Smoke over Birkenau by Seweryna Szmaglewska (1916-1992) is a unique book, the first eyewitness non-fiction account of life and death in the most infamous of Nazi exterminstion camps, Auschwitz-Birkenau (Oświęcim), an eloquent and important analysis of the individual experience of modem war. Its author was a student of Warsaw University in 1939 when war broke over her native Poland. She immediately joined the underground, risking the posibility of the inevitable arrest which came in 1942 when she was sent to Birkenau. In the foreword to Smoke over Birkenau she wrote:
“May story tells of only one chine of death that was Oświęcim. I will give only the data of what I observed or what I myself endured directly… These are the experiences of one person alone – a drop in the vast immeasurable ocean. Without doubt there will be others who will come back from many others camps. But the majority will never return and will never talk”.