Published: August 6th, 2020
Format: Paperback, Kindle, Audio
Genre: Biography, Autobiography
Welcome to my stop on the blog tour for this moving novel . Thank you to Anne at Random Things Tours for the invitation to take part and Monoray for the gifted copy of the book .
The Nazis spared their lives because they were twins.
In the summer of 1944, Eva Mozes Kor and her family arrived at Auschwitz.
Within thirty minutes, they were separated. Her parents and two older sisters were taken to the gas chambers, while Eva and her twin, Miriam, were herded into the care of the man who became known as the Angel of Death: Dr. Josef Mengele. They were 10 years old.
While twins at Auschwitz were granted the ‘privileges’ of keeping their own clothes and hair, they were also subjected to Mengele’s sadistic medical experiments. They were forced to fight daily for their own survival and many died as a result of the experiments, or from the disease and hunger rife in the concentration camp.
In a narrative told simply, with emotion and astonishing restraint, The Twins of Auschwitz shares the inspirational story of a child’s endurance and survival in the face of truly extraordinary evil.
Also included is an epilogue on Eva’s incredible recovery and her remarkable decision to publicly forgive the Nazis. Through her museum and her lectures, she dedicated her life to giving testimony on the Holocaust, providing a message of hope for people who have suffered, and worked toward goals of forgiveness, peace, and the elimination of hatred and prejudice in the world.
“There are not many children of the Holocaust, much less Mengele twins, who lived to tell their stories. Eva did. And this story is told in her voice, in the first person, as an adult looking back over sixty-five years; to a time when a little girl, clutching at the trembling hand of her identical twin sister, showed up at the gates of horror—and survived.”
Eva and Miriam Mozes were just ten years old when they were herded onto a cattle car with around 100 other Jews and taken to Auschwitz. Upon their arrival the twins are selected for ‘special treatment’ by Dr Josef Mengele – also known as the Angel of Death – who used twins, dwarves, the disabled and Gypsies as human guinea pigs for his experiments.
This is the story of their daily fight to survive in Auschwitz and Eva’s life after the war as an advocate for education and change.
“We were Jews, and we were guilty.”
The Holocaust is one of the times in history I am most fascinated with. My dad has always read about it voraciously and I was definitely influenced by his interest in the subject. Mengele’s experiments are obviously something I’m aware of, but I hadn’t read much about them. Certainly not a first person account. So I knew this was a book I wanted to read as soon as I read the synopsis.
“We never thought they would come to our tiny village.”
The book starts out with how life was for the family before and at the beginning of the war and talks about seeing the rise in anti-semitism amongst not only the government, but in school and among the people they know in their village. Reading about how children were given books talking about killing Jews and how propaganda films such as ‘How To Catch And Kill A Jew’ were shown in school and at the theatre, brought tears to my eyes. I can’t imagine how scary that must have been to a child. One of the things that broke my heart most of all is reading of the family’s missed chances at escape before being sent to Auschwitz, knowing they may have all survived if only they’d been able to flee.
“We shrieked. We cried. We pleaded, our voices lost among the chaos and noise and despair. But no matter how much we cried or how loud we screamed, it did not matter. Because of those matching burgundy dresses, because we were identical twins so easily spotted in the crowd of grimy, exhausted Jewish prisoners, Miriam and I had been chosen. Soon we would come face to face with Josef Mengele, the Nazi doctor known as the Angel of Death… But we did not know that yet. All we knew was that we were abruptly alone. We were only ten years old.
And we never saw Papa, Mama, Edit or Aliz again.”
Eva talks about losing trust in her parents’ ability to protect her and her sisters as the hatred progresses and how she lost any sense of safety. That hit me right in my mother’s heart. I would do ANYTHING to protect my children and couldn’t imagine the pain of not being able to do that and their lives were at risk. I pictured my own children at 10 years of age being all alone in a fight for survival and completely alone. It is unfathomable. I will never understand how people can be so cruel to other humans, especially innocent children.
“At Auschwitz, dying was easy. Surviving was a full-time job.”
Eva is a survivor and shows a quiet strength from the moment she arrives at Auschwitz. That strength continued throughout her life and she was a tiny, but mighty who was promoted Holocaust education and toured giving speeches on the life lessons she had learned, hoping to encourage others to live in kindness rather than hate. She was open about her struggle with anger, hate and bitterness towards not only the Nazis, but her parents, for many years before choosing to forgive. This, along with her advocacy for change, saw her become a controversial figure among survivors, who often misunderstood what that meant. But she stayed true to herself and fought for change until her death in July 2019.
“Anger is a seed for war; forgiveness is a seed for peace.”
Poignant, powerful and lingering, this, like any Holocaust story, is a harrowing read. Dire living conditions, the daily struggle to survive and the cruel experiments that were supposed to kill her are described in detail which, while avoiding being gruesome, are still upsetting. But what stands out is that this is a story of courage, survival and triumph over evil.
MEET THE AUTHOR:
Eva Mozes Kor was a Romanian-born survivor of the Holocaust. Along with her twin sister Miriam, Kor was subjected to human experimentation under the direction of SS Doctor Josef Mengele at the Auschwitz concentration camp in German-occupied Poland during World War II
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