This month, Wendy and I decided to read separate books to share about. We have very different tastes, which is really good. However, she had one she really wanted to read and I did, as well. So, we each read our own and are sharing about them today. Wendy wrote about The Girl On The Train.
GIANTS: The Dwarfs of Auschwitz – The Extraordinary Story of the Lilliput Troupe
by Yehuda Koren & Eilat Negev
In most books, I don’t read the Foreword or the Introduction. This one, however, was filled with fantastic information. Telling the background of how this story came about was fascinating. So, I start out by saying, “Don’t skip this.”
Meet the Ovitz family. Meet each of the interesting people, these unique souls. It begins in 1866, long before the horrors of the story come about. We meet the ancestors who formed the character of the Ovitz family and the fortitude with which they faced life.
The Ovitz family was made up of seven dwarfs and their tall family members. They are an all-dwarf performance group during the 1930s and 1940s in Eastern Europe (Transylvania, specifically the town of Rozavlea). They traveled all over and we very well known.
However, one major problem arose for this well-known and loved group – they were Jewish and they didn’t fit the Nazi German idea for a normal person. This family was rounded up with so many millions of others and sent to a concentration camp – Auschwitz to be specific. They stayed together, as their mother so often had reminded them to do before passing on from this life. And that probably saved their lives. Seven dwarfs in a single family arrived together and caught the attention of those who were told to watch for twins for Dr. Mengele.
Dr. Mengele was very happy to have a group of so many dwarfs, along with their tall siblings, to add to his medical experiments. While the dwarfs lives were spared for these experiments rather than being sent to the gas chambers or the incenerators like 9 out of every 10 who arrived at Auschwitz, their lives were made absolutely miserable (not a good word but no other word comes to mind) by this doctor. They were poked, proded, injected, had specimens taken from them, and a million other variations of private invasion to see if the doctor could determine just what he wanted to know.
This family survived and were able to leave the concentration camps but they still had a long road ahead of them. These who were so well-off before the Nazi invasions were now destitute. And in a world where everything they needed had to be specially made, this was a great hard-ship, even with their able bodied siblings alongside. Moving to Israel, the family begins the slow process of rebuilding their lives.
This story was absolutely fascinating, though incredibly difficult to read at points. I still struggle to understand how the world had something like the Nazi regime occur and how the atrocities that went on were approved of by men who thought themselves right. The awful, disgusting experiments that were done on the Ovitz family and so many, many others are unbelievable. But this story is one that will touch you deeply.
The love of the family for each other and for their heritage and religion is beautiful to read. I enjoyed reading about the Ovitz family because it brought another layer of understanding to my knowledge of WWII. To read about the world this family came from and the one they died in and all that was between is to read and feel the human story of life in some of the brightest days and some of the darkest of humanity.
I highly recommend this book to adults. There is certainly too much in it for most teenagers to be reading when it comes to the detail of the experiments that were performed. But it is a good book to read and see the resilience of humanity and the neighborliness that can exist, even when things are dark.
In April, we will posting about the book The Whistler by John Grisham. This will be interesting. I used to love to read John Grisham so we’ll see if I still enjoy it. 🙂