Title: Surviving the Angel of Death: The Story of Mengele Twin in Auschwitz
Author: Eva Mozes Kor, Lisa Rojany Buccieri
Publisher: Tanglewood Press
Release Date: 2009
Length: 141 pages
Genre: YA Memoir
Source: Review copy from publisher via NetGalley
Since I went to Auschwitz a few weeks ago, I found myself requesting non-fiction about the Holocaust to prepare myself for the journey. I found this book on NetGalley and it fit the bill.
Eva was a Mengele Twin in the Nazi concentration camp Auschwitz. Dr. Mengele was fascinated by twins, pulling twins out of the lines to the crematoria in order to keep them as his “special patients” within the concentration camp walls. These patients were given different treatment, including more food and special protection, but were subjected to horrific medical experiments. Essentially, one twin served as the healthy patient while the other was the trial patient. When the trial patient died, the healthy twin was also murdered so autopsies could examine the differences between the two genetically similar patients.
Mengele’s practices are quite well known for being sick and twisted. However, reading a first-hand account of Eva’s experiences as a survivor made this even more clear. Eva and her twin, Miriam, shared a special bond in Auschwitz that helped them survive the cruelty they experienced. It wasn’t easy, and there were many close calls. Eva now had dedicated her life to sharing her story.
Surviving the Angel of Death is written for children. Eva’s writing is very simple, clear, and informative. Assuming her readers are young, she explains many aspects of the Holocaust to provide context. Eva paints a picture of a truly horrible man who treated Jewish children as less than human, performing painful and sometimes bizarre experiments that would never be allowed outside of the Holocaust. However, she also tells of her journey after the liberation of Auschwitz, sharing her story and granting forgiveness to the very people who made her life hell for so many years.
FINAL GRADE: B A very memorable and important book.
REQUIRED READING: Required for all middle school social studies teachers who teach the Holocaust. It would also be a great book for science teachers, as it could be used to spark discussions about ethics in science and scientific research. Consider using it for an interdisciplinary unit!
LIBRARY RECOMMENDATION: Buy it for an elementary or middle school library, or a public library. This definitely meets curriculum standards and would be an appropriate/interesting read for students. For anyone looking for “literary non-fiction” to fit within the new Common Core Standards, this is ABSOLUTELY an excellent choice. I highly recommend a class set.