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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.
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on 7 July 2004
As an avid reader of many Holocaust stories, I was very moved by the remarkable, true story written by Yehuda Koren and Eilat Negev, Israeli authors who interviewed the last surviving dwarf of the Lilliput Troupe.
This Orthodox family which consisted of ten children, seven of whom were dwarfs, all survived the horrors of the Auschwitz Concentration Camp and the experiments by Joseph Mengele. Unlike other stories of Holocaust survivors which describe horrific conditions of death, starvation, and torture, this story is unique in that the reader can identify with the emotions and
vicissitudes of the dwarfs and sympathize with their situation. It is a poignant and uplifting story of survival and compassion for the little people of the world who have made an important contribution to world history, unique in the Orthodox world.
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on 24 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.
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on 20 July 2005
A brilliant read, and amazing that the whole family stayed together during the concentration camps experience. Once I started reading I could not put it down. It is such a harrowing, very moving story, yet awful at the same time. The experiments they endured at Dr Mengle's hands was terrible. If you want a insight into the crazy world of Auschwitz minds then this book is a must.
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on 20 December 2012
This book is great for anybody with an interest in the Holocaust. It gives a detailed account of seven dwarfs who survived Auschwitz, as well a few of their family members who did not have dwarfism. The Ovitz family were medically experimented on by Dr Megele during their time in Auschwitz and although these medical experiments were gruesome and degrading the writers show how because of their dwarfism, and Megele's fascination with experimenting on dwarfs, the Ovitz were saved from the gas chambers.

I found the book very easy to read and learnt a lot from it. It provides a good biographcial account of the Ovitz family, including interview snippets and photographs, which mostly focuses on their time in Auschwitz. The book is well researched and very detailed.

As this book was written by two average sized people their attitudes towards dwarfism differ significnatly from somebody such as myself who is a dwarf. Dwarfism is not a tragedy and dwarfs do have a normal life expectancy, despite what is said in the book. When I read this book it was obvious that the writers had their own opinions of dwarfism which was not very accurate.
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on 24 March 2013
When in London last month I read two newspaper reviews of In Our Hearts We Were Giants by Yehuda Koren and Eilat Negev, and felt intrigued to read it.
My copy was published in 2004, so I think it must recently have been reissued. Beginning in Transylvania in 1923, it tells the true story of the seven Ovitz siblings, two male and five female, who were all dwarves.
Drawing on the musical tradition in their family they developed a popular stage show, and were famous in Eastern Europe until deported to Auschwitz in 1944, principally because they were Jewish, though of course Nazi ideology also reviled those who are physically different.
They were saved from the certainty of the gas chambers by the infamous Chief Physician of Auschwitz Dr Josef Mengele, who was excited to have them as test subjects for his scientifically extremely dubious, and often hideously cruel experiments.
Thanks to his patronage they were afforded more comfort and privileges than were most of the minority of detainees who were allowed to live, yet at the expense of being poked, probed and drained of blood again and again and again, and subjected to other procedures amounting to torture, as well as being all too aware of the horrors taking place around them.
Miraculously they all survived, with the help of fully grown family members incarcerated with them, also under Mengeles protection, as he was bumblingly searching for genetic clues to the origins of dwarfism.
They moved to Israel, reprised their stage act for a few years, and the last of them passed away in 2001.
There's much more in the book than I have time to mention here : It's very well written and researched, and a moving and extraordinairy story.
Quite unlike any other book I've ever read, and one that will stay with me.
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on 25 May 2014
This was an interesting book to read about the life of the dwarfs, before, during, and after the war. It tells of their story in a notorious concentration camp and how they survived because of the doctors fascination with them.
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on 18 November 2013
Thought there might have been more about the actual Family...a lot of information about the atrocities committed at the "death camps" which was interesting but not what I expected
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on 20 September 2015
I read this back to back in two nights. A very sad memoir of an horrific event in history, yet it is a book filled with bravery, hope and compassion.
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on 20 June 2013
A super publication. A great insight to the cruelty of war. I can recomend this book as a must read
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