Book review: Surviving the Angel of Death: The True Story of a Mengele Twin in Auschwitz

Mengele, the Angel of Death, experimented on twins in the Auschwitz death camp. He was a Nazi doctor who embodied the twisted Nazi obsession with the supposed superiority of the Aryan race. He conducted experiments on Jewish twins brought to the camp in hopes that he would learn things that would help make the Aryan race even more superior.

What was done to other humans under his watch is sickening. Mengele and his helpers routinely measured, injected mysterious substances into, and drew blood from the twins. He would inject one twin to see what would happen. If the twin died, the other was killed and a simultaneous autopsy performed to see what the different effects were on their bodies.

Eva Kor and her sister Miriam were one set of twins that made it out of Auschwitz alive. In Surviving the Angel of Death, Eva recounts her story of growing up in the only Jewish family in a rural Romanian town and then being removed to a ghetto and then Auschwitz. She describes in detail her time in Auschwitz, her liberation, and post-liberation. After liberation, she returned to Romania and then moved in with an unloving aunt, and finally found a sense of safety and home in Israel.

She eventually married an American, another Holocaust survivor, and moved to the unlikely spot of Terre Haute, Indiana (where she lives today and lectures at CANDLES, the museum that she founded). She came late to forgiveness but covers her journey to it in Surviving the Angel of Death.

Eva’s story is a moving, and ultimately an inspiring, one—her surviving the camp and then becoming an ambassador of sorts for forgiveness. Her story is one of grit and determination. She aims to educate and empower people…and to light the healing path of forgiveness.

Surviving the Angel of Death is written to be highly assessable for young adults. It is, of course, mature subject matter, but subject matter that is crucial for young people to hear about. But her story is much more than a Holocaust story. It is also one about overcoming, surviving, and thriving…and the healing that comes from forgiveness.

I heard Eva speak at CANDLES. Much of the material in Surviving the Angel of Death is a repeat of her lecture, but some is new or expanded. If you are in the Terre Haute area, stop by CANDLES Tuesday or Saturday to hear her speak. You may know the story of the Holocaust well, but it is moving to hear experiences recounted in person. And you can pick up Surviving the Angel of Death or her other books at the museum.

Side note: A documentary is in the works about her by Ted Greene, the same guy who recently produced an outstanding documentary about Crispus Attucks. The documentary about Eva is scheduled for a late 2017 release.

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