A real travel guide for the specialist sub-area of "Holocaust tourism
", covering mostly, but not exclusively, former Nazi concentration camps
. The title is thus narrower that the actual scope of the book, as it also includes details about sites such as Bullenhuser Damm
, the site of Schindler's factory in Krakow
, Eagle's Nest
, the Anne Frank House
, or the House of the Wannsee Conference
(where, somewhat bizarrely, Checkpoint Charlie
is also given a short separate entry, even though this has next to nothing to do with concentration camps or the Holocaust – maybe it's just a reflection of the American perspective of the author who is evidently of US origin).
All the major concentration camps in Germany
, the Netherlands
and the Czech Republic
are covered, as well as the death camps in Poland. In addition, various associated sites (see above) especially in the former German Third Reich get a mention too, sometimes just a representative one or two (e.g. Schloss Hartheim
which stand for all the Nazi euthanasia
What is missing altogether, however, is coverage of relevant sites in countries such as Croatia
) or Ukraine
). And if dark tourism's "most famous non-site" (Williams 2007
, p86) gets a mention, namely the empty site in Berlin
where Hitler's Führerbunker once was, then why not the much more visitable Wolfschanze
? But that only slightly detracts from the overall wide scope of the book. Those who have always only ever thought of Dachau
as "the" concentration camps can certainly broaden their scope of further relevant destinations for such travels enormously by means of this book.
And the focus of the book is indeed decidedly practical – the individual chapters do provide some tightly summarized basic background information, but for the most part it is really practical travel information. And therein lies the main problem with this book: it is too dated. Too many of the sites covered by the book have undergone major overhauls in the meantime; new visitor centres and museums have been added, better transport provided in some places, different opening times apply, and so forth. As a practical
guide, the book has thus lost a significant part of its purpose. Also, its focus on train travel, laudable as it may be (from an environmental point of view at least), misses the mark a little, as the majority of the sites covered are in actual fact visited primarily by people going there by car (so directions for drivers would have been a valuable addition). It really could do with a comprehensive update. The associated website does in fact have a separate update section with revised details e.g. of opening times etc. see: http://www.concentrationcampguide.com/. Yet the overall approach of the book, with hand-drawn maps and focus on minute details of directions (at the expense of descriptions of the sites themselves, or more historical background) still makes it look very dated indeed in this day and age of GPS, sat nav and google maps.