Protective Custody

Protective Custody: Prisoner 34042 - Susan E. Cernyak-Spatz, Joel Shatzky

This is not a book you want to like. And it is not important whether I rate this book 5 stars or none, it’s a book that needs to be read not rated. Most books I read are about the human experience, are about what it feels like to be alive and to be an individual person.

Protective Custody is an account the total dehumanisation of individuals that was orchestrated by the Nazis and their helpers in Europe.


Susan Cernyak-Spatz gives a very open account of at first being persecuted across the continent and later of her experience as prisoner in Auschwitz. It is the frankness of her recollections that make this book an important witness of what still is probably the most horrific act of violence and organised indifference committed against other human beings.

And still what I carry with me from the book – after I purge the images of death and violence from my mind – is neither sympathy nor hatred, but an urge to deny ignorance or indifference the chance to flourish. Easier said than done.