Birds Scream Incessantly. The Story of Günther Niethammer, SS-man and Ornithologist from Auschwitz.
February 29, 2024 (Thursday) at 6 pm
Meeting with book authors: Beata Dżon-Ozimek and Michał Olszewski
Café Bergson, pl. ks. Jana Skarbka 2, Oświęcim
Free admission. The event is held in Polish
Sensitive, educated, attentive – Günther Niethammer has been interested in birds since childhood. He lives in abundance, loves nature and hunting. Focused on his career, he quickly rises to the elite of German scientists. After the Nazis come to power, he does not protest, joining a long line of scientists who get along well with the Hitlerites. He joins the NSDAP, and when the war breaks out, wants to serve in the army. However, he ends up as a guard at KL Auschwitz. Despite the fact that he could have been a priceless witness, he remains silent as the grave after the war.
How is it possible that a sensitive intellectual does not see the tragedy happening behind the barbed wires of the camp? What makes it possible to conduct bird observations with mass extermination behind one’s back? Why doesn’t he say a word about it after the war?
Beata Dżon-Ozimek and Michał Olszewski investigate the biography of Günther Niethammer, along with Polish prisoners and German scientists, revealing the fates of heroes, conformists, and criminals. Birds Scream Incessantly is also a historical investigation into the science that serves murderers.
“A shocking and important book. The authors shed light on the life and work of the renowned ornithologist Günther Niethammer. The esteemed scientist unhesitatingly and without reservations gets drawn into the National Socialist machinery of terror, ready to even serve as a guard at Auschwitz, where he continues his ornithological research as if nothing happened. He was not an isolated case – many German and Austrian researchers acted similarly” (Martin Pollack).
Michał Olszewski (born 1977) – writer, reporter, journalist. Author of books such as Heat, To Amsterdam, Praise the meadowed meadows, Low-tech, and Notes on tickets, and co-author (with Beata Dżon-Ozimek) of the book Birds Scream Incessantly. The Story of Günther Niethammer, SS-man and Ornithologist from Auschwitz (Czarne Publishing House 2023). Recipient of the Ryszard Kapuściński Award for his collection of reportages The Best Shoes in the World. Editor-in-chief of the Krakow edition of Gazeta Wyborcza. In his free time, he watches birds.
Beata Dżon-Ozimek – journalist, television documentary and reportage co-author. Worked for eight years as a correspondent from Austria. Collaborates with the weeklies Przegląd and Angora, and has also published in Gazeta Wyborcza and Focus Historia. Author of the translation of Krystyna Chiger’s autobiographical book The Girl in the Green Sweater, for which she received an award from the Lviv Young Historians Club.