Surviving the Unspeakable in Auschwitz and Dora
By (author) Pierre Berg
Scheisshaus Luck by Pierre Berg
Book DescriptionIn 1943, eighteen year old Pierre Berg picked the wrong time to visit a friend's house -- at the same time as the Gestapo. He was thrown into the infamous Auschwitz concentration camp. But through a mixture of savvy and chance, he managed to survive...and ultimately got out alive. "As far as I'm concerned," says Berg, "it was all shithouse luck, which is to say -- inelegantly -- that I kept landing on the right side of the randomness of life." Such begins the first memoir of a French gentile Holocaust survivor published in the U.S. Originally penned shortly after the war when memories were still fresh, Scheisshaus Luck recounts Berg's constant struggle in the camps, escaping death countless times while enduring inhumane conditions, exhaustive labor, and near starvation. The book takes readers through Berg's time in Auschwitz, his hair's breadth avoidance of Allied bombing raids, his harrowing "death march" out of Auschwitz to Dora, a slave labor camp (only to be placed in another forced labor camp manufacturing the Nazis' V1 & V2 rockets), and his eventual daring escape in the middle of a pitched battle between Nazi and Red Army forces. Utterly frank and tinged with irony, irreverence, and gallows humor, Scheisshaus Luck ranks in importance among the work of fellow survivors Elie Wiesel and Primo Levi. As we quickly approach the day when there will be no living eyewitnesses to the Nazi's "Final Solution," Berg's memoir stands as a searing reminder of how the Holocaust affected us all.
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Book DetailsISBN: 9780814412992
(238mm x 160mm x 32mm)
Publish Date: 1-Sep-2008
Country of Publication: United States
US Kirkus Review » The harrowing story of Berg's time in Nazi concentration camps, related with "irony, irreverence, and gallows humor" that led co-author Brock to urge him to publish it a half-century after it was written.The pair collaborated to amplify and clarify the original manuscript, but retained the cocky voice of a French Resistance member only 18 years old when he was arrested in Nice in late 1943. On a train full of prisoners, Berg met Stella, a pretty Jewish girl with whom he snatched some stolen sex and happiness at the Drancy transit camp near Paris. There he also had the misfortune to encounter the Gestapo agent who had arrested him in Nice; the agent ordered him sent to Auschwitz. But the "shithouse luck" of his book's title, Berg explains in his preface, meant that he "kept landing on the right side of the randomness of life." A minor clerical error caused another Haftling (prisoner) to be hung in his stead. Berg got to carry on collecting corpses, digging trenches and cadging the occasional extra ladle of watery soup that sometimes made the difference between life and death. Like other survivors, he graphically recalls the beatings, hunger, sickness, selections, stink, despair and omnipresent death. Berg's mechanical skill and proficiency in German, English, Italian, Spanish and a bit of Russian, in addition to his native French, contributed to his Scheisshaus luck. The young Haftling was sent to the caves of Dora, where he assembled V-1 and V-2 rockets as a slave of IG Farben. When freedom came, he was caught between the retreating Wehrmacht and the advancing, marauding Red Army. He was searching for Stella, never forgotten during his 18 months in the camps, and the randomness of life proved itself once again.A worthy supplement to the reports of Primo Levi and Elie Wiesel. (Kirkus Reviews)
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Author Biography - Pierre Berg
Pierre Berg was held prisoner in four different concentration camps, from January 1944 until May 1945. He emigrated to the U.S. following World War II. Now retired after forty years as a machinist in the movie industry, he keeps himself busy ushering at L.A. playhouses. Brian Brock is a freelance writer.
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