Citizen 865 is a powerful, important book by Debbie Cenziper, a Pulitzer Prize–winning journalist. It could earn her a second prize. It is serious journalism at its best. Citizen 865 reads like a fast-paced mystery novel. But it is not fiction. It is all true ... Cenziper brilliantly retells the story of how lawyers and historians unraveled [Reimer's] lies, with the help of some survivors of Reimer’s atrocities ... The story of Feliks and Lucyna puts a human face to the horrors of the Holocaust, even as we stand in awe of their strength, wits, and good luck in surviving ... This powerful book reminds us that hateful jargon and slogans can lead to murder and genocide. But it is also a hopeful book about the power of knowing history and the rule of law.
Cenziper provides stunning insights into these Nazi hunters’ skill, accomplishments, and dedication. She retraces their steps, giving us two layers of investigation. We learn how these professionals went about their work, interpreted the law, and prevailed in their cases. We also learn quite a bit about how Cenziper did her own investigation of the investigators, making the case for our appreciation of their efforts ... Passionate, provocative, and artfully constructed, this fully engaging work of deeply humanized scholarship is a fine addition to the literature of the Holocaust and its aftermath. It could very well bring Debbie Cenziper her second Pulitzer.
Cenziper brought her investigative skills to bear on the challenge of retrieving the hard facts, but she also possesses the gift of a storyteller. For that reason, Citizen 865 is a work of nonfiction that reads like a thriller ... a highly significant work of investigation that is eye-opening and heartbreaking. She compels us to confront the crimes of the Trawniki men in a way that burns itself into both memory and history.