Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Surviving the Angel of Death

With each Holocaust book I read, I am always amazed by the many, many perspectives shared from various groups of people and backgrounds who experienced this tragic time period. Surving the Angel of Death: The Story of a Mengele Twin in Auschwitz by Eva Kor and Lisa Rojany Buccieri is another memoir of the Holocaust experience, narrated by a survivor of Josef Mendele's experiments. Eva and her twin sister Miriam, along with two older sisters and her parents were living in Transylvania during the beginning of Hitler's rule. Given an opportunity to leave the country and find safety, Eva's mother opted to stay put, ending her family's chances to find flee before it was too late. As happened to so many other Jewish families, Eva and her family were transported to Auschwitz where they were seperated from each other. Because Eva and Miriam were twins, they were selected to be a part of Mendele's research projects as he studied the effects of some of his experiments on twin subjects. While I have read other accounts of life in Auschwitz, hearing Eva's story was still interesting and amazing. Despite her youth, she and her sister were able to survive after having been separated from their parents. Eva was the leader of the two girls, and had a strong will to survive. She recalls making a conscious decision to work hard for her survival and planned to leave the concentration camp alive with Miriam. However, despite Eva's own determination, luck also played a part in her survival. Mendele conducted experiments on twins, injecting one twin with a deadly virus, while leaving the other twin alone. Then he was able to study the effects of the disease on both twins - the one who died of sickness, and the healthy one who was killed to provide further research of an identical body. While Eva was once injected with a virus which was intended to kill her, she miraculously recovered, and she and Miriam continued to live at Auschwitz until the war ended.

Eva recounts what happened to them after the war, their search for their family and the homes they made in various countries. Eva continues to speak and write about her experiences and started an organization for the many children who survived life as one of Mengele's test subjects.

This memoir was uplifting, yet horrifying. That any child should have to endure the suffering that Eva and Miriam experienced continues to sadden me, no matter how many Holocaust memoirs I read.

Kor's determination to survive and her ability to move forward after losing nearly her entire family is inspiring as is her desire to use her experiences to benefit others.


Bibliophile By the Sea said...

This sounds like a tough but worthwhile read.

Anna said...

I'm adding this to my to-read list. I read the twins' stories in Children of the Flames, but was told by the son of one of the survivors that the book wasn't completely accurate. He recommended this one instead.

I'll link to your review on the WWII book reviews page on War Through the Generations.