Skip to content
Catholic Online Logo

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

2/19/2013 (1 year ago)

Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

The story of the Ovitz family is told.

Not every Jew who arrived at Auschwitz was immediately ushered to the gas chambers. For some, greater horrors awaited, if such a thing could be possible. To realize these horrors, one need only recount the story of the Ovitz family, a group of seven Hungarian dwarfs that were retained by Josef Mengele for human experimentation.

The Ovitz family in this image. The family was subjected to extreme cruelty at the hands of Josef Mengele.

The Ovitz family in this image. The family was subjected to extreme cruelty at the hands of Josef Mengele.

Highlights

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

2/19/2013 (1 year ago)

Published in Living Faith

Keywords: Ovitz, dwarfs, Auschwitz, survival, Perla, Mengele, experiments


LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - Featured in the Daily Mail, the story of the Ovitz family is difficult to read. The family was spared some of the horrors of the camp, only to be subjected to different ones. Horrors so unique, they would make any person facing them shudder with fear.

The family of seven dwarfs arrived at the camp by train on Friday, May 19, 1944. The war was a little less than a year from closing, yet this was the most dangerous time at Auschwitz. Fresh trains arrived daily, bringing new loads of Jews from Hungary, who the Nazis had just recently begun deporting and murdering.

Nearly all of these new arrivals were sent immediately to their deaths, the camp being unable to house the hundreds of thousands of arrivals when it was already packed with 150,000 souls. In its time some 30 million would pass through its gates, the majority never to depart through them again.

To this place of horror and death, the Ovitz family arrived. As a family, they were all performers, putting on a traveling variety show, referred to as the "Lilliput Troupe." Accustomed to fame, when they arrived at the camp, one of their number handed out autographed cards to the guards.

The sight of an entire family of dwarfs caused an SS officer to immediately order the awakening of Josef Mengele, although the hour was early in the morning. The "Angel of Death," as some called Mengele, was always interested in people who were malformed or greatly different from the norm. Such people, including twins, were often reserved to him for his "experiments" which experts have discerned were little more than sadistic rites of torture.

As 3,100 of the 3,500 people aboard their train arriving from Hungary went immediately to the gas chambers and were dead within hours, the Ovitz family was spared and loaded onto a truck to be carried away and tortured at Menglele's hands. Etched into their memories was the fresh knowledge of the crematoriums, other Jewish prisoners explained to them upon their arrival.

The flames from the chimneys seared themselves into memory.

The family, which consisted of the seven dwarfs and a retinue of just over a dozen others, were spared and sent to a special area where Mengele housed his human subjects. They were allowed to keep their hair and their clothes, but were compelled to sleep in the barracks along with other inmates and they had to eat the same food as the rest.

They were given separate toilet facilities however, and a large aluminum bowl they that were ordered to use for daily washing.

At first glance, these special treatments might seem like a great fortune, but the devil soon came to exact his price. One-by-one, the family was taken into Mengele's laboratory and subjected to cruel tortures.

Among the most common was the incessant drawing of blood. Menglele and his assistants drew so much blood that they routinely passed out. When this happened, rather than finish at once, Mengele stopped and waited for them to revive, then drew yet more blood. Vomiting and nausea were common as a result.

X-rays were constant.

Psychiatrists asked embarrassing questions, they were tested for sexually transmitted diseases, and they were subjected to a routine water torture in which boiling water was poured into their ears, immediately followed by freezing. Doctors removed their teeth and eyelashes, without anesthetic.

Fear was ever-present, for Mengele showed an apparent fondness for the skeletons of dwarfs, which required the murder of the victim and preparation of the bones by roasting the flesh from the body in two cases, and an acid bath in another.

Other camp doctors became jealous of Mengele, and a rival once quietly selected two of the dwarfs for death at the gas chambers. The pair were barely saved.

On another occasion, Mengele told the family they were "going to a beautiful place" which naturally terrified them. However, he gave them makeup and told them to dress themselves with it. Relieved, the family thought they were to perform on stage. Well fed just before, they were trucked to a nearby theater and told to stand onstage. Once there, Mengele ordered them to undress. Horrified, the family stood naked before a room full of SS men as Mengele gave a speech about the work he was doing. Once the speech was finished, the crowd was permitted to come onstage to poke and prod the humiliated family.

Eventually, the Russians came to liberate the camp and by great fortune, the entire family survived. They returned home to find their valuables where they buried them, a rare success for Holocaust survivors. They then resumed their acting careers until one by one, they grew old and frail and died.

In retrospect, it might seem easy to suggest the Ovitz family was lucky and spared some of the camp's greatest horrors. After all, how many victims survived at all, furthermore with their family and personal treasures intact?

Yet, those who Mengele kept alive for his personal torture were subject to psychological trauma that was every bit as great as their physical suffering. Each victim who was old enough to know, understood that they could be killed at any instant to suit Mengele's pleasure. He thought nothing of shooting twins through the neck to perform random autopsies on them.

In other cases, he injected poison directly into the hearts of children with large needles, to kill them; likely a death as terrifying as any in the gas chambers.

And in countless other cases, victims were simply tortured until they died. Blood draws, injections, and being subjected to all manner of agonies took its toll on all.

While the Ovitz family struggled to survive following the war, Mengele escaped to Argentina, and later Paraguay, where he eluded justice for the rest of his life. He eventually drowned in Brazil during a swim, but at that time, his health was already failing.

He never faced earthly justice for his crimes.

One-by-one, the members of the Ovitz family grew old and died, their story finally being told by Perla Ovitz and other survivors who had shared experiences with them.

Perla was the last of the Ovtiz family to die. She passed away at age 80, on September 9, 2001.

---


Pope Francis: end world hunger through 'Prayer and Action'


2014 - Distributed by THE NEWS CONSORTIUM

Pope Francis Prayer Intentions for November 2014
Lonely people:
That all who suffer loneliness may experience the closeness of God and the support of others.
Mentors of seminarians and religious: That young seminarians and religious may have wise and well-formed mentors.



Comments


More Living Faith

Take the Catholic Online Thanksgiving Challenge! Watch

Image of Reaching out to others is precisely the way to show that we are thankful for what we have.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Thanksgiving is supposed to be a holiday filled with family and food, often spent on televised parades and football, and naps after lunch. Kids play in the yard or the streets as everybody generally has a good time. However, this is not the case for millions of ... continue reading


Pope says he's willing to speak to Islamic State - says nations are likewise guilty of 'terrorism' Watch

Image of After addressing the European Parliament and the Council of Europe, Pope Francis also told journalists that the threat of terrorism was not the only horror weighing on the world.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Asked about the possibilities of discussion with Islamic State, Pope Francis said, "I never count anything as lost. Never. Never close the door. It's difficult, you could say almost impossible, but the door is always open." The Pontiff went forward to say that ... continue reading


Unborn, terminally ill and elderly are treated as objects in Europe, Pope Francis says Watch

Image of If we uphold the dignity of the person we are acknowledging the

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

"Despite talk of human rights, too many people are treated as objects in Europe: unborn, terminally ill, and the elderly," Pope Francis said. Speaking at the European Union Parliament in Strasbourg, the pontiff said that "We're too tempted to throwaway lives we ... continue reading


Church recognizes six new saints as Pope Francis canonizes in Sunday ceremony, speaking about how we too shall be judged Watch

Image of Indian well-wishers gather at the Vatican for the Canonization ceremony.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Pope Francis has canonized six new saints, two Indians and four Italians, praising their lives as "extraordinary" and reminding us all that we will be judged by how we treat others. VATICAN CITY (Catholic Online) - Pope Francis recognized six new saints on Sunday, ... continue reading


Pope says church must extend help to immigrants, 'so that all may be treated as children of God' Watch

Image of The world must now recognize the advantages of migration. Host countries get new workers to meet production needs,

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Speaking to the 300 participants in the Vatican-sponsored World Congress on the Pastoral Care of Migrants, the Pope says that the Catholic Church "is a mother without limits and without borders." He says that the church must welcome and assist all of God's children, ... continue reading


Feast of Christ the King and Advent: What Does it Mean? Watch

Image of The Church really IS the Mystical Body of the Risen Christ. That Body is inseparably joined to the Head. Jesus Christ is alive, he has been raised, and he continues His redemptive mission now through the Church, of which we are members. As we choose to actually live our lives liturgically, not just go through the motions, we can move through life in the flow of the liturgical calendar. We can experience the deeper mystery and meaning of life, now made New in Jesus Christ, the One who is the Way, the Truth and the Life. (John 14:6,7) Jesus Christ is King! Jesus Christ is meant to become the Lord of our whole lives, and inform the very pattern of how we live them.

By Deacon Keith A Fournier

On November 23rd we celebrate the Feast of Christ the King. It is one of many opportunities the Catholic Liturgical Church year offers to each of us consider the creature which is called time, receive it as a gift and begin to really live differently. Yet, for ... continue reading


Two bishops dine and dialogue with peace activists

Image of War doesn't decide who is right, just who is left.

By Tony Magliano

During the recent U.S. Catholic bishops fall assembly in Baltimore, two bishops decided to forego the military chaplains dinner sponsored by the U.S. Army Chief of Chaplains Office, and attended instead a simple supper and discussion on peacemaking. On the evening of ... continue reading


'God always forgives, but the earth does not,' Pope warns Watch

Image of The Pope urged the world's leaders to rein in their greed and help the hungry.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

A doomsday scenario in which Mother Nature would exact her revenge is possible, even likely, Pope Francis warns. The pontiff was speaking out against the exploitation of natural resources for profit. LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - The Pope urged the world's ... continue reading


Pope Francis' special message: Why Poverty? 'And while we speak of new rights, the hungry remain'

Image of When we give our loaves and fishes to Christ, there is no end to the Good that can come from it.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Pope Francis has asked the world to do more to help those who suffer from hunger and malnutrition. Despite gains made in infrastructure and outpourings of food, too many people with plenty have done too little to help. LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - With ... continue reading


How do you raise a good, upstanding child? With daily prayers, weekly church attendance and the knowledge of God Watch

Image of Billy Graham, now 96, has reached out to millions with his joyous words of the truth of God and Jesus Christ.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Reverend Billy Graham, the world famous television evangelist and founder and chairman of the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association, has said that the reason the world seems to be in such dire straits is that children are not being raised right. LOS ANGELES, CA ... continue reading


All Living Faith News

Newsletters

Newsletter Sign Up icon

Stay up to date with the latest news, information, and special offers

Daily Readings

Reading 1, Revelation 18:1-2, 21-23; 19:1-3, 9
1 After this, I saw another angel come down from ... Read More

Psalm, Psalms 100:2, 3, 4, 5
2 serve Yahweh with gladness, come into his presence ... Read More

Gospel, Luke 21:20-28
20 'When you see Jerusalem surrounded by armies, then ... Read More

Saint of the Day

Saint of the Day for November 27th, 2014 Image

St. James Intercisus
November 27: James was a favorite of King Yezdigerd I of Persia and a ... Read More

Inform, Inspire & Ignite Logo

Find Catholic Online on Facebook and get updates right in your live feed.

Become a fan of Catholic Online on Facebook


Follow Catholic Online on Twitter and get News and Product updates.

Follow us on Twitter