Today dear readers I am honoured to be one of the bloggers kicking off the blog tour for The Twins Of Auschwitz (Published 06/08/2020) By Eva Mozes Kor. A big thank you to the publishers Monoray/Octopus for sending me a copy to review, always appreciated. Also to the wonderful Anne for the invite, thank you.
The Twins Of Auschwitz
THE INSPIRING TRUE STORY OF A YOUNG GIRL SURVIVING MENGELE’S HELL.
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.
THE NAZIS SPARED THEIR LIVES BECAUSE THEY WERE TWINS.
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.
Publishing for the first time in the UK in the year that marks the 75th anniversary of Auschwitz liberation, The Twins of Auschwitz shares the inspirational story of a child’s endurance and survival in the face of truly extraordinary evil.
About The Author
Eva Mozes Kor was a resident of Terre Haute, Indiana. Following her survival of Auschwitz, she became a recognised speaker, both nationally and internationally, on topics related to the Holocaust and social justice. Eva created the CANDLES organisation in 1985 to locate other Mengele twins and found 122 twins across the world. Ten years later, she opened the CANDLES Holocaust Museum to educate the public about the historic event she survived. A community leader, champion of human rights, and tireless educator, Eva has been covered in numerous media outlets and is the subject of a documentary, Forgiving Dr. Mengele. She passed away in 2019.
When Eva and her family arrived at Auschwitz, they had no idea of the horrors that awaited them. Eva and her twin sister Miriam were torn away in their matching burgundy dresses from their mother and rounded up with the other twins to be experimented on by the Angel of Death, Dr. Josef Mengele. That was the last time they saw their parents and sisters, they were taken to the gas chambers. Because Eva and Miriam were twins they had been kept alive. In this heartbreaking Holocaust biography we witness the hell and torture that the 10 year old twins faced at Auschwitz.
Eva recalls how their mother loved dressing them up in matching clothes so people would know they were twins. She would sometimes have to put tags on them so she knew who was who but their father could always tell them apart from their personalities. Miriam was born first but it was Eva who was always the leader. This is shown boldly throughout the biography as Eva takes it upon herself to make sure her and Miriam survive the evil experiments performed by the Angel of Death in Auschwitz. They need each other and Eva does everything she can; such as stealing potatoes to eat late at night, which if she was caught doing could get her hanged, to make sure they stay alive together.
Kor takes us back to her childhood when the family lived in Portz, in Transylvania, Romania. They were the only Jewish family in the village and lived peacefully until the Hungarian soldiers appeared one day. Soon after the school brought in teachers who spread their poison about their hatred of Jews with films, books and even maths questions about dead Jews. The other kids started to spit at them, beat up and call the twins names. One night the family attempted to leave, to get over the border to the non Hungarian side of Romania but were stopped by a Hungarian Nazi youth. They were forced to stay and endure the torment until one day they were carted off and put on an overpacked train with other Jews to a labour camp.
The twins were allowed to keep their burgundy dresses and hair once they arrived at Auschwitz and this was seen as a ‘privilege’. They had a big red cross put on the back of their dresses and a number tattooed on their arm. Eva refused and struggled resulting in her tattoo being blurred. She didn’t want to make it easy for them and would fight them every step of the way. As you follow her story your mouth continues to drop even further to the floor in shock and disgust at how human beings could be so cruel to treat others in such a disrespectful manner.
The twins are placed in Birkenau, which is part of Auschwitz and three kilometres from the main camp. It has one gas chamber and one crematorium. Every day they were woken up for roll call, even dead bodies were accounted for. The food was a two-and-a-half-inch slice of dark bread and a disgusting brownish fluid that everyone called fake coffee. The days were spent with injections of deadly diseases into their bodies to see how they would react and had vials upon vials of blood taken. Dr. Mengele would cut up bodies of deceased twins and send off for tests, desperate to learn the secret of twinning. He wanted to create blonde haired, blue eyed babies in multiple numbers to increase the German population, the Master race. Many children died as a result. It’s chilling to read and makes you feel sick at how vile humans can be. It’s not right and enrages you that these events happened, that no one could save those children. Your heart bleeds for them and you question your faith in humanity. It sickens you but forces you to read on, to hope that somehow others escaped this deadly fate.
The narrative leaves nothing to the imagination as Kor immerses the reader in the foul smells, constant noise of confusion, crying and death that surrounds the camp. There are rats and lice everywhere that make you feel itchy. From the moment Eva arrived on the platform a horrid smell like burned chicken-feathers plagued her senses. She later comes to the conclusion that it is the smell of burned bodies from the crematorium. There is no grass, trees or flowers and everything is lifeless and grey. But Eva is relentless in her fight to stay strong, to fight for them both and survive this horrific ordeal. She dreams that one day they will be free, as every-time she sees the American planes fly overhead it gives her hope that they will walk out of this hell alive, hand in hand.
What I found the most remarkable about this story is not only did Eva and her sister survive, walk out and build a new lives for themselves. But Eva managed to find it in herself to forgive the Nazis for all they had done to her. She goes on to teach young people about forgiving your worst enemy, and everyone who has hurt you as it will heal your soul and set you free. She never wanted to be made out as a saint, just to teach others of her story and what she learned from her experience.
From reading the Afterword by Peggy Tierney I learned even more about Eva and what a remarkable woman she truly was. Forgiveness is a powerful weapon and one only you can wield. Her story comes from a dark, depressing place in a time of destruction and fear. But she holds on to that small ray of light in the distance, the one that will guide her and her sister home.
I give The Twins Of Auschwitz By Eva Mozes Kor a Five out of Five paw rating.
At times I had to remind myself that this was not a fictional book I was reading. That these events really happened and to children younger than 10 years old. It broke me physically and mentally and I really struggled at parts. I had to stop a few times as the emotion was so intense. But I had to finish it, to know what happened and how these strong-willed twins survived.
The imagery is graphic, brutal and real. I was in tears. My heart went out to all those innocent souls that suffered because of what they believed in. It tears you apart knowing that there is nothing you can do about it but read survivors’ stories such as Eva’s and share their endless courage, strength and determination to walk out alive and free. This is a powerful, raw story thick with emotion and willpower that everyone needs to read.
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Thanks so much for the blog tour support xx