Marc 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 injections.
When 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
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 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.
Frank 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."
brother 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 ..."
At 19, 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 camps.
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 'experiment'."
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.
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 ..."