Shlomo Venezia

Shlomo Venezia was a Greek-born Italian Jew whose experiences at one of the Third Reich’s most notorious extermination camps gave him the sombre privilege of bearing witness to the twentieth century’s most horrific crime. Arrested by the Nazis in 1944, he was taken to Auschwitz-Birkenau, where he was forced to work in a Sonderkommando unit, a team of inmates tasked with disposing of and cremating the corpses of those who had perished in the gas chambers. Despite the Nazis’ policy of systemically murdering the members of these teams to erase their terrible knowledge, he was one of a handful who evaded death. He gave a unique account of this ordeal in the harrowing and important Polity book Inside the Gas Chambers, which dispassionately evokes everyday life at the heart of the Holocaust, describing the sadism of the SS guards and the heroic attempts of some prisoners to escape and to resist.