Rating: 5/5 stars
Genre: Historical, memoir
First published: 2009
Author: Eva Mozes Kor
Synopsis: Eva and her twin sister, Miriam, were 10 years old when they were ripped away from their family and thrown into Auschwitz. There, they became part of the medical experiments conducted by Josef Mengele, also known as The Angel of Death. Mengele was obsessed with twins and conducted many horrendous experiments on them. This is the story of how two children found the strength and endurance to survive true evil.
I received a copy of this book from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. I finished reading it in about an hour and I cannot tell you how I felt upon finishing. I don’t know how much I will be able to gather my thoughts for this review. Every time I read or watch a film about what happened then, no matter how many times I do so, it brings me so much sorrow to know that human beings are not only capable of such cruelty and hatred, but worse, they remain silent when faced with such atrocities.
Eva was a Romanian-born Jew. She was born in Transylvania, which is where I was born as well. So, from the beginning, this resonated with me on a profound level. Especially that I recognised some of the events that were mentioned, because they coincided with what my grandparents remember about those times.
Before I get too much into how this book made me feel, I will tell you a little bit about the writing itself. The book is written in a way that is easily accessible to a younger audience. But it is full of emotion, full of pain, but also full of healing and of forgiveness. In addition to the writing, there are pictures depicting Eva and her family, the emaciated forms of some of the Auschwitz children, as well as the twins at various stages in their lives.
As a woman of science, the fact that such atrocities were committed in the name of science makes me sick. I will not list here the things that were done to those twins and to the rest of the people that Mengele experimented on. Some of them, you will find in this book, some you can read about from other sources. And I urge you to do so, because I truly believe we owe it to these people, to ourselves and to the word to know these things, to know the suffering our cruelty and hatred as a species has brought and to make sure it never happens again.
What shocked me almost as much as the experiments, was how easily hatred was awoken in the common people. How ordinary people could turn against their neighbour because of propaganda. It scares me how susceptible we are to blind, unadulterated hatred.
This book, despite its content, has taught me not that humans are capable of atrocities, but that we are capable of enduring, of forgiveness; that we can survive and that we can heal. I apologise that this review is not more collected and coherent, it’s difficult for me to gather my thoughts. But please, read this book and read any books like this that you come across. These are stories that must be heard. We owe it to hear them.