survivor of buchenwald

Survivor of Buchenwald

My Personal Odyssey through Hell


One of the 238,980 persons who had the misfortune to be imprisoned at the sprawling, squalid Buchenwald concentration camp overlooking the city of Weimar, Germany, during its eight horrific years of operation (1937-1945) was a young Frenchman named Louis Gros. Louis was not Jewish; he had been born and raised Catholic. Yet, as a 17-year-old, he had the temerity to resist the Nazi Occupation of his country–an endeavor that cost him his freedom, his health, and nearly his life.

In this searing autobiography, translated from the French, Louis tells of his (and his father’s) arrest in their hometown of Escles, in Lorraine, in November 1942, his transportation by overcrowded railroad boxcar to the camp, and the brutal treatment to which he and everyone there was subjected on an hourly basis.

Louis was in the camp on August 24, 1944–the day the adjoining V-2 rocket-component factory where he worked was bombed by the U.S. Army Air Force–and was still there when the camp was finally liberated in April 1945 by a unit from Patton’s Third U.S. Army. This is a Holocaust memoir that will be hard to put down–and even harder to forget.

Suddenly, a piercing whistle tore through the air and grew louder. In Buchenwald, the whistle we heard was loud, harsh, and upsetting. Not surprising: The [American] aircraft were flying at a few thousand meters altitude and the bombs they were dropping were high caliber. You could hardly feel indifferent! We were just (or rather, unjustly) below the merry-go-round of terror. Even some of us were full of jubilation, recognizing the importance of what was happening (had not our American friends been reducing the major enemy arms centers to dust?), it was fear that was uppermost, grinding our guts and exposing raw nerves. Instinctively, from the opening of the window where I hung, I turned my gaze in the direction of the whistles, now so loud they drowned out the roar of the bombers.

Thoughts and feelings flooded through me. A great flash of light and, like the knife on a guillotine, I then saw a wall of darkness descended beyond the woods that separated the quarry from the camp. The wild, inhuman, and devastating dance had begun. We were about to be liquefied by the conflagration from the bombs, tormented in hell.

“The second volume of the Buchenwald Trilogy brings home with stark clarity the utter despair and degradation of a Nazi concentration camp. Riveting and poignant, this crowning achievement is worthy of all praise.”

– Michael E. Haskew
Editor, WWII History magazine

Survivor of Buchenwald is one of the best accounts in print by a former inmate.”

– John C. McManus
Author of Hell Before Their Very Eyes: American Soldiers
Liberate Concentration Camps in Germany, April 1945

“The second volume of The Buchenwald Trilogy, Survivor of Buchenwald: My Personal Odyssey Through Hell, is the first-hand testimony of Nazi concentration camp survivor Louis Gros, who was sentenced to the lethal prisons for “minor offenses” against the Third Reich. He experienced stomach-churning nightmares of human hatred and torture, barely survived, and suffered from tuberculosis for years afterward. A harrowing account, Survivor of Buchenwald speaks out strongly against human evil, and is a highly recommended addition to Holocaust Studies shelves, as are The Beasts of Buchenwald and Hell on a Hilltop.”

– Midwest Book Review

“Absolutely stunning. A very readable version of hell. Read the entire trilogy.”

– Jacquelyn J. Caccia reviewer

“This second book of the Buchenwald trilogy was another very interesting, although due to the subject matter, not always easy book to read. This time we see the horrors of the Buchenwald Camp through the eyes of an inmate–one who was there and actually survived the nightmare. The author takes us back to the time he spent at the camp and gives the reader a pretty good understanding of what it took to survive in a place such as Buchenwald. The initial train trip he was on while being sent to the camp in itself was hard to imagine. People crowded into cars and dying from the heat and thirst…all of this before even arriving at the place where so many would end up dying. There are also many interesting pictures throughout which really helped to visualize what the author was referring to. Highly recommended.”

– Kadee, reviewer

Survivor of Buchenwald is much more than a history. It is a cry from the heart, one man’s endless, agonizing days in that foul place, a simple, well-told tale of human misery and the indestructible human spirit.

“Collaborator Flint Whitlock is as good a writer of history as I know; his other books on the horror of Buchenwald are compelling and powerful. This one is even more so. He does not preach, but the moral of the book is self-evident: All this unspeakable misery can come again unless people of good will are vigilant and willing to fight for what is right. Whitlock and Gros have done the world a favor. It is human nature to forget the painful things of the past; this is one that should never be forgotten.”

– Robert Barr Smith
Author of Men at War and To the Last Cartridge

“The unadorned language of this eloquent memoir by a member of the French Resistance imprisoned by the Nazis leaves no room for pity or, most importantly, denial.”

– Leila Levinson
Author of Gated Grief: The Daughter of a GI Concentration Camp Liberator
Discovers a Legacy of Trauma

Available from Cable Publishing,, and Barnes and Noble.

ISBN 13: 978-1-934980-74-38133-4288-0 (hardcover)

ISBN 13: 978-1-934980-75-0 (softcover)