In Surviving the Angel of Death: The Story of a Mengele Twin in Auschwitz, author and Holocaust survivor Eva Kor details her life with her twin sister Miriam in Auschwitz, the home of the infamous “Dr.” Mengele. In 1944, at only 10 years of age, Eva and Miriam were ripped from their home, taken to a ghetto, then to a camp, then forced into a cattle car, taken on a seventy-hour train trip with no food or water, and ultimately arrived at the selection platform at Auschwitz. Once on the platform Eva and Miriam desperately held their mother’s hand. Their father and two older sisters were lost in the crowd. She and Miriam were then immediately separated from their mother, never to see her their father or their two older sisters again. Singled out by Mengele himself, she and her sister were spared because they were twins. Mengele was fascinated by twins and conducted heinous medical experiments on them.
This is a shorter version of Ms. Kor’s biography, Echoes from Auschwitz: Dr. Mengele’s Twins: The Story of Eva and Miriam Mozes (1995). It is for Teen/Young Adult readers, but I recommend it for everyone and I hope that schools will include this book on their lists of required reading. None of the horrific medical experiments are detailed, but this does not take anything away from the fear, desolation, terror, and atrocities that these young girls faced as the Nazis came to power and then in the death camp.
The story is heartbreaking and yet heartwarming. The strength and determination of 10-year-old Eva to keep her sister alive in the most desperate and intolerable of conditions exceed that of most adults. There have been thousands of books written about the Holocaust. In this book, the reader is given a first-person narrative of life as a Jewish girl before the war, during the war, and after the war. Ms. Kor shares her life in the tiny village of Portz in Romania and the burgeoning discrimination and hatred of Jews prior to her imprisonment, then her life under a communist regime, and finally her arrival in Israel.
How can a story of such evil be heartwarming? Because Ms. Kor, after suffering and losing so much, showed unbelievable compassion and her characteristic strength when, fifty years after the liberation of Auschwitz, she stood where she had stood as a ten year old and publicly forgave Mengele. In doing so, she freed herself from being a victim. As unimaginable as it may be, this is not only a story of the atrocities and evil of the Nazis, but also a story of strength, hope and forgiveness.
– Reviewed by Karen Mitchell
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Surviving the Angel of Death: The Story of a Mengele Twin in Auschwitz was written by Eva Mozes Kor and Lisa Rojany Buccieri.
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