Operation Höss -The Deportation of Hungarian Jews to Auschwitz, May–July 1944

Published on
Review Author(s)
Book Author(s)
Ian Baxter
Other Publication Information
Paperback (9.6”x 7.4”), 144 pages with over 250 black and white photographs.
Product / Stock #
Images of War
Company: Pen & Sword - Website: Visit Site
Provided by: Casemate Publishers - Website: Visit Site

Ian Baxter is a prolific author and has an impressive collection of photographs, many unpublished previously. The book follows the familiar Images of War format with brief introductions for each chapter followed by a lot of photographs to tell the story. After reading Ian’s book on Heinrich Himmler, the Architect of the Holocaust, I wanted to read, and learn more, about the mass deportation of some 438,000 Hungarian Jews. Ian Baxter did not disappoint. He illustrated how the Nazi final solution had become even more efficient and brutal in 1944 after the Hungarian change in government at the behest of the Germans. The Hungarian Jews, who until that time, were temporarily protected, were now open to joining their Jewish neighbors throughout Europe. Operation Höss was named after Rudolph Höss, the longest serving commandant of the Auschwitz camp system from 4 May 1940 to November 1943. He was recalled back from 8 May 1944 to 18 January 1945 to oversee the Hungarian Jews final solution.

Operation Höss - The Deportation of Hungarian Jews to Auschwitz, May–July 1944, is composed of an introduction, six chapters and five appendixes:

  • Chapter One: Preparations
  • Chapter Two: Deportation
  • Chapter Three: Arrival
  • Chapter Four: Slave Labour
  • Chapter Five: Murder
  • Chapter Six: The Aftermath
  • Appendix One: Timeline
  • Appendix Two: Hungarian Jewish Ghettos
  • Appendix Three: Kassa List
  • Appendix Four: Hungarians Deported and Selected for Labour
  • Appendix Five: Detailed Listing of Male and Female Train Transports

After a summary of the chapter to come, there follows a plethora of photographs, most of which are official party photographs taken by the Politische Abteilung Erkennungsdienst (Political Department Identification Service) to document the process in an album that became known as the Aussiedlung der Juden aus Ungam (The Deportation of the Hungarian Jews). The original album consisted of 56 pages and 193 photographs.

Ian Baxter again proves his amazing ability to succinctly make complex history into an easy to understand, compact chapter. He focuses and expands on the Nazi obsessive need to document. The horrifying efficiency of the Nazi process at Auschwitz-Birkenau is explained through the text, but even more so through the photographs that show the tired, but not scared Hungarian Jews. The process was so efficient and calm, that the victims often didn’t realize their fate until the last moments.

While the initial goal of the deportation was to increase Reich productivity, a vast majority (the author cites only 10% were selected for labor) of the deported were executed within hours of their arrival, overwhelming the crematoriums so much that standardized and specific trenches were used to relieve the congestion. Jewish workers were formed into groups to help with the selection and process of extermination: Sonderkommando (“special unit” who were tasked in removing the bodies from the gas chambers and disposing of the bodies), Kanada Kommandos (named after the warehouse complex known as “Kanada” who sorted the possessions of the victims, and Aufraumungskommando (“order commandos” who, along with the Kanada Kommandos assisted in duties such as unloading Jews from the trains)

There really isn’t much in this book for modelers, but for historians and others who want to learn more about the Holocaust, this is a somber, detailed book that illustrates both the efficiency and horror of the Nazi Final Solution. It is through efforts like this book, that it is brought back to the human conscientiousness. Humanity has a duty to ensure that this never happens again.

I highly recommend this book despite the dark topic it covers; however, once again, in the words of another astute and studied Brit, Winston Churchill described the deportation and murder of Hungarian Jews as “the greatest and most horrible crime ever committed in the whole history of the world.”

Profuse thanks to Casemate (https://www.casematepublishers.com) and IPMS-USA for providing the review sample.


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