The i Tetralogy
Mathias B. Freese

By Alyce Wilson

More than half a century after the end of World War II, when hundreds of books have been written and movies made about the horrors of the Holocaust, why should you read The i Tetralogy, a book that delves into the psychologically crippling world of the concentration camp? Because you have never read anything like this.

In The i Tetralogy, author and psychotherapist Mathias Freese provides a deeply subjective view of life in a concentration camp, first in the voice of an unnamed prisoner, then in the voice of one of the guards. Thus, it provides an unflinching view of the brutality and degradation inside those camps, and how it might have affected both those who were sent to them, as well as those who served as guards.

The book doesn't stop there. It examines the pathology of modern civilization, examining the Freudian subtext of the relationship between oppressed and oppressor.

This is not light reading; it is, indeed, disturbing. A more mainstream work, the film The Pianist by director Roman Polanski, himself a World War II Holocaust survivor, is quiet and poetic by comparison. Polanski said he found it important not to exaggerate details but, instead, to show them as he and other survivors remembered them.

Freese, however, is not a survivor of the Holocaust, so in a Q&A appendix to the book, he addresses some of the questions his work has raised. He defends his use of harsh language and unrelenting detail, writing, "The litany of horrors was substantiated by the Nuremberg War Crimes Tribunal and has been recited by world-class scholars and historians ever since." Confronting the ugliness, he feels, is the best way to heal. He adds that he writes about the Holocaust, because "I want to understand why people do what they do, sometimes in such horrific ways."

Freese worries that we will grow so familiar with these stories that we will no longer hear them. Just think of how lightly the term "Nazi" is bandied about in pop culture, and you'll understand.

While it's become a cliché to call a work haunting, this book will stay with you. Reading this book, you feel as if you have entered the minds of the people involved in this tragedy, and witnessed through them the impact of those events, not just for Holocaust survivors but for all of society, today and into the future.

The i Tetralogy excoriates the vicious reality of the Holocaust, refusing to temper it with the dreaminess of time, much as if you were treating a pernicious form of cancer. In order to heal, you cannot simply hope the cancer will heal; you must identify the scope of the problem and then surgically remove it. If we do not confront the horror of the Holocaust, if we do not face up to its reality, we cannot remove that cancer, and it will only linger and grow.

Rating: **** (Must Read) (Beware of explicit violence and sexuality)

Hats Off Books, 2005: ISBN 1-58736-404-2