Eva Mozes Kor was 10 years old when she arrived in Auschwitz. While her parents and two older sisters were taken to the gas chambers, she and her twin, Miriam, were herded into the care of the man known as the Angel of Death, Dr. Josef Mengele. Mengele's twins were granted the privileges of keeping their own clothes and hair, but they were also subjected to sadistic medical experiments and forced to fight daily for their own survival, as most of the twins died as a result of the experiments or from the disease and hunger pervasive in the camp. In a narrative told with emotion and restraint, readers will learn of a child's endurance and survival in the face of truly extraordinary evil. The book also includes an epilogue on Eva's recovery from this experience and her remarkable decision to publicly forgive the Nazis. Through her museum and her lectures, she has dedicated her life to giving testimony on the Holocaust, providing a message of hope for people who have suffered, and working toward goals of forgiveness, peace, and the elimination of hatred and prejudice in the world.
Twin sisters, Eva and Miriam, are crammed into a cattle car with their mother, father, and two older sisters, Edit and Aliz. They are from Romania and think they are being taken to Hungary. When the doors open they see the German soldiers and realize they are in Auschwitz in Germany. They thought they were being taken to a Hungarian labour camp to work but now realize they’ve been taken to a concentration camp to die. The twin sisters were pulled away from their family and never saw them again. They were only ten-years-old and born on January 31, 1934 in the village of Portz in Transylvania, Romania. They were a Jewish family and the only Jewish family in their village of Portz.
Adolf Hitler came to power in Germany as the head of the Nazi party in 1933. He hated Jews. In September of 1939, Word War II began when German Nazi troops invaded Poland.
The twin’s mother never believed the Nazi’s would ever come to their tiny village of Portz, but when she heard news broadcasts over the radio that Hitler was killing Jews she began to worry. Then in the fall of 1940 the twins began school and their two new teachers were Hungarian and were sent by the Nazi’s. With them, they brought books that contained slurs against Jews. They were even shown a film titled: “How to Catch and Kill a Jew.” These were known as propaganda films. Their math book even contained a problem that said: “If you had five Jews, and you killed three Jews, how many Jews would be left?” The other students who were all non-Jewish began to call the twins names and beat them up at every opportunity.
The family was taunted endlessly. Late one night in September of 1943, their parents woke the children in the middle of the night and told them to get dressed. They were to wear as many layers of clothing that they possibly could. Their father had determined it was time for them to leave and try to cross over the border to the non-Hungarian side of Romania where they would be safe. When they reached the gate at the back of their property someone shouted: “Stop!” There stood a Hungarian Nazi youth with a gun pointed at them. A group of teenage boys wearing Hungarian Nazi armbands with swastikas on them had been guarding their property to ensure the family didn’t get away. They were marched right back to their house.
In early 1944 two Hungarian policemen came and ordered them to get their belongings because they were going to be transported to a transportation center. They were given two hours to pack. Soon they were on their way to Auschwitz.
Once in Auschwitz two older Jewish twin girls explained to Eva and Miriam what the gas chamber and crematorium was for. Eva and Miriam were terrified and realized then what had happened to their parents and two older sisters. The older twins informed them that the only reason they and everyone else in their barracks were alive was because they were all twins and would be used in “experiments” by Dr. Josef Mengele, also known as the “Angel of Death.”
What Eva and Miriam endured was barbaric treatment, starvation, humiliation, sickness and disease, random gun shots, and living in a barracks covered in lice. The courage, stamina, hope, and love they had for one another is what made them survive this terrible time in their lives.
The book was riveting and had me hooked from the very first page. Although a lot of us don’t like to read stories about the atrocities done to our fellow humans, this is an important story that everyone should read. Remember, Eva and Miriam actually LIVED this and we’re only reading about it from the comfort of our homes as free people.