The Stunning and Emotional Autobiography of an Auschwitz Survivor
April 7, 1944—This date marks the successful escape of two Slovak prisoners from one of the most heavily-guarded and notorious concentration camps of Nazi Germany. The escapees, Rudolf Vrba and Alfred Wetzler, fled over one hundred miles to be the first to give the graphic and detailed descriptions of the atrocities of Auschwitz.
Originally published in the early 1960s, I Escaped from Auschwitz is the striking autobiography of none other than Rudolf Vrba himself. Vrba details his life leading up to, during, and after his escape from his 21-month internment in Auschwitz. Vrba and Wetzler manage to evade Nazi authorities looking for them and make contact with the Jewish council in Zilina, Slovakia, informing them about the truth of the “unknown destination” of Jewish deportees all across Europe. This first-hand report alerted Western authorities, such as Pope Pius XII, Winston Churchill, and Franklin D. Roosevelt, to the reality of Nazi annihilation camps—information that until then had only been recognized as nasty rumors.
I Escaped from Auschwitz is a close-up look at the horror faced by the Jewish people in Auschwitz and across Europe during World War II. This newly edited translation of Vrba’s memoir will leave readers reeling at the terrors faced by those during the Holocaust. Despite the profound emotions brought about by this narrative, readers will also find an astounding story of heroism and courage in the face of seemingly hopeless circumstances.
About the Author
Rudolf Vrba was born in Czechoslovakia (now Slovakia) in 1924. As a teenager, he was deported to Auschwitz. He was interned there from April 1942 to June 1944, when he and fellow prisoner Alfred Wetzler escaped. He and Wetzler’s report of the atrocities of Auschwitz alerted authorities across the world, eventually helping save hundreds of thousands of other Jewish people from being deported to the concentration camp. Vrba defected to Israel in 1958 and worked at the Weizmann Research Institute until in 1960 when he moved to England and published his story in a series of articles in the Daily Herald, following the arrest of Adolf Eichmann. He eventually published his full memoir in 1963 as I Cannot Forgive. In 1967, Vrba moved to Canada and passed away in Vancouver in 2006.
"With remarkable specificity gained from camp jobs that gave him unusual access to various corners of Auschwitz, including the gas chambers, Vrba told the unknown truth about it." —The New York Times
"One of the most harrowing and profound stories of human struggle ever written. . . . This deeply personal story helped me understand how a regime conspired to commit murder on an industrial scale and the almost impossible struggle people faced to survive." —Sydney Morning Herald
"Among attempts to break down the wall of silence around the Auschwitz secrets, historians have no doubt that the escape of Vrba and his fellow prisoner, Alfred Wetzler, was by far the most important." —Guardian
"Vrba’s photographic memory enabled him to retain much of the geography and the placement of the facilities as he went about his work." —Los Angeles Times
"Details Vrba’s experience in a concentration camp as well as his harrowing escape." —Deadline