Title: Surviving the Angel of Death: The Story of a Mengele Twin in Auschwitz
Authors: Eva Mozes Kor and Lisa Rojany Buccieri
Concepts: child schooling and work, discrimination, human resources, scarcity, and wants/needs
Review: This book tells the true story of how Eva Mozes and her twin sister, Miriam Mozes survived the Nazi death camp Auschwitz. However, the story is much broader in scope than the title would indicate. The narrative follows Eva from birth until the present day, although obviously the emphasis is on her time in the death camp. Nonetheless, the years preceding and following this time provide important context to the narrative. The beginning chapters give the reader a feel for the idyllic life the girls had in Romania before Hitler's rise. Then the reader sees the beginning stages of anti-Semitism showing up in the girls' school books and the slurs of neighborhood children. This quickly spirals until the entire family is forced out of their home to be taken to a ghetto. The family is eventually brought to Auschwitz, where the girls' parents and older sisters are killed. Eva and Miriam, however, are saved from the gas chamber because Dr. Mengele was conducting "experiments" on twin children in an effort to learn how he could create an Aryan race. These cruel and unusual experiments nearly kill the girls, but through luck and quick wits, Eva is able to save herself and protect her sister as well. In fact, much of their time in Auschwitz is the story of how Eva is able to provide for herself and her sister with the scantiest of resources. Bringing the narrative out into the years after Auschwitz helps show how anti-Semitism still exists, even in America, and also tells how Dr. Mengele's experiments ultimately took their toll on Miriam's body.
With all this biographical information, besides just the time at Auschwitz, the reader really gets to know and relate to Eva and Miriam. This will help young children put a face on the Holocaust, bringing their history lessons to their hearts as well as their minds. The language is clear and simple enough for even fairly young children to understand, with a great deal of history compacted into easy to digest nuggets. However, as the topics of parental death, gas chambers, genocide, and so on can be quite frightening to young children, this book is probably better suited for pre-teens.
Review by: Rutgers University Project on Children and Economics