06 April 2012

Review: Surviving the Angel of Death by Eva Mozes Kor

Surviving the Angel of Death by Eva Mozes Kor

Published: 14 October 2009 by Tanglewood Press

Pages: 141 (hardcover)

Genre/s: Non-fiction, history

Source: Publisher for review

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Eva Mozes Kor was 10 years old when she arrived in Auschwitz. While her parents and two older sisters were taken to the gas chambers, she and her twin, Miriam, were herded into the care of the man known as the Angel of Death, Dr. Josef Mengele. Mengele's twins were granted the privileges of keeping their own clothes and hair, but they were also subjected to sadistic medical experiments and forced to fight daily for their own survival, as most of the twins died as a result of the experiements or from the disease and hunger pervasive in the camp. In a narrative told with emotion and restraint, readers will learn of a child's endurance and survival in the face of truly extraordinary evil. The book also includes an epilogue on Eva's recovery from this experience and her remarkable decision to publicly forgive the Nazis. Through her museum and her lectures, she has dedicated her life to giving testimony on the Holocaust, providing a message of hope for people who have suffered, and working toward goals of forgiveness, peace, and the elimination of hatred and prejudice in the world.

My Thoughts

I've read a lot of memoirs in the last 10 years written by survivors of the holocaust.  Shocking, haunting and enough to make your blood boil, these are unimaginable stories of loss, pain and heartbreak but also inspiring and motivating.  

Surviving the Angel of Death is one of the few Holocaust books that I've read aimed primarily at a younger audience, but that doesn't make it any less shocking than accounts that are more adult-focused.  In fact, being lived through the eyes of 10-year-old Eva is in some ways even more heartbreaking.  

The writing is honest and straightforward with no feeling of events being romanticized or dumbed-down in order not to shock the reader.  As Eva fights for both her own life and the life of her sister, my admiration grew stronger by the line for this tough, spirited child who used her own experiences to help others become inspired and to understand exactly how much forgiveness can achieve.

Enjoyed is not the right word for a book about the Holocaust - enthralled, enraged, saddened and admiration are more apt descriptions, that completely sum up my feelings after I turned the last page.

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