Review The Pharmacist of Auschwitz by Patricia Posner


Formerly Known as Freefalling
SOF Support
Sep 8, 2006
Not Afghanistan
The title is the subject. It is about Victor Capesius, an ethnic German from Romania, who was the Auschwitz complex's pharmacist. In that capacity he treated sick SS men and their families, disbursed Zyklon-B, was part of the crew who "swiped left and swiped right" to those getting off the trains, and used gold fillings to build a post-war life.

He was apretty unremarkable guy, a pharmacist by trade who was a successful salesman for Bayer (yes, the aspirin company). He eventually became a part of the SS (he claims they drafted him) and was sent to Auschwitz. He went from an average Joe to a pretty serious player at a place that killed around 1 million Jews during WWII.

The book is fascinating because of what happened after the war. Short version: Lie, deny, obfuscate. The second galf of the book traces his post-war life, arrest, trial, and conviction for war crimes. The indifference of post-war Germany is rather startling and the fact people were convicted some 20 years after the war laid the groundwork for future trials related to the Holocaust.

The book is well written, researched, and sourced. Kind of a niche book on WWII history, but very fascinating since it tells one man's story while providing a great context on the overall topic.