Surviving the Angel of Death is the story of a Holocaust survivor, Eva Mozes Kor. At age 10, Eva and her twin sister Miriam become a set of Dr. Mengele’s experimental “twins.” In the hopes of making an important scientific discovery, Dr. Mengele performs horrifying experiments on twins, dwarfs, gypsies and the handicapped. Upon arrival at the concentration camp Auschwitz, the Nazis separate 10-year-old twins Eva and Miriam from the rest of their family. Weakened with unsanitary conditions, humiliation, abuse, famine, and the unspeakable atrocities of Dr. Mengele’s experiments, Eva and Miriam swear to survive.
When Dr. Mengele injects the sets of twins with different viruses and diseases, Eva falls sick. At the weakest point in her life, she is left to die in the infamous “Infirmary.” Denied medicine, care and water, Eva relies on her inner courage and love for her sister, Miriam.
As a story and memoir, Surviving the Angel of Death is heartrending, tragic and full of hope. While it’s written for the YA audience, I believe the writing style and voice might be more appropriate for children. The book isn’t exactly written as a “novel” with scenes…I do wish it was written differently. The book consists of mostly “telling” rather than “showing” – more remembrances than detailed “scenes”. But that doesn’t make it less touching. Told from the viewpoint of a once-feisty 10-year-old, Surviving the Angel of Death stirs our hearts and souls. We can only hope that Eva’s personality and determination survives the horrors she and Miriam endure.
I commend Eva Mozes Kor for having the courage to tell her story, to revisit the memories inflicted upon her 10-year-old self, and finally, to forgive. The Holocaust is a terribly inhumane chapter in the history of humanity – but it will always a part of our collective history. Something that should never be forgotten. And Surviving the Holocaust cements this chapter of history in the voice of a 10-year-old survivor.