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An Author's Response

June 09, 1985

I have just seen a copy of Ronald Florence's review of my "Inside the Vicious Heart" (Book Review, May 12).

I do not automatically expect praise, but I do expect that a reviewer at least report and confront what a book says. Florence accuses me of making "scant use" of the photographs in the book. As evidence, he notes that some photographs taken at Dachau show much healthier prisoners than at other camps and muses that "these were probably political prisoners, arrested in the last gasps of the Nazi regime. It is obvious in the photographs, unmentioned in the text." In fact, I devote a good deal of time, especially in discussing Buchenwald and Dachau, to making clear the vast difference between treatment of political prisoners and those incarcerated for "racial" reasons and noting their respective conditions at the time of liberation. In the case of Buchenwald, I show how the two-tier system distorted American understandings of the camp.

Florence, in his final paragraph, seems to cast doubt upon my intellectual honesty and use of sources, misrepresenting even what I have said in my note on sources, and completely ignoring the clear and complete citation of evidence in my endnotes. To read his review, it sounds as if I have not used relevant secondary material or do not credit that use. Nothing could be further from the truth.

Finally, I would point out a glaring omission. One quarter of the book is devoted to analyses of the reception of the story of the camps on the homefront and the immediate postwar treatment of displaced persons. These very important sections receive no mention at all in Florence's review. All I can say is, thank God he found the pictures of interest.

ROBERT H. ABZUG

Austin, Tex.

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