Sorry! This site requires JavaScript. Virtually nothing will work without it. Please enable it in your browser.

Scheisshaus Luck

In 1943, eighteen year old Pierre Berg picked the wrong time to visit a friend’s house—at the same time as the Gestapo. He was thrown into the infamous Auschwitz concentration camp. But through a mixture of savvy and chance, he man­aged to survive...and ultimately got out alive. “As far as I’m concerned,” says Berg, “it was all shithouse luck, which is to say—inelegantly—that I kept landing on the right side of the randomness of life.”

Such begins the first memoir of a French gentile Holocaust survivor published in the U.S. Originally penned shortly after the war when memories were still fresh, Scheisshaus Luck re­counts Berg’s constant struggle in the camps, escaping death countless times while enduring inhumane conditions, exhaustive labor, and near starvation. The book takes readers through Berg’s time in Auschwitz, his hair’s breadth avoid­ance of Allied bombing raids, his harrowing “death march” out of Auschwitz to Dora, a slave labor camp (only to be placed in another forced labor camp manufacturing the Nazis’ V1 & V2 rockets), and his eventual daring escape in the middle of a pitched battle between Nazi and Red Army forces.

Utterly frank and tinged with irony, irreverence, and gallows humor, Scheisshaus Luck ranks in importance among the work of fellow survivors Elie Wiesel and Primo Levi. As we quickly approach the day when there will be no living eyewitnesses to the Nazi's “Final Solution,” Berg's memoir stands as a searing reminder of how the Holocaust affected us all.

Reviews -

“A harrowing story….A worthy supplement to the reports of Primo Levi and Elie Wiesel.” -- Kirkus Reviews

His memoir is one of the few available in English by a gentile inmate of Auschwitz and an even rarer chronicle of experiences at the Dora plant. His insight into the workings of the Auschwitz black-market system and the relationship of the Kapos (camp trustees) to political and religious prisoners helps illuminate the corrupting effect of Nazi brutality on prisoners. Berg's personal journey—from the emotional upheaval of being caught in a German sweep in Nice to the gradual deadening of his emotions as he struggled to survive among the worst concentration camps—is compelling reading…. Highly recommended.” -- Library Journal

“It is the melding of the merry and the ghastly that sets this one apart from so many of the other Holocaust books I’ve come across. Mixed with the brutal working conditions, the random acts of violence, the routine beatings, the casual murders… there come moments of wonder, even beauty.” -- Ralph Magazine

“As you turn every page, you’ll find yourself immersing into Pierre’s memory, as if he was telling the story only to you… probably the best gentile memoir ever written, making it a vital part of Holocaust literature, and a classic tale as well.” -- The Manila Times

"This is a fascinating story of survival against the worst of odds." -- JT News

Important places

Auschwitz (105)


Lesser Poland (155)


Poland (895)

Other geographical areas

Tatra Mountains (7)
Carpathian Mountains (245)
Eastern Europe (2,710)