Surviving the Angel of Death: The True Story of a Mengele Twin in Auschwitz is the story of Eva Mozes Kor, who was a 10-year-old from Hungary when she and her family were sent by cattle car to Auschwitz. There, Eva and her twin sister, Miriam, were put into the care of Dr. Josef Mengele to undergo sadistic medical experiments, while the rest of their family was sent straight to the gas chambers from the selection platforms.
Her book conveys the horror of the camp – the dehumanization, the filth, the hunger, the constant threat of death and Eva’s fight to survive each and every day – without some of the more grap hoc details found in other books — and perhaps inappropriate for younger readers.
There are many other survival stories out there, but what makes this title most outstanding are the positive messages it conveys. Eva’s first message to readers is one of hope and survival: if she, as a child, could survive Auschwitz, then they can survive their own circumstances. In the book’s epilogue, she encourages readers to move past their own hurts, and she then challenges them to make the world a better place through working against bigotry, intolerance, and genocide. As Eva transformed the horror of her own childhood into positive work in the world, her story helps readers to transform their own feelings of despair and depression into opportunities to persevere and get involved.
The text is written in a simple, clear manner. It could be read by weaker or younger readers, but the story is compelling for all ages, from middle school children to adults.
Surviving the Angel of Death provides important context for WWII, from the larger picture of the rise of dictators and growth of anti-Semitism in Europe before the war, to the Communist control of Eastern Europe and mass immigration to Israel afterward. It is carried in the bookshops of the US Holocaust museum in Washington DC, Yad Vashem in Jerusalem, the Illinois Holocaust museum, and the Auschwitz camp museum in Poland.
Eva Mozes Kor speaks often at schools, at conferences on medicine and ethics, and at the CANDLES Holocaust museum she founded in her hometown.