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Operation Höss (Paperback)

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

Military Photographic Books WWII > Hitler & the Third Reich WWII > Photographic Books

By Ian Baxter
Imprint: Pen & Sword Military
Series: Images of War
Pages: 144
ISBN: 9781399062909
Published: 17th November 2022

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Operation Höss or Aktion Höss was the codename for the mass deportation of Hungarian Jews and their murder in the gas chambers of Birkenau extermination camp. Between 14 May and 9 July 1944, 420,000 Jews were sent to Auschwitz from Hungary, or about 12,000 per day. On arrival some twenty-five percent were selected for forced labour while the remainder were immediately gassed. The name of this atrocity came from Rudolf Höss, who returned as the commandant of Auschwitz to increase the killing capacity and ensure the smooth running of the operation. The specially built railway line into Birkenau from Auschwitz made transports to the camp more efficient enabling the SS to increase the daily killing capacity. After the war, SS Adolf Eichmann, who had organized the deportations from Hungary, boasted that Operation Höss was an achievement never matched before or since.

This shocking book tells the story of this inhuman venture from its conception and planning, and though to the bitter, tragic end.

It is 5 stars from me for this one – a great addition to books on WWII – very highly recommended!

Read the Full Review Here

Donna's Book Blog

4 out of 5

The author manages to capture the horror of this in a calm and dispassionate narrative using the photographs and his accompanying text.

Read the Full Review Here

Army Rumour Service (ARRSE)

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

Operation Höss; The Deportation of Hungarian Jews to Auschwitz, May–July 1944 by Ian Baxter was a very important read for me. My grandparents were holocaust survivors, Rromani and communist Magyars. I am thankful every day that they were never sent to any camps, though they did endure some of the most wretched that the war had to offer. This history is very important to me and I was so thankful to receive a digital arc.

NetGalley, Sunny Courtney

'Operation Höss: The Deportation of Hungarian Jews to Auschwitz-Birkenau, May-July 1944' by Ian Baxter is a short photo collection complemented by statistical data and a summary of the events.

Operation Höss in May-July 1944 highlights the contradictions in the thinking of Nazi authorities. On the one hand, the regime needed slave laborers to supplement the war effort. On the other hand, only 10% of around 430,000 deported Jews were selected for labor, and many of that 10% perished because of the principle of 'annihilation through work.' The collection chronicles the embarkment at various points in Hungary and disembarkment in Auschwitz-Birkenau. For those who read extensively about concentration camps, photographs of smiling women and crying children won't come as a surprise: till the last minute, Jews were not aware of what was happening. But if we start thinking about the numbers - 3,000 Jews arriving each day - the book becomes a horrifying testimony of human cruelty.

NetGalley, Darya Silman

Operation Hoss tells the story of the deportation of the Hungarian Jews to Auschwitz. The Germans were meticulous record keepers and photographers who were only too willing to give evidence to their atrocities. Operation Hoss was named after Commandant Hoss who was in charge of Auschwitz and who oversaw the selections and exterminations that happened at Auschwitz. This book offers precise details and pictures of how and when this operation occurred. Very haunting pictures.

NetGalley, Mary Cummins

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

I really enjoy the books in this series and this one was no different.

I do think that the images in this series tell a lot, the limited captions work very well to give a brief overview of who is who and what was going on in the picture chosen.

This book is similar to the author’s other books in this series I have read and I enjoy the insights that he gives. The book is well written and the writing is concise and the introduction to each chapter covers everything needed.

The chapters are well laid out and in this one there are less graphic images than in some of the other books. You see the arrival of those going to the camps, but knowing the outcomes and doesn't make the book any less horrifying to read when you look at the ages of those that you know were in the queue that wouldn't make it.

It is 5 stars from me for this one – a great addition to books on WWII - very highly recommended!

NetGalley, Donna Maguire

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

An interesting and picture filled guide to how the Nazis deported Hungarian Jews from their homes and stole their belongings.

NetGalley, Caroline Palmer

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

The Nazi’s obsession with documentation led to the taking of numerous photographs of Operation Hoss, the deportation and murder of the Hungarian Jewish population towards the end of WW2. Utilizing these pictures, along with Nazi records, and writing in a matter of fact style without judgement, Ian Baxter details the workings of this murder machine in Hungary, bringing the horror to life. Devastating.

NetGalley, Ira Smith

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

Operation Höss is an excruciating, haunting and nauseating book to read, though extremely important. Rudolf Höss turned Aushwitz-Birkenau into the biggest killing machine in Europe, called Operation Höss. More than 420,000 Jews were killed in May and June 1944. To kill at a rate of about 12,000 a day required streamlined efficiency including a railway system, administration, careful but fast planning and systematic psychological trickery. Not only are the grim statistics included but also the realities of living conditions which were in my mind not for the living. Hunger, humiliation, sickness, slave labour, torture and death were constants.

The photographs included within are extremely rare, the only visual record left of Kanada Kommandos sorting through hills of clothing of the freshly-killed, transportation of Jews to the murder camp and selecting those fit to work and those who were not. The latter were gassed immediately and those fit to work were subjected to "annihilation through work", very counterproductive as workers were needed. But they knew where to get more. During selection efficiency and calm were key so often healthy mothers were sent to be killed with their children rather than separate them. The goal was to exterminate all Jews and this particular operation focused on Jews from Hungary. They were loaded onto trains without water or food and only one toilet bucket per car to weaken them to prevent resistance upon arrival at the selection ramps.

While people were suffering the deepest of agonies, the likes of Mengele, Himmler, Kramer and Höss enjoyed socializing and laughing. Photographs attest to this.

Those very interested in this specific operation and learning more about Auschwitz-Birkenau ought to add this to their list. Reading it is not easy. I had to stop many times as the suffering of others was too much to take, knowing this was very real and far beyond the worst imaginable nightmare on every level. The photographs are gut wrenching. Yet this is vital information we all should know as this must be prevented from happening again.

My sincere thank you to Pen & Sword and NetGalley for allowing me to read this challenging and life-changing powerful book, one I will never forget.

NetGalley, Brenda Carleton

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

A detailed and well researched and referenced book. This type of in depth information on aspects of the Holocaust become increasingly important as time passes - these things must not be forgotten.

NetGalley, Louise Gray

About Ian Baxter

Ian Baxter is a much-published author and photographic collector whose books draw an increasing following. Among his many previous titles in the Images of War Series are Hitler’s Boy Soldiers, Nazi Concentration Camp Commandants, The Ghettos of Nazi Occupied Poland, German Army on the Eastern Front – The Advance, German Army on the Eastern Front – The Retreat, The Crushing of Army Group (North) and the SS Waffen Division series including SS Leibstandarte Division, SS Totenkopf Division At War, Waffen SS of the Baltic States, Waffen SS at Arnhem and Waffen SS in the Ardennes. He lives near Chelmsford, Essex.

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