wrenching, terrifying, and depressing. The scale of the casual brutality was mind boggling, so outrageously far outside comprehension that it's difficult to even place it in context.

Suppressed and ignored for more than 70 years, it's now translated and published in 15 new languages. This is emphatically *not* a happy read. It is, however, an incredibly important read (especially given the current state of world politics and the depredations occurring in large swathes of the planet).

Although not annotated, it will find a place in important contemporary holocaust literature. An important book. The translation work by Paul Olchváry is seamless, and it flows very well without distraction from the stark horrific reality of the subject matter.

Five stars. A wide publication from a major publisher, it should find a place on every public and post-secondary library shelf, as well as for readers of history and the holocaust.

Disclosure: I received an ARC at no cost from the author/publisher for review purposes.

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I gave this long lost memoir of life in the Auschwitz camps 5 stars but, if I could, I'd give it 10 stars!!

This memoir Hungarian journalist and poet who arrived in Auschwitz in 1944 and was put to work as a slave laborer is brutal, painful to read, and yet important to read. Incredible detail about daily life in several of the camps, including, for his final months in camp, living in a hospital camp where prisoners too weak to work awaited death on extremely limited rations.

It's a haunting eyewitness account with details about the harsh treatment by fellow Jews in positions of authority and about food, bartering, diseases, and the deaths he saw.

Though painful to read, this book is riveting. I've read quite a few books about life in the camps and I can't recall any better than this. It should be a classic.

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5 stars Thank you to St Martins Press and NetGalley for this ARC in exchange for an unbiased review. Republished January 23, 2024 (First published January 1, 1950) by St. Martin's Press.


Un-put-downable! There is no other word for this book. It is short - just 243 pages - however I read it in one sitting. That is something I rarely do, but I could not put this book down. The topic is horrific and heart breaking, but the need to read on is powerful.

The author, an Hungarian Jew, spent years in German prison camps -in extermination camps - starting off with Auschwitz. The story takes you from the first step onto the railroad car to the splitting of the prisoners, between walking and traveling by truck and what that meant, to being liberated from Dornhau, after a near fatal bout of typhoid.

There is nothing happy or pleasant about this story, but it details a time in our history that must be remembered. It must be remembered so that we never again put in office a monster, a tyrant that thinks he is a God and able to do anything at his own whim. Dictatorship is a crime in itself. We need to be diligent and make sure we never see the likes of a modern day Hitler.

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As an inmate of Auschwitz, Jozsef found himself forced to work in many camps as a slave to the Nazi regime. Losing his health found him sent to Dornhau, a camp for those unable to work any more. In deplorable, unimaginably filthy surroundings, he managed to live to tell his horrific story. Plainly and starkly written, this is a testament to the human spirit.

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Thank you Netgalley for the book in exchange for a honest review. As a lover of history, this book was very depressing to read at times due to the torture the people of the holocaust endured. However, the story was very well written and the author was great of telling what he went through. Would highly recommend this book for lovers of history and the holocaust.

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Thank you to Net Galley for this e copy of Cold Crematorium by Josef Debreczeni in exchange for a honest review.This is a profound, chilling first hand account of the insides of Auschwitz and Dornhau, a slave camp where the author was sent to towards the end of World War 2.?This is a perfect example of man’s inhumanity to man where everyone from the Nazis to fellow slaves treat each other horribly and are always looking to steal from one another.The author’s account gives a very accurate yet chilling account of this terrible period of history.

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