Posner is among those who applaud the efforts of cities
such as Dallas to remember the Holocaust. In 2018, the
Dallas Holocaust Museum will move into a greatly
expanded, 50,000-square-foot space near The Sixth Floor
Museum at Dealey Plaza.
is abundantly familiar with the stories both museums
tell. She’s the wife of author Gerald Posner, with
whom she collaborated, as she has on all of his books,
on Case Closed, a Pulitzer Prize finalist that many
contend is the definitive book on the assassination of
Patricia Posner, 65, is a published author in her own
right. Her new book is "The Pharmacist of
Auschwitz: The Untold Story." The book is also
being published in conjunction with International
Holocaust Remembrance Day. Jan. 27 is the 72nd
anniversary of the day Auschwitz-Birkenau was liberated.
a time when Holocaust denial is a real and cancerous
force — indeed, it’s the subject of
"Denial," a movie still in theaters — and
anti-Semitism is on the rise in Europe and elsewhere,
Posner sees stories such as hers as being indispensable
records of the darkest chapter of the 20th century.
anti-Semitism problem and the anti-Jew problem have
risen to a peak again," says Posner, a Jewish woman
who grew up in London in the aftermath of World War II.
for her, "The Pharmacist of Auschwitz" is
"a very passionate story. Being Jewish, I’ve
always had a thing about history and the Holocaust. Even
now, I don’t quite understand how it got that far. And
I really don’t understand the other part, which is
Holocaust denial. That is extremely upsetting to
that reason alone, she hopes her book will be read by
people in their 30s and 40s but also by an even younger
audience worldwide, which she says needs to hear the
story of the Holocaust and to examine its relevance
had the most extraordinary conversation with
someone," she says. "He was an educated man,
in his 40s. He had gone to see ‘Schindler’s List’
and said, ‘I didn’t know that that happened.’"
the more reason to write "The Pharmacist of
Auschwitz," which chronicles the life of Victor
Capesius, whom the book describes as "an
ethnic-German Romanian pharmacist who joined the SS and
subsequently took part in the genocide of the Jews at
Auschwitz, the epicenter of Nazi death camps."
yet, there’s more. Posner’s book doubles as the
spellbinding story of Nazi Germany’s largest
industrial conglomerate, I.G. Farben. Capesius worked
for Farben’s Bayer pharmaceutical subsidiary. As
Posner’s book graphically illustrates: "Farben
itself benefited from slave labor at a massive
concentration camp it built next door to
Lascelles, her publisher, describes Capesius as
"someone who illustrates so well writer Hannah
Arendt’s ‘banality of evil,’ an ordinary man
capable of extraordinary crimes who is unburdened by a
aided her husband on his many books, Posner says,
"My favorite part is research, finding the
for this book, she found many, relying on newly
declassified documents from U.S. archives. Those helped
enormously, she says, in determining that, despite
Capesius’ attempts to go underground after the war, a
chance encounter led to his arrest. As the book notes,
"Amazingly, both the British and Americans freed
him without any charges, and he set up a pharmacy and
beauty store on the proceeds of gold that he had stolen
from the mouths of corpses at Auschwitz."
took German prosecutors almost two decades to bring him
and 22 of his Auschwitz SS colleagues to trial in 1964.
Convicted of aiding and abetting in the deaths of
thousands, he served a fraction of a nine-year sentence.
He died peacefully in 1985.
had his pharmacy, he had his three children,"
Posner says. "The other frightening thing for me
was, when he made his first public appearance at a local
concert, people stood up and applauded. Think about it:
It’s 1968, and they’re applauding him."
yet, in one important way, her book is a celebration of
a rare kind of heroism. Its compelling side story offers
an in-depth profile of Nazi hunter Fritz Bauer, who
proved relentless in hunting down Capesius and bringing
him to justice, as best he could.
that reason alone, Posner sees the ending to her book as
being "so powerful, because Fritz Bauer never gives
story evolves from "Capesius’ world of the
darkness and terror of Auschwitz to the bravery of two
men — a camp survivor, Hermann Langbein, and Jewish
prosecutor Fritz Bauer, who over a 20-year period
managed to bring Capesius to justice," however
diminished it might have been. Bauer is also the subject
of the 2015 movie, "The People vs. Fritz
the sentence falling short of what Capesius deserved,
"in the end, they win," she says of Langbein
and Bauer, who offer a lesson for the world, for the
simplest of reasons.
the author’s words, "They never gave up."