Skip to main content

tv   Book TV  CSPAN  November 27, 2009 6:00pm-7:00pm EST

6:00 pm
idea where this thief john gilkey is and how i can get ahold of him and he said, this guy was convicted, he did three years time at san quentin but he was released a few months ago. i don't think you'll ever find him and if you do find him he's not going to tell you anything about his books because he denied having stolen them when he was in court. so i knew it was a long shot but i call the san quentin and, indeed, it sanders was right, he had done his time and released earlier but what sanders didn't know and i was to find out through calling the prison system was that he had been arrested again for the same thing and at that time doing time in tracy, california east of san francisco.
6:01 pm
>> over about three or four years and so i got to know him well. so that is really how this story came about. and now i guess we will read from the book. i am going to read from around the middle, it's chapter nine called brick row. a couple of months after gilkey's 2005 release from
6:02 pm
prison i met him in front a building that houses several art galleries and rare book stores in san francisco. it was a september morning. he held a folder on top of which lay a hand-written number of list, his to-do lists. how do you want to do this he asks. the week before he had agreed to let me tagalong with him on one of his scouting trips to learn how he selects books. i had suggested going to goodwill. gilkey wanted to take me to brick row from which he had stolen the mayor of caster bridge. i tried to mask my disbelief and hope he would think of another place. are you sure, i asked. wouldn't goodwill work. if not that, are there any other sources? probably sensing my unease he hesitated. maybe they will recognize me.
6:03 pm
considered it. on second thought it will be a problem. at home i e-mailed sanders. would john crichton be upset or angry. i did not relish dealing with it. crane is a good guy and gave me the impression that it would not be a problem. i was still wary. so far i had only come to know guilty only through our private conversations. i he shared many characteristics of other collectors, but it set him apart. was he immoral or mentally ill? how are such lines drawn. accompanying gilkey to brick row was an irresistible chance to be
6:04 pm
an eye-witness. also i heard that the shop was well regarded. standing on the sidewalk gilkey said he would show me what he typically looks for and how he goes about it. he did not appear to be apprehensive. i was all nerves. i had no idea what correction might do when we walked in. this was going to be offered at the very least. we took the elevator to the second floor and passed the rare book shop of john wendell who had been helpful months earlier. a book that had captured my curiosity and let me to gilkey and sanders. i was sure window with recognize me and also gilkey. as we passed the shop i turned and looked the other way so that i would not have to explain myself. these are small quiet shops, places where one customer is the norm, two is busy, and three feels bustling. we arrived at the door almost immediately. we walked in and faced two men,
6:05 pm
john crichton, the owner standing near the rear and employees standing in a desk. did they recognize me? inside brick row natural light streamed toward the windows. a graceful arc of shelves ran to the middle of the shop. it was a great refuge. if you ignored the computer and found it could be a 19th century bookshop. thousands of majestic leather bound books caught the light as i walked by. given gilkey victorian libraries fantasies i could see why he favored the shops. unlike sanders brick row was tiny. the film maker would do well to use it as a set. more classier than some of the
6:06 pm
others. crichton spoke from behind his desk. may i help you? his questions seem to ask much more. he was looking hard at gilkey. i am not here to buy anything said gilkey. just to look around if that is okay. we just want to look. no answer. crichton stood facing us. he had an insured air. gilkey referred to his list of the modern libraries 100 best novels and explains to me how he often looks for books on it. he pointed to nathaniel hawthorne. you have any hawthorne? crichton answered no. i know he has one. i know he has one, gilkey whispered to me. gilkey pointed to another book on his list. kurt vonnegut. i would like something from him,
6:07 pm
too. and d.h. lawrence. crichton looked stunned. he turned around again. a few seconds later while gilkey was explaining to me which books he might want to look for crichton asked, what is your name. john. i looked down at my notes. john what? gilkey. right way to the moment and looked up. he did not take his eyes off us. gilkey informed me about the additional authors. he commented. crichton stared a moment and then asked me, and who are you? i sat there.
6:08 pm
so i'll answer any questions as long as it's not is this a novel or what era did it take place in. please step up to the mic if you have a question. [laughter] okay. [inaudible question] >> good question. he is in san francisco now as far as i know. whenever people have asked me this question unless i have spoken with them five minutes earlier i don't know. occasionally he doesn't respond, which means he's back in prison. last i heard he was in san francisco. he has been studying. he has a degree in economics
6:09 pm
already, but he enjoys going to college. studies business, philosophy and literature. as far as how he supports himself, that's always kind of a puzzle. he will work part-time jobs occasionally and make some money and then live very frugally. the only times i've known him is selling a book if needs to raise money for an attorney because he's been caught again or if he is really low on cash. >> how do all these rare booksellers that you have been working with feel about the fact that you have met this notorious book thief, as you just said,
6:10 pm
many, many times. >> i am not sure. i think they have mixed feelings. those that are victims are still very angry. that was one of the big surprises. when i met with them i figure a couple of books five years ago. they are very angry. i think this is because they are in this business of selling rare books because they love books. it is a very strong attachment. you know, to them is a piece of history. it is something much more than just pages. when gilkey steals from them it is, i think they feel very violated personally, as well. so they are angry about him, still. i think some -- i don't know how they feel.
6:11 pm
the question is does he give the books back when he gets caught. only if he was caught -- he was caught once -- well, what happened was he had an apartment on treasure island. there was a sting operation. they ended up going to this apartment and finding many books. not all of them. i think he has a storage facility somewhere. even among the books that they found in the apartment we could only take away those that they have proof of they were stolen. the reason they didn't have proof is because people don't always report the stuff. it has been traditional for rare book librarians to keep quiet about theft for ages. the reason is among librarians i think it is a bit of an
6:12 pm
embarrassment to admit the loss of. even though they can't protect every book of the time. often quite clever. if they have books still missing. i was talking to a rare book librarian about six months ago. when he had starting working there somebody asked for a book. he went to look for it. it wasn't there. when he went his boss and explained the situation she looked at him with a serious face and says we don't have missing books here ever. case closed. this is very, very common. it is a similar problem. book collectors when they're ready to sell a book or their whole collection to start over they will work with a rare book dealer to handle the sale.
6:13 pm
so if word were to get out that the dealer were losing books of course collectors. in fact, one dealer told me o nce, in this business once you have been tainted by theft you're toast. so it remains quiet. recently the british library did something very radical for a rare book library. they suffered a pretty significant theft, and they went out after the guy and caught hi. he was sentenced to two years in prison. they did make a big media splash. they really wanted to go public and send out the word that they aren't going to put up with this anymore. [inaudible question]
6:14 pm
>> ahead. >> why does he still? does he read these books? >> okay. the question is about i think how you even quantify whether a book is rare or not and why gilkey was so drawn to them. did i miss anything? does he read them? that is an easy one. no. most collectors don't read the books. they collect. they're big readers, and they enjoy -- that is why they got into book collecting is because they have been big readers and have loved books since there were children. but they want to preserve the physical book, and so they usually don't treat them. first bookfairs i went to in boston have lent by a book proof where there was a dealer who specialized in the modern first
6:15 pm
editions. somebody was walking by the booth and he said don't judge a book by its content. [laughter] as far as what makes a book rare. you know, i found i asked that question a lot and i found as many answers as there are collectors out there. usually they were pretty cheeky. i got several versions of it is a book out what really, really badly but i can have no matter how much money i have. as silly as that sounds it is also very close to the truth. it is a book that a lot of people desire, and there just aren't that many of them around. even if you're the wealthiest person on earth you can't get it. the three qualities that people look at the matter whether it is a 17th century illuminated manuscript or modern first edition are scarcity, condition, and importance. as for gilkey why he collects them, it is complicated, and i think that for a lot of collectors it is not an easy
6:16 pm
answer. they start collecting books. then there is something about our culture, even the culture, people still do value books a lot. to collect books says something about you. i think for gilkey, he said when he was a child he used to watch this old sherlock holmes movie or any movie set in the victoria movie. he was really enchanted with the idea of being a gentleman. these are his words, being a gentleman with a grand library. i would have a desk with a globe on it, and i would have a smoking jacket. so building a collection for him is a way of building an identity. says to the world this is what i care about. i am a cultured educated person and he is not a lot of different
6:17 pm
collectors who love the books. that is true of just about anybody. >> i have a pair of questions. one is, he must have some rationalization where this is not the sand sin or this is a jd thing that he does. i am curious if you learn that. the second is, is there something -- i'm afraid i'm going to spoil your story, but is there something in his technique? does he have some kind of cagy bizarre techniques for how he physically pulls off these stunts? >> i will be happy to answer bot h of those. he does justify it. essentially he sees it as unfair that other people can afford these books and he can't. so whatever he wants he should be able to have. rather narcissistic few. i did walk around thinking, god,
6:18 pm
what would it be like to just think that. you know, i would really like that airplane. i can't afford it. the other part of the question, how does he do it. you know, he used credit card fraud. he worked at saks fifth avenue. they hired him repeatedly, even after he got out of prison. and he would -- [laughter] he would harvest receipts 5-10 a week at once. and also that was when -- this was the mid-'90's when he started doing this when you could get the whole number on the credit card receipt. he would be approached by customers who wanted to fill out an application with a credit card. once they filled out the
6:19 pm
application there he had all the information, the billing address, the names and other credit-card numbers. he would take them at lunch, go copy down all the information, returned to work, give the paperback, and hold on to them for a while, and use them later. so it was all through credit card fraud. occasionally he would use bad checks, but mostly credit card. >> i am very curious if you ever felt the desire to start collecting books where you were writing this story yourself, and if you have, what book did you want to buy? >> you know, i thought that collecting books would hit me. i already love old books. i go to yard sales and flea markets a lot. i love finding old interesting objects, preferably with some history behind. thinking back on it, when my children were small about them all the picture books that were not valuable, but really beautiful. i picked up a couple of books of poetry, i had not even heard of the writers. i just love the bindings.
6:20 pm
i didn't -- it didn't hit me. i think that there is something different about the collector. i have become aware of certain books that are very valuable, so i will keep my eye out for those occasionally. but, no, i didn't actually get that bug. it seems to hit some people and not others. will we'll go up there. >> i am interested in your process as a writer. you said that this was really a new area for you, and i am wondering how much research you did prior to the feeling comfortable test interview these people or whether that was immediate for you and how long from finding out about this, that first sparked to the completion of its, the completion of sort of a first draft was this experience for you? >> okay. i had not done a book before.
6:21 pm
i had not done this type of project. i interviewed people a lot. it actually came quite naturally. i was so curious about what motivated john gilkey that it was quite easy. he was so willing to share his story. he taught me almost everything. everything but where the books are hidden. so that can quite easily. i found the story in that spring of 2005 and interviewed gilkey in may. then in the fall i wrote a magazine article about it, which gilkey read and enjoyed very much. much to my relief. and then it just continued. acting my curious to really made it easy. i really wanted to know more about the story. and the collectors and dealers to have met with i just loved interviewing because they are all interesting people who left books. i appreciated what they were doing, and they all -- you know
6:22 pm
what, they are all great storytellers. this is what was really fascinating. the first time i went to a rare book fair it was indy york. it was that spring. i just knew this was a great story read from the start. i booked tickets to get to new york to this fair. i urge all of you to get to the san francisco rare book fair. it is the biggest one in the world. it is like walking into a museum where everything has a price tag. it is amazing that you can hold these items and sometimes by them. when i was at that book fair in new york i had a small but book i had brought, and i've wanted to just ask people, what were the books that there were selling. i wanted to learn about the business and collecting. i also wanted to learn about thefts. every single dealer i want to have so many stories. i ran have a space. abbas crabbing spare pieces of paper everywhere. i remember, there was only one curmudgeon i ran into.
6:23 pm
about half the day was done and he saw me what i k by with my te recorder and my notebook and he said, isn't this really boring. every single person told me some really exciting story of theft. so they are great storytellers. they made it easy for me. . [inaudible question] can you go up to the microphone, please. >> talk a little bit about your relationship with gilkey. what the relationship was. was it just that he was so narcissistic? how did you develop a rapport with him? what was it like?
6:24 pm
>> sure. he was also very easy to speak with. when i first met with him in prison i was very nervous. i had never been inside a prison before. i had no idea what to expect. because i knew he had denied having stolen the books in court i thought he might be a little belligerent or angry. i did not know. it did not help that they kept me waiting for two hours. he was so open about this story. it really made it quite easy to talk to him. i had never spent time with an ex-convict before or somebody who, to my knowledge, was committing crimes a lot. [laughter] so, you know, i think in the beginning it was of little awkward for me, and i was nervous and did not know what to expect. we got into a rhythm of, you know, a pattern of talking about what books he was reading, what research she was doing, and what may have happened in the last week or so. for a while we were making every weekend at a cafe in union square, and then he would be a way, as you would say it in
6:25 pm
prison. across the bay, san quentin. [laughter] >> do you think this whole process. >> i suppose. i also think people like sharing their stories. if somebody comes up to you and says, you're fascinating and tell me your story, which i did feel about him. people like to tell the stories. i think for somebody who is in love with books as john gilkey is it must have been especially exciting to know that his story would end up in a book one day. can you come up? >> did you ever find out, does he steal other things? did he ever talk about that? >> he did. yeah. you know, most collectors, i read about collecting a bit, the psychology of collecting.
6:26 pm
most collectors don't just to collect one thing. they usually have a focus. for gilkey it was undeniably books, but he would occasionally get baseball cards or crystal. a few other things. that was really just a sideline. it was mostly books. that is really his true love. movie posters he would mention every once in awhile also. i got a book or i got a movie poster, he would say. i knew what that meant. >> how old was he when he stole his first book? and where was it, and what book was it? >> he went to his book fair, first book fair in 1997, so he was 29. is that right? yeah. and he used bad checks to buy a couple of books that aren't that
6:27 pm
valuable. maybe 150 to $100. something important happened. he picked up a catalog. leafing through that catalog after he realized this is what i want. for it is the books. this is what i really want to have. he picked out "lolita." he found it disgusting he told me. [laughter] he does have some morals. >> did you ever have trepidation about continuing? did you get nervous when you had spent time with him because he is obviously a repeat criminal? did you ever worry that he would be questioned as an accessory or someone who knew what he was up to? i mean, did that come into it?
6:28 pm
>> i did get nervous. after we had not been meeting for several months he started confessing crimes today, book theft that nobody else knew about which put me in a very thorny position ethically, if not legally. so i did consult a couple of attorneys about this. i did not have to worry about anything legally. it did -- i think the harder part for me was i really wanted to remain objective in this story, and i had been pulled into it. so this is something that happened throughout the research. it is not even objectivity so much as influence, i think, that was an issue. something i think that journalists should talk about more is their enfluence on the subject. scientists talk about the observer. i think happens more
6:29 pm
if you follow some the around with a paper and pen they will act differently. so that was something that i struggled with. i did not want to influence his actions, especially towards the end of the book. when he starts proposing ideas for new crimes to me in order to make the narrative more dramatic. [laughter] i said i'm not going to answer that question. so we do -- as journalists we do affect the outcomes of those we are speaking with and the words of those we are speaking with. so that was a struggle throughout. >> i am kind of curious about the cycle of going to prison and being released. and generally we think of prison as a deterrent. what did he say -- although, apparently he doesn't. what did he say about those experiences? did he express dread of getting caught and going back?
6:30 pm
that is one question. the other one is, did he propose any end to this cycle of collecting? is there something so wonderful, so high and precious that if he got that he would be satisfied? is it just an endless search? >> i think it is endless. he would say many times i am not going to collect any more, but did i tell you about this really great book. he would go back and forth. it is clear as much as he would like to give it up, he can't. you would think that prison would be a deterrent. for somebody who believes that he is never going to get caught again, he is not going to make the same mistake again it doesn't work. i think he just believes that this time it won't happen.
6:31 pm
the detective, is a big part of the book. when i first called him i started taking notes and i wanted to set up a time to meet with them and speak at length about his story at some point i put my pants down and listen because he is this natural born storyteller from a very colorful, articulate, funny guy and it was a death to running
6:32 pm
into the sky. so i have great admiration for what he did. he was working in a volunteer position for a few years for the antiquarian booksellers association of america, and in this position when his colleagues would have a bookstore when they would notify sanders and he would alert the trade, first edition on the road, keep your eyes out for it because usually what happens is if people still book they go across town and sell it to another and say i just inherited this and i need some money. so the sooner that everybody finds out about the better they have a chance of catching a thief and he did this, he put some much time and effort into this and really became his focus and his business offers for its. in a dash to the more he saw these thefts happening, the guilt and he didn't know if it was one man or a gang of people
6:33 pm
or whatever -- the more obsessed to became. in a way that is what this story is about also, is about the passions that people have and how we justify our pursuit of them. gilkey and stealing, sanders playing detective, in the following this story. so he was great to work with all the time. he could be a little prickly, the man was very strong opinion about what's right and wrong and sometimes we disagreed. i think often he didn't like the idea to get back to an earlier question -- he didn't like the idea of my talking to gilkey at all. >> i don't really know about chargeback brown as a writer so i'm curious about how you started out, if this is your first book and were you looking
6:34 pm
for a topic that was large enough and had and that death for a book or had you not consider that? thinking more in terms of short pieces. i'm interested in your evolution as a writer. >> it was a second career for me. i did a lot of things before that but when my kids agree on i took a little bit of time often thought if i'm going to go back to work and going to do something i love and i'd always done a little writing so i started taking classis. i started writing for a small neighborhood papers and worked my way up to national magazines and rode on any subject that interested me, if i heard an interesting story i would pursue it. and then i got a little tired of the freelancing and tried to pitch stories constantly and i did want to find something that was worthy of a long piece of narrative nonfiction. and a friend of mine -- i tend
6:35 pm
to be drawn to the arts and sciences, ideas and discoveries in things like that and i would meet with a friend of mine and go over ideas and to send what ever you do find interesting characters. that's why you need. i thought makes it so much harder. because it is tough to meet with people regularly and find people who are willing to talk to you and so on but that was in the back of my mind when i just stumbled on the store and i thought this is that. any other questions klaxon >> this is it exactly about the book, but from the intro did you ever find out where malcolm's volume came from actually and what became of it? >> well, i called the library broadway that was mentioned in the notes, and there was a call number on the book actually and i gave him the call number and a
6:36 pm
thorough description of the book and a librarian said i don't see anything, let me get back to you in a few days. she lived through all the records and wrote me back and said we have no record of having an facebook. now that i know what happens, if a book is been stolen and been missing for several years off and the librarians will end up just throwing away the attended documents because it's not going to come back and they don't want to have to tell people that it's missing. that may have happened in that library or maybe it was from another library, i don't know. >> [inaudible] >> the book is still with malcolm. he's tried to figure out what to do with it and it's a book that really casts a spell on you. we don't know where it came from. we have to figure out where it belongs. >> did you ever see where he lived personally?
6:37 pm
>> john gilkey, no. >> i'm just curious if this house reflected his vision of what he wanted to be, and sort of building toward that in his house or was he just ramshackle the with cardboard boxes? >> i did visit his childhood home or he lived some of the time out in modesto. i interviewed his mother shortly before she died, his mother and his sister, and spent the day out there. and that was very interesting. it's funny, when i had originally asked gilkey if collecting from his family -- iran and his family, his grandmother had collected some silver in his father's family i think had a few books, but he said it my parents have a lot of books but that's it. i walked into the house and it was just chockablock with collections. [laughter] everything -- china, fabrics, candlesticks, wood objects from
6:38 pm
-- his mother was from the philippines originally. she probably have 50 different collections, but i think he wasn't being deceitful. i just think he grew up with this. he did not notice and didn't think of them as collections per cent. so that was where he grew up. he tends to live as far as i know, the only places he said were motels in san francisco, very cheap motels. so it's very much a fantasy of having the grand library. he doesn't live like that now. >> around your research did you ever interview or feel compelled to interview the prison system about their rehabilitation methods? [laughter] >> that's a good question. no, i didn't appear in
6:39 pm
i think he was probably the least of their worries. a book thief in prison, not a big problem. i often wonder how he survived, you know, if he made up stories. yeah, i killed somebody. and he was often -- the times then i met with him in prison he was in the high security areas always so i never to bring a tape recorder in, could never meet with them face to face, we were zero separate by the plexiglass in the phone booth. the way the prison system works he would often be move from one prison to another depending on space and all is the prisoners have to go through a time -- i don't know, some matter of months or they get cleared for less security but he always seemed to be in the highest security. so he and all the rapists and murderers.
6:40 pm
>> how has he responded to the book? i assume he has read it. >> he has not. he is eager to see its. i told him i wanted to mail him a copy but he said he didn't have an address right now to mail it to. but he did e-mail me a couple days ago saying congratulations, the book is almost out so he is eager to see it to end i am eager to hear what his response is. he did like the article i wrote about him about six months after we started meeting. but i don't know what he will think of the book. >> [inaudible] >> hello, john. [laughter] he may come i don't know. >> [inaudible] >> as far as i can tell as a child he had no friends. he had seven siblings, a big family, but he said he didn't really hang out with any friends, he stayed at home.
6:41 pm
and even high school, i could never get the name of a friend had of him and i think that's changing though. now that he is studying and again he seems to be making some friends with people at school, but i think this is a first of his life as far as for what he told me. anything else? well, thank you all. this was great. [applause] >> allison bartlett network has been in "the new york times", the washington post and other publications. for more information and visit >> that united states holocaust museum has undertaken research project and it is in book form. this is volume one of the
6:42 pm
research project. jeff is the editor, what is this project? >> this is an encyclopedia of all the different camps and get those that determines during the nazi time in all of their allies. >> and how many have you found? >> we have found it within the volumes we're going to have about 20,000. >> 20,000 camps of. >> yes we were surprised by the number. when i came on board in 2000 the people who have treated the project historians themselves had estimated that there were about five to 7,000 sites that we would be looking at and this turned out to be one of those instances in which a lot of different people around the world had been doing research in their quarters and nobody ever put the numbers together. so when we started looking into secondary sources and contacting historians and finding out about the different categories of camps the numbers started to build a and with that about four years or up to 20,000.
6:43 pm
>> what are the different categories? >> the concentration camps the names that people know plus of the minisub campsite around them. and that is what this first volume deals with a large parts. each of those places have something like 124 sub cancer associated with it and places where the prisoners stayed and worked. and then the other big categories would be a prisoner of war camps and forced labor camps and in ghettos. >> what are some examples of a forced labor camp? >> in addition to the concentration camps which were more or less in punitive in nature, the germans also bought millions of people into nazi germany simply to support the war economy. and they weren't being punished. >> non-jewish necessarily. >> usually not jewish, the jews were put into a separate system. in with the forced labor camps
6:44 pm
for strictly to support the war economy to allow germany to manufacture the arms needed to fight the war. >> and you also talked about p.o.w. camps. >> yes. >> those are chronicled in these encyclopedia also. >> they will be yes. >> how many of those heavy found so far? >> we are looking about a thousand imena p.o.w. camps, the camps also had some of the camps and the numbers there are astounding and beyond our ability to cover them in the encyclopedia. >> he mentioned balckout, how is it developed that it would have 124 camps? >> this was a function mostly of the war economy. some of the concentration in camps were originally created in part to serve economic ends, there was a quarry near by. for mining stone, koreans still
6:45 pm
on that would be used in the grand architecture that hipaa was planning for berlin, for example. but over time especially as it got into 43 and even more sour and 44 as the war economy needed more and more, the ss that randy's camp started to farm out their prisoners, rented out literally to man -- military industrials and they decided quickly the most efficient way was two actually have camps at the work sites so these systems of camps developed from their. >> about how many people do you estimate were processed through the 20,000 camps? >> we don't really have an overall estimate. there were at the height of the concentration camp system about 750,000 people, that would have been at the beginning of 45 before they started having to retreat and evacuate a lot of them.
6:46 pm
of course, that's not the total number that went through their. that would probably total i'm guessing here to some extent but at least a couple million, probably more than that. there were something like 10 million forced laborers in germany if i recall correctly. p.o.w.'s probably is similar number so you are looking at tens of millions of people. >> how did the system developed? how did the germans developed the system? was it done by one bureaucracy or wasn't two sporadic? >> no, i use the word system as well for lack of anything better, but strictly speaking you couldn't call it a system. each set of camps developed more or less on its own. the first volume of the encyclopedia covers the early camps, about a hundred of those that developed in the first few months after the nazis came to power. and then from those the concentration camps involved in so this was the sort of punitive
6:47 pm
side purell p.o.w. camps, of course, for a normal part of fighting a war and forced labor camps came into play as the war economy got going and started running out of workers and then there for all kinds of very specialized smaller categories of camps for their own special purposes. >> but nobody in charge say in berlin who is in charge of setting this up? >> know, run by david barack receives and, as a matter of fact, i think it was in a sense part of a nazi system for each pair proceed to want to have its own camps, this was -- we don't have firm evidence of this but i think this was something that for a lot of not the bureaucrats indicated that they have power. i have my own body of prisoners here that i control, my own purpose for which i have camps. >> what were the first camps at the develops -- that the nazis developed. >> these are what historians call the early camps. there were developed on an ad hoc basis by local authorities,
6:48 pm
it was brown shirts, the ss or the local police, to handle political prisoners. communists and socialists especially at the beginning. people that the nazis considered to be archenemies and that they were determined to eliminate. they didn't eliminate most of them physically but put them into these camps and tortured them and put them to work and more are less make sure that they were not going to be active members of the political scene anymore. >> where does the 1942 final solution meeting fit into the -- did into this? did that develop more camps? >> i don't believe that the conference developed more camps directly. this was really in implementation meeting. the decision for the final solution had been made, i think most historians agree on that, and there were already one kampen operation, and others coming on-line, talking about
6:49 pm
extermination centers now. that were designed solely for the purpose of killing people. the conference was in the right security main office, the opportunity to get these other bureaucrats together from different ministries within the government and say i'm in charge of this effort to wipe out the jews and you all have to follow and line and so this meeting is to sort out any bureaucratic obstacles to that. >> what have you discovered about life in these camps? and at the various levels? >> it carried. in varied and think more than most people realize. if you were in english or an american prisoner of war, you were to some extent at the top of a hierarchy. the nazis did not consider you to be racially dangerous. you were as close to quote on quote aryans as anyone was going to get.
6:50 pm
and also the nazis feared to some extent that treatment to their own p.o.w.'s might be negative if they mistreated americans and britons a put those together and those prisoners fare relatively well, i want to emphasize relatively. to some people were abused horribly, some people were separated and put into concentration camps. most of them received a red cross parcels. through most of the war. they did all, right. at the other end of the spectrum, even just within the p.o.w. community, if you look at soviet p.o.w.'s the germans captured about three and a third soviet p.o.w.'s in the first year of the war. >> three of zero 1/3 million. >> about two and 1/3 million were dead by the spring of 1942. several hundred thousand of them shot out right because they for communists or jews. more of them killed through forced labor and starvation,
6:51 pm
exposure, disease, simply being neglected. so that was the other end of the p.o.w. spectrum. you go further than that with the jews in the extermination centers who were simply brought there and killed. >> , the extermination centers have you discovered? >> we can't six. because we have this narrow definition of extermination center, that his primary purpose was to kill. and we avoid the term death camps for example because beckett's applied to a lot of places where a lot of people died in conditions were horrible, but the purpose was not primarily to kill people. so we count auschwitz, treblinka , and others -- not dachau. dachau was a concentration camp. >> really? and who was in the dachau? >> political prisoners at first. this was the first of the ss
6:52 pm
concentration camps, treated along with the early camps in the very beginning in 1933. and then when the ss took over the early camps in the 34 and 35 at the close most of them down and kept dachau open, dachau became one of the model camps. held political prisoners at first but then increasingly all of the different groups that the germans brought into their concentration camp system, almost -- homosexuals, political prisoners from resistance fighters, anyone who tried to buck the system really could become a concentration camp prisoners. >> and you also talk about the different data as -- ghettos. how many of those to you discover? >> we define a ghettos for the purposes of the encyclopedia we have had to be using a rather practical approach to red, ghettos is where do jews were concentrated, usually in
6:53 pm
existing jewish neighborhood or some part of the city or town prior two their murder. they were again created on sort of an ad hoc basis and as the germans advance eastward starting in 1940 and poland but especially as they advance in the 17 in 1941, they needed to do something with all of these jews. they were sure quite what they were going to do with them in the and yet to, but and then meantime they need to concentrate them and the surge really three purposes. it concentrated them, kept them under control, they were not given a whole lot in terms of food or medical care so a lot of them were killed off in that way. several i think at 1.2 million or so that within the ghettos. >> keeping them under control and killing them off was the
6:54 pm
main thing but also allow them to work for the german war economy to some extent. >> how many have discovered? >> about 1200 ghettos. >> how did you do this research? >> we have not done all that much of it. we depend largely on outside contributors. saying that, there was about 30 percent of this first to volume that we had to ratter sells mostly from secondary sources from published sources and that proportion will probably increase as we go along because most of these categories have not been as thoroughly researched. we have right now three or four people who are working for us who are writing and trees are doing research for entries. it's not a huge team to be doing something of the scale, but over time we are able to manage it to. but for the most part we depend on local experts. with volume one for instance with auschwitz, we had people in
6:55 pm
the memorial site in the museum's there who volunteered to read all of the camp entries for those places. in other instances when i've come across someone who knew about one camp and he or she had made it that his or her particular study, they knew all about and and they could read that one entry for yes. >> how long would an end to be? >> for a main concentration camp we are looking at about 2500 words. not a lot, that's about 10 double spaced pages. and obviously covering in place like buchenwald or auschwitz and that amount of space is ludicrous in one sense, but we know this is not the main source that people will go to four camps like that. with the sub camps the entries for about half that link, to 50 words. we could get enough information for them. the sub camps for for the less well known, the places that are important for us to document because information on them is
6:56 pm
just not available anywhere else in this service for one thing to document the suffering of the people who were there and the survivors who have been very impressed we been able to do this for them. it also is a big slab in the face to the deniers as well, it's part of the job i particularly enjoy. >> geoffrey megargee is the editor of these first -- this first volume part one into. how many volumes will be coming out? >> seven. >> seven total. >> in the specific volume is about that is out now is about? >> the subject matter? this covers the early concentration camps that i talked about and the main concentration camp system, the big names and their sub caps. >> what about the future volumes? >> there are organized by types
6:57 pm
of cans, that would give people the opportunity to see with the system was like inasmuch as there was one so volume to orval covered german camps and volume three by the german military, volume for camps run by germany's allies, and satellite states, five will deal with another set up camps under another branch of the ss, six will deal with forced labor camps not under the ss run by private firms and other government organizations, and seven will be sort of a catchall things that didn't fit in anywhere else. >> for the folks who did a lot of your research, did they find things anything in the german archives? >> yes especially most of the information. >> is a well documented in these camps? >> it depends but generally ask. >> what kind of documents which you find? >> we would have a document setting of the camps, and
6:58 pm
documents testifying to was then there, how many people, what kind of prisoners, what kind of work things of that nature, and then we have also presented testimony of what life was like in the camps. what kind of treatment they received. people who were killed in that sort of thing. >> what is your goal with these encyclopedias? >> is to fold -- one to provide basic information about as many of these places as we possibly can and so we have a series of research questions that we ask each of our contributors to try to answer. what kind of prisoners were there, how many, who ran the place, who guarded it, what was its purpose, what can work was done and for whom, what companies, how did people live, how did people died, were their trials of campers and now after the war and all that sort of thing. so that is one rule. the other goal is to provide a foundation for further research and so each of these entries as
6:59 pm
a source section, that discusses where the author found the information that is in here. it serves as a starting point for anyone who wants to try to continue on it and as you can see we also have footnotes to particularly important points within each entry. >> how long have you been working on this project? >> almost 10 years in january. >> and what is -- how much longer will you go? >> we're hoping to get the whole thing done by 2018. we've been working on various volumes in tandem so about two years away from bringing volume to out and we hope every two years after that to come out with another one. >> would you think once these? >> well, the people who will purchase them will be the libraries, it's expensive. not something an ordinary person will normally go out and buy although i have talked to some folks who want them -- scholars who need these kind of reference works and will buy them themselves. >> t


info Stream Only

Uploaded by TV Archive on