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on 20 June 2016
This is an astonishing story. The Ovitz family were Romanian Jews, who included an unusually high number of dwarves - 7 out of 10 siblings. Before WW2, they were famous throughout south east Europe as a travelling music hall troupe, and an incredibly close family. The war changed everything; they eventually ended up in Auschwitz. Once there, the very things which led them there - being Jewish and, to Nazi ideology, handicapped - also saved them. Dr Mengele had a special interest in twins and dwarfism, and they joined his 'research' group. They also managed to include some family friends by claiming them as related.
What they endured was what you would expect of Mengele and Auschwitz, but at the end they all survived; the only family to do so at that camp.
The book is told in a fairly straight chronological style. The authors do not shy away from varying accounts of certain events, and largely leave the reader to make up their own minds.
There are many accounts of Holocaust survival; this is one of the most unusual.
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The story of the Ovitz family is one of continual discrimination, and worse, because of their difference. Living in Romania before WW2 they were a family where dwarfism had resulted in many of them being very small. This meant that they couldn't easily earn a living and they had to be supported and cared for by the averagely heighted members of their family and those they employed. Living in a rural economy and surrounded by poverty they made their living in show business travelling around Europe and entertaining. They lived a precarious but comfortable life until the war came and they lost their occupation and were defined not only by their size but their religion. The family ended up in a concentration camp as the subject of some horrific medical experiments because of their size.

The story of the family is very well told. The narrative is clear and absorbing and has been based on records and first hand witness. The author gives you the ups and downs of their career both before and after the war as well as their relationships with extended family and those around them which was often marked by jealousy and discrimination. The main part of the book is about their experiences during the war and although all the family survived the authors spare us little in the telling about what they experienced and what happened to those around them.

This is an excellent addition to memoirs/stories of wartime experiences. The authors are careful to make it clear that the memory of the family members does not always match that of other survivors and they leave it open to the reader to decide who to believe on a couple of occasions but this is actually not important and inevitable given the times being described. I found it fascinating, moving and informative.
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on 17 April 2013
This book casts light on some of the strange complexities of the Jewish Holocaust. It tells the story of a family of seven dwarfs that was subjected to horrible medical experiments in Auschwitz by Dr. Josef Mengele - who must rate as one of the most revolting creatures who ever lived, and a disgrace to his profession. Mengele experimented on this family of dwarfs because he was particularly interested in researching the biological basis of dwarfism. Ironically, it was also this preoccupation which ensured that the family survived their time in the death camp. Not surprisingly, members of the family developed somewhat contradictory and ambivalent feelings about Mengele - who had both tortured them, and saved their lives. Thanks to Mengele, they were spared some of the worst excesses of that death camp - as a result of which they were resented by some of the other prisoners. Even before their dreadful experiences in the Nazi camp, the family had lived a self-contained existence. That was for understandable reasons, but their sense of social isolation seems to have continued long after their release from Auschwitz.
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on 23 March 2013
Absolutely amazing true story you won't want to put down. A real eye opener as to what went on in concentration camps. First hand accounts of the evil and suffering the Jewish people were put through.
Added to that the seven dwarfs who were kept alive for experiments. Amazingly they survived to tell their story.
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on 13 April 2016
This is the amazing true story of the Ovitz family, who survived the Holocaust simply due to the obsession of them by the Nazis. A fascinating read.
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on 17 February 2016
Absolutely compelling
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on 11 August 2013
Absorbing although a bit long winded at times. A story of surviving day by day amidst horrific conditions, and living to tell the tale.
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on 20 May 2013
I had never heard of this book until it was reviewed in a local paper telling about a documentary that was coming to television.

This story tells of a remarkable Jewish family of 10 children 7 of whom were born with a serious kind of dwarfism. Their father who suffered from the same form of dwarfism married two different women who were normal sized and it tells the story of how the family became a stage act in Romania before WW2 and how respected they were

When Hitler came to power they were rounding up with all the other Jewish people of their village and sent to Auschwitz and came to be taken under Dr Mengele who did horrific experiments on them and other people who had birth defects and also twins. The fact that there were 7 dwarfs in the family saved their lives and those of their family and some friends. I

The story goes on to tell of the remarkable escape they had when Auschwitz was liberated, then went to live in Israel .. They used their lives on stage that they had before the war to earn money and lived into their 60's, 70's and 80's keeping their dignity throughout their lives.

To me this is a story that MUST be read because it shows that although some people suffered and died this family managed to pull back their lives and keep their dignity till the day they died.
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on 8 April 2013
Already had an interest in this story after reading several newspaper articles. The book was easy to read and had a good flow to it.

It was full of interesting facts and gave a real and fascinating insight not only of what this brave and extraordinary family endured and encountered in the Auschwitz concentration camp but also their plight and long journey to resettle after the war.

It also gave a trully fascinating glimpse and better understanding into the lives and history of dwarf entertainers both before and after the war.

I would thoroughly recommend this book.
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TOP 500 REVIEWERon 3 October 2017
The fascinating and terribly moving story of the Jewish Romanian Ovitz family, ten siblings, of whom seven were dwarfs. From a happy early life, where they formed The Lilliput Troupe, a successful vaudeville act, they were later caught up in the horrors of World War 2.
The narrative follows their time in Auschwitz, where their disability saved their lives - although at the cost of tortuous and pointless medical experimentation by Dr Josef Mengele, who was fascinated by the genetics of abnormalities. Their size also saved non-dwarf family members (and friends who claimed to be related); they got to live together with slightly better conditions than the rest. But life was fraught as they realised they could be killed at any time. However the whole family miraculously made it through - the only sibling killed was an average-sized brother who was living independently.
After Liberation, realising they had no future in Romania, they settled in Haifa in the emerging state of Israel - again a tough life at the outset, but one where they succeeeded.
The husband and wife authors are Israeli journalists. They meet with the only remaining sibling, Perla, and travel to the family's former home in Rozavlea, Romania; and to Auschwitz, where they pore over documentation and give an emotive view of the place.
Very interesting and terrible account.
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