College of Arts and Sciences


Master of Arts in History - Thesis (MA)


David Snead


Auschwitz, Sonderkommando, Extermination Camps, Scrolls of Auschwitz, Concentration Camps, Birkenau


History | Holocaust and Genocide Studies


The Scrolls of Auschwitz provide a voice not only for the men who had to work in Auschwitz-Birkenau, but also for those who worked in other camps and locations – almost none of whom survived. Because there were more survivors and more information on the Sonderkommando of Birkenau, these men and their testimony have become the foundation on which the scholarship on the Sonderkommando has been built; therefore, as the only writings by Sonderkommando men known to have survived their time in the camps, the Scrolls lie at the center of this topic. Gideon Greif notes that these writings “allow us to contemplate the affective and moral world that the Sonderkommando members inhabited under the terms of this reality.” Though there will never be perfect clarity on the ethics and morality of what happened in the gas chambers and crematoria of Auschwitz-Birkenau, the Scrolls of Auschwitz, compared to eyewitness testimony and coinciding with acts of resistance, show most Sonderkommando resisting their situations and exemplify their ability to act as witnesses to the destruction of the European Jewry.