“If these are men, then I am the most vile person in the world!” exclaimed August Hirt, professor of medicine, justifying his actions in a short-lived moment of self-reflection provoked by the fear of soon being captured by French troops.
The gypsies he used as guinea pigs could not be men, one does not do these kinds of things to men…
And if the Jews were men, then his precious
collection of skulls would seem unforgivably heinous. He had to act quickly, for Heinrich Himmler had told him that soon there would be not a single Jew left alive in Europe! He had behaved as any Nazi scientist would, having selected the most representative subjects of the race, according to Mein Kampf,
having measured them from every angle, having photographed them…before gassing them to reduce them to skeletons.
In this, his 10th book, Serge Janouin-Benanti takes us on a nightmarish descent into the inner workings of the Natzweiler-Struthof concentration camp, a World War II death camp in the Alsace region. Not only does he describe the experiments of August Hirt, but also those of two other eminent
professors of the School of Medicine in Strasbourg:
the virologist and candidate for the Nobel prize Eugen Haagen,
as well as the director of the clinic, Otto Bickenbach.
Serge Janouin-Benanti’s upsetting narrative leaves us speechless, as he plunges us into the abomination of racist logic. An unforgettable book.