Skip to content
Catholic Online Logo

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

2/19/2013 (2 years 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 (2 years 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'


Copywriter 2015 - Distributed by THE NEWS CONSORTIUM

Pope Francis Prayer Intentions for June 2015
Universal:
That immigrants and refugees may find welcome and respect in the countries to which they come.
Evangelization: That the personal encounter with Jesus may arouse in many young people the desire to offer their own lives in priesthood or consecrated life.


Rosaries, Crosses, Prayer Cards and more... by Catholic Shopping .com


Comments


More Living Faith

Amazing beautiful ancient mosaic church floor found under courtyard of current church Watch

Image of

By Atarah Haely (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Archaeologists have discovered an ancient decorated mosaic floor of an ancient church, underneath its modern incarnation, during an excavation. The Christian mosaic is believed to be about 1,700-years-old and part of the old Byzantine church of the fourth century. ... continue reading


Remembering another great encyclical!

Image of

By Tony Magliano

While Pope Francis' new encyclical Laudato, Si' is enjoying wide publicity, few people are aware this year marks the 20th anniversary of another powerfully prophetic social justice and peace encyclical: Evangelium Vitae ("The Gospel of Life"). Trying to awaken the ... continue reading


Former 'Accountant of Auschwitz' asks God for forgiveness during trial facing 300,000 counts of accessory to murder Watch

Image of Oscar Groening,

By Linky C. (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Former Auschwitz guard, Oscar Groening has asked for God's forgiveness after serving Austchwitz during his testimony in court, last Wednesday. The 94-year-old worked for Austchwitz when he was just 13 and later became the "Accountant of Auschwitz." MUNTINLUPA, ... continue reading


U.S. archbishops express excitement over pending papal visit Watch

Image of After visiting Cuba, the Pope will visit three major cities on the U.S. east coast - Washington, D.C., New York, and Philadelphia - and the respective bishops of those cities were indeed jubilant.

By Matt Hadro (CNA/EWTN News)

Looking forward to Pope Francis' September visit to the U.S., the nation's bishops were exuberant on Tuesday, as the itinerary for the apostolic voyage was released. Washington D.C. (CNA/EWTN News) - Fewer than three months before the scheduled visit, Archbishop ... continue reading


Pope Francis to meet with president, prisoners and homeless during U.S. visit Watch

Image of Pope Francis will celebrate Mass at Madison Square Garden and preside over a vespers service at the newly spruced-up St. Patrick's Cathedral.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Pope Francis' visit to both the United States and Cuba will be hectic. In addition to meeting with political officials in both countries, the Pontiff will meet with prisoners at the Curran-Fromhold Correctional Facility in Philadelphia and the homeless at the ... continue reading


Learning from Elijah: Shipwreck, Struggle and the Broom Tree

Image of Elijah under the broom tree

By Deacon Keith Fournier

There are lessons that can only be learned under the broom tree. The lesson St Paul gave to the early Christians in Greece about the reality of being shipwrecked and experiencing daily struggles in life is critical in our age. God is searching for men and ... continue reading


Head of Russian Orthodox Church to meet with Pope Francis to repair rift between branches Watch

Image of Patriarch Kirill of Moscow is a Russian Orthodox bishop. He became Patriarch of Moscow and all Rus' and Primate of the Russian Orthodox Church in February of 2009.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

It is definitely going to happen -- but where and when has yet to be decided. The head of the Russian Orthodox Church and Pope Francis have agreed to meet in an attempt to repair the major rift between the Eastern and Western branches of Christianity. LOS ... continue reading


Pope Francis explains the nature of faith - the whole Gospel is written in its light Watch

Image of Francis lamented that

By CNA/EWTN News

The Pope focused on the virtue of faith during his Sunday Angelus address, saying the whole gospel is written in its light. VATICAN CITY (CNA/EWTN News) - "Faith is this: to touch Jesus and to draw from him the grace which saves," Pope Francis explained June 28 at ... continue reading


Pope Francis admonishes archbishops to be convinced by what themselves teach Watch

Image of The Pope added that, in being witnesses to the faith, archbishops should practice what they preach.

By CNA/EWTN News

During his Mass for the feast of Saints Peter and Paul on Monday, Pope Francis called on the Church's new archbishops to be courageous witnesses who are not ashamed of Christ, and who are convinced by what they themselves teach. VATICAN CITY (CNA/EWTN News) - ... continue reading


Parents of St. Therese of Lisieux to be canonized by Pope Francis later this year Watch

Image of The canonizations of the married couple will coincide with the Synod on the Family, to be held on Oct. 4-25.

By CNA/EWTN News

Pope Francis formally approved on Saturday the decrees necessary for Blesseds Louis and Zelie Martin - known for being the parents of St. Therese of Lisieux - to be declared saints later this year. VATICAN CITY (CNA/EWTN News) - The two blesseds will be the first ... 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, Ephesians 2:19-22
19 So you are no longer aliens or foreign visitors; ... Read More

Psalm, Psalms 117:1, 2
1 Alleluia! Praise Yahweh, all nations, extol him, ... Read More

Gospel, John 20:24-29
24 Thomas, called the Twin, who was one of the ... Read More

Saint of the Day

Saint of the Day for July 3rd, 2015 Image

St. Thomas
July 3: St. Thomas was a Jew, called to be one of the twelve Apostles. ... 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