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A triumph of the will
on 26 July 2004
This book should truly be written on the surface of diamond, to be read until the ending of mankind. Like Martin Gilbert?s The Holocaust, In Our Hearts We Were Giants is an immaculately researched history, a testament to human courage in the face of unimaginable horror. The hitherto un-recorded story of the Ovitz family from Romania, seven of them of restricted growth, who performed as The Lilliput Troupe, details their arrest and transportation to Auschwitz where they were selected by Josef Mengele for his pseudo-scientific research into dwarfism. The authors, in diligently extracting minute details of his inhumanity (the Devil is in the detail!), bring this monster - and his peers and successors - to judgement.
One of the most powerful sequences occurs towards the end, when the authors make the journey that the Ovitz family would have endured from north west Romania to Auschwitz. There, in this now seemingly ?commercialised? death camp, they find a single button in the dust. Throughout the book Koren and Negev continually astonish with fragments that impact the reality of the Final Solution. Like many pages in this shocking book it?s almost impossible to read through tears, The moral of every page is a test of one?s own morality and courage.
The horror of what happened becomes tangible when the focus is upon individuals - somehow the massacre of millions is impossible to comprehend. If their sacrifice has any value then it is contained in books like this, as the same genocidal forces are still at work around the world. It is as profound a memorial as that at Yad Vashem, and at the end all one can say is Kaddish.