Berkowitz and his twin sister Francesca were
two of Mengele’s victims. Arriving at Auschwitz from
Czechoslovakia in March 1944 with their mother,
12-year-old Marc and his twin sister, Francesca, were
singled out by Mengele for medical experimentation:
the experiments began, Mengele came and tattooed my
number personally. They put us in freezing baths,
smeared chemicals on our skin, but it was the needles we
were most afraid of. After the first 150 injections I
stopped counting ... One morning in July 1944 I spotted
my mother among a long line of women moving toward the
gas chamber. Mengele called me in and gave me an errand
to the crematorium. He knew I would see my mother go to
her death. A couple of days later he asked me if I still
believed in God."
later, Marc Berkowitz still suffered from pains due to
the Nazis invaded Hungary in 1944, Isabella Leitner and
her family were herded in a ghetto and finally sent to
Auschwitz where her mother and baby sister were gassed
immediately. Isabella, the author of several books about
the Holocaust, was exposed to horrors that words cannot
describe, tortured, used. She later remembered the
arrival at Auschwitz:
packed for my journey to Auschwitz on May 28, 1944 - my
20th birthday. As we alighted from the cattle car - my
mother, my brother and my four sisters - there was
Mengele, looking magnificent with his dog, his pistol,
his riding crop. He sent my mother to the crematorium
immediately. She was too old to live. And my youngest
sister, Potyo, she was too young for him at 13 ...
Mengele was as smooth, as civilized, as elegant as
you can imagine, good-looking even. You would never
suspect the evil. He was the genius of death. I have a
sort of revenge. It would kill Mengele to see that I
gave birth to two of the most magnificent, beautiful,
intelligent children ... "
Leitner survived - not as a destroyed soul, not as a
person utterly crushed by suffering, but as a wonderful,
open woman with pure delight in life.
A surviving Mengele twin, Moshe Offer, later
recalled the death of his brother:
Mengele had always been more interested in Tibi. I am
not sure why - perhaps because he was the older twin.
Mengele made several operations on Tibi. One surgery on
his spine left my brother paralyzed. He could not walk
anymore. Then they took out his sexual organs. After the
fourth operation, I did not see Tibi anymore. I cannot
tell you how I felt. It is impossible to put into words
how I felt. They had taken away my father, my mother, my
two older brothers - and now, my twin ..."
Irene Hizme and her twin brother, Rene Slotkin,
were born in Czechoslovakia and were only four years old
when they were taken with their mother to Theresienstadt.
Shortly afterward, they were sent to Auschwitz, where
they were separated. They never saw their mother again.
They survived for almost three years in Auschwitz where
they were experimented on by Josef Mengele as part of
his twins research. Irene later recalled:
remember the first time I saw Mengele he was wearing
green, dark green. And I remember his boots. That was
probably the level my eyes were. Black, shiny boots. He
was asking for twins, twins ..."
"The first time we went to the infirmary, he took
blood. It was very painful ... They gave me injections
in the arm and the back, and X-rays. I'd be extremely
sick for a while."
war, Irene was adopted by a family on Long Island and
spent several years tracking down Rene, who was still in
Europe. In 1950, the family was finally able to bring
him to the United States and reunite the twins. And both
got married with children.
Klein was interned at Auschwitz-Birkenau for seven
months. He later recalled how he and his family arrived
at the Auschwitz railhead:
first time I saw Mengele was the day I arrived at the
camp with my twin brother, Otto, my mother, my aunt and
my sister. One of the men on the train platform asked my
mother if Otto and I were twins. When my mother said,
"Yes," he said, "I'll be right
back." A few minutes later, he took us to Mengele.
For the next hour we watched the selection process. My
mother was sent to the gas chamber, and so was my aunt.
and I survived and I've had a nightmare ever since the
camp. I dream that Mengele is taking my brother away to
kill him ..."
in March 1943, Ernest Michel arrived in Auschwitz
after five days and four nights in cattle cars. He was
born in Mannheim, Germany, in 1923 to a Jewish family
which had been living in Germany for over 300 years. He
was arrested on September 3, 1939, three days after the
outbreak of World War II, and spent the next
five-and-one-half years in slave labor and concentration
Michel, Auschwitz number 104995, worked as an orderly in
the Auschwitz infirmary and later recalled Mengele:
day in the summer of 1944 we took eight women, mostly
young and all healthy, into the room where the
experiments would take place. I saw Mengele standing
there in his uniform, surrounded by three or four
others. As we brought in each girl, an officer would
strap her down. After a while the screaming inside
stopped. When we took them out two of the eight were
dead, five were in a coma, one was still strapped to the
cot. Mengele was standing there, discussing it very
casually. The only word I could hear was
Michel's parents, grandmother, uncles, aunts, cousins
were all murdered by the Nazis, gassed in Auschwitz. He
survived and arrived in the United States in 1946. He
was active in the survivor community for many years and
served as Chairman of the World Gathering of Holocaust
Survivors in Israel in 1981.
As surviving Mengele victim Alex Dekel later
ran a butcher shop - major surgeries were performed
without anesthesia. Once, I witnessed a stomach
operation - Mengele was removing pieces from the
stomach, but without any anesthetic. Another time, it
was a heart that was removed, again, without
anesthesia. It was horrifying. Mengele was a doctor
who became mad because of the power he was given.
Nobody ever questioned him - why did this one die? Why
did that one perish? The patients did not count. He
professed to do what he did in the name of science,
but it was a madness on his part ..."
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