Saturday, August 6, 2011

Surviving the Angel of Death: The Story of a Mengele Twin in Auschwitz – by Eva Mozes Kor and Lisa Rojany Buccieri

Surviving the Angel of Death: The Story of a Mengele Twin in Auschwitz is adapted from Eva Mozes Kor's self-published memoir, Echoes From Auschwitz: Dr. Mengele's Twins, The Story Of Eva And Miriam Mozes. This first-person account is intended for readers in grade six and up. Currently available in hardcover, the paperback edition will be released in October 2011

On January 31, 1934, Eva and Miriam Mozes entered the world as identical twin sisters. The twin girls, along with their parents and older sisters Edit and Aliz, lived in the village of Portz in Transylvania, Romania. As the only Jewish family in the community, they increasingly became more and more aware of the growing anti-Semitism pervading the culture. When Eva and her sister began school in 1940, two new teachers were brought into the city by the Nazis. With them, they brought books containing caricatures of Jews and propaganda films. Their classmates began to see them as “Dirty Jews” and turned against them. Things progressively got worse until finally, in 1943, their father decided it was time to try to leave their home and escape to the safety of Romania. Unfortunately, they were too late. The Hungarian Nazi youth had been stationed outside their home to make sure they did not escape.

The year that Eva and Miriam turned ten, they, along with the rest of their family, were transported in a cattle car to Auschwitz. Dressed identically since birth, the girls were quickly identified in their matching dresses. With a flick of Dr. Mengele’s baton, they were separated from the rest of their family. Because they were identical twins, they were of particular interest to Dr. Mengele. Dr. Mengele wanted to learn how to create perfect Aryan babies and interred twins, along with giants, dwarfs, the handicapped and gypsies became his human guinea pigs. Eva, the stronger of the twins in spirit, refused to give in to the Nazis. She realized from the beginning that she must survive so that her sister is able to survive. Subjected to horrific experiments and left for dead, Eva will not let her sister down. They will survive Auschwitz together.

In the epilogue, we learn that Eva has forgiven Dr. Mengele. She explains that anger and hatred are seeds of war, while forgiveness is the seed for peace. 1n 1984, Eva and her sister Miriam founded CANDLES (Children of Auschwitz Nazi Deadly Lab Experiments Survivors).

I feel that this book is truly remarkable. The atrocities of WWII are difficult to explain to younger individuals, but the particular atrocities of Dr. Mengele are that much more difficult. The authors did an amazing job at toning down the subject matter enough to allow a younger audience to learn from Eva’s experience. I read this book with my 10-year-old daughter and although some parts of the book brought tears of sadness to both our eyes, we also shed tears of relief and admiration for this amazing woman and her sister. Although I’ve read many other books about WWII, I still learned from this book, as did my daughter.


Bookish Hobbit said...

I read a remarkable book about Mengele and the twins called Children of the Flames.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the review. I hadn't heard of this book, but it sound interesting. I am always looking for good children's books.

Dru said...

Nice website.

Linda said...

Your review sounds interesting, I am afraid to read the book, because it sounds like a tear-jerker for sure!


Heidi said...

It is such a great book. I hope you don't let the "fear of tears" hold you back. I cried more tears of admiration for this incredible woman than I did tears of sadness. It's so worth the read.