Mengele and the Family of Dwarfs
Yehuda Koren tells one family’s remarkable story of surviving Auschwitz.
Under the ‘Final Solution’, entire Jewish communities, extended families of forty or fifty members were crammed in cattle cars and transported to Nazi death camps. Almost nine out of ten people who arrived at Auschwitz-Birkenau were sent directly to the gas chambers. The few that were spared provided slave labour, and the work was not so much liberation as a brief, tortured interval before death. It was rare that one person from an entire family survived, let alone two. The survival of the Ovitz family from the village of Rozavlea in northern Romania is unique: twelve members, the youngest, eighteen months, the oldest, fifty-eight, were deported to the camp and all emerged unscathed. Seven of them – five sisters and two brothers – were dwarfs, less than three feet tall, the largest recorded dwarf family in the world. Not only did they survive, but they saved the lives of eleven other inmates as well.