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Children of the Flames: Dr. Josef Mengele and the Untold Story of the Twins of Auschwitz

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Sofia Carrillo

on 18 June 2014

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Transcript of Children of the Flames: Dr. Josef Mengele and the Untold Story of the Twins of Auschwitz

Summary
Summary (cont.)
author's Purpose
textual evidence
Main idea:
textual evidence
textual evidence
Dr. Josef Mengele was an infamous SS doctor who experimented on people, affecting them even after the war ended.
textual evidence
Author's credibility
Review
Children of the flames
Dr. Josef Mengele and the Untold Story of the Twins of Aushwitz
Written by Lucette Matalon Lagnado and Sheila Cohn Dekel
Sofia Carrillo, P3
Born in Günzburg, Germany on March 16, 1911.
As a young child, Josef Mengele was adored by his community.
Affectionately known as "Beppo."
Was not particularly advanced in school, nor did he show signs of sadism. However, he was very charismatic.
Despite not performing well in school, he attended the University of Munich, where he studied anthropology and genetics.
Because of Hitler's influence at the time, the fields Menegle was studying were influenced by the idea of racial purity.
At this university, Mengele changed into an ambitious, hard-working young man. He graduates with the highest honors at 25, summa cum laude.
Applied to be an assistant to one of Germany's leading racial scientist, Otmar von Verschuer, and was accepted.
Verschuer acted fatherly towards Mengele, filling the paternal role Mengele lacked in bis life; this made it easy for Verschuer to influence him.
He taught Mengele that it was okay to perform experiments on people and is directly responsible for Mengele's later fascination with twins.
Later, Mengele moved on to testing on people at Auschwitz-Birkenau, and worked as the head SS doctor.
The first impression he made on many people--including those he experimented on--was that he looked nice, well-dressed, handsome, even. He worked hard to keep up his good looks.
Mengele would stand and observe people being take to the crematorium and gas chambers. Watching them, he would pick out people he found interesting; disfigured people, dwarfs, pregnant women, but his favorite was always twins, especially children.
Mengele was unnaturally despite the horrors going around him. He would speak to people pleasantly, and with a smile; he even gave children candy after experimenting on them.
Magda Spiegel, one of the survivors, asked Mengele where her son was; in response, he simply smiled and told her he was in kindergarten.
In a twisted sense, Mengele almost acted fatherly towards his experiments,acting very kind, but just as easily would doom them to gruesome ends. Vera Blau, another survivor, said she remembered him as a gentle man.
"Twins' Father" Zvi Spiegel
Magda Spiegel

Hedvah Stern
Leah Stern

Moshe Offer

Zvi "the Sailor" Klein

Eva Mozes
Miriam Mozes

Olga Grossman
Vera Grossman
Alex Dekel

Peter Somogyi

Vera Blau

Menashe Lorinczi
Lea Lorinczi

Eva Kupas

Solomon Malik

Judith Yagudah
Survivors
summary (cont.)
Come fall of 1944, Germany's fall was clear and inevitable.
Mengele, unlike other SS doctors, decided to pack all his research and hide it away instead of destroying it.
One night in the middle of January, Mengele vanished from the camp.
Meanwhile, those he left behind, the people he experimented on, where either marched out of the camp or left to die in the cold.
January 27, 1945 - The Russians marched in Auschwitz, and liberated those left at the camp.
The Twins' Father, Zvi Spiegel, traveled a long way with a large amount of boys he had promised he would take home after the war.
Mengele, moving from camp to camp, realizes they will be caught soon, so he disguises himself as a part of the Wehrmacht. They are caught and placed in a POW camp.
Mengele is freed, as they do not identify him as being part of the SS.
Using fake identification papers, Mengele goes to a farm to hide out and work in. During his time, Jews are still facing hardships, and survivors are struggling to adjust to life.
Mengele eventually flees to Nazi-friendly Argentina and lives comfortably. However, eventually he flees to Paraguay due to manhunts for him; after Paraguay, he moves to Brazil.
In Brazil he lives with a couple on a farm, however they do not like him, especially the wife, describing Mengele as demanding.
In 1979, Mengele has a stroke while swimming and he dies.
In response to the aftermath, CANDLES (Children of Auschwitz Nazi Deadly Laboratory Experiments Survivors) is formed by survivors Eva and Miriam Mozes to help deal with what had happened to them.
The authors, Lucette Matalon Lagnado and Sheila Cohn Dekel are both credible for varying reasons. Lagnado was educated at Vassar College and Johns Hopkins University School, and a former reporter; she has be working on uncovering and making people aware of the Auschwitz twins since 1984, and at a point published an article on Mengele that sparked a manhunt for Josef Mengele himself; she was also Executive Editor of the Forward, a weekly Jewish newspaper, and currently a journalist for the Wall Street Journal. Dekel works as a writer,
lyricist, and educator, and the widow of Alex Dekel, one of the many people Mengele experimented on. She herself collaborated with him many times and continues to help awareness of the twins in memory of her husband.
4/5 stars
Children of the Flames: Dr. Josef Mengele and the Untold Story of the Twins of Auschwitz is a good, interesting book with the potential to be a great book, however, it is clear after reading the book that it has its flaws. The way it is constructed and organized is an intriguing idea in theory; it switches between emotional first-hand accounts of those who were experimented upon, and factual text about Josef Mengele himself, which provides deeper insight into the man. The only problem is that the first hand-accounts are supplied by many survivors, and it can be very confusing to remember who is who while reading, making it difficult to deeply immerse yourself in the book. The actual content of the text, however, is well written and very informative; the survivor accounts give you an image of what they felt and you can feel sympathy for them; on the other hand, the text on Mengele gives you more of what and why he committed such terrible crimes. Nearing the end of the book, the two different texts split off into separate stories; the survivors tell us what happened to them after the war and at the same time we read about what Mengele is going through, which can make for some interesting comparisons. In the end, I feel that I had bigger expectations for the book and that it fell a bit short, though it is still a good book.
The authors of this book, Lucette Lagnado and Sheila Dekel, wrote this book because they both wanted the survivors of Mengele's experimens to have their story heard and remembered. Before, it has been difficult for these people to come out and tell their stories--it is even said that many had told no one, not even close loved ones.
"I had been the first journalist ever to search out and symatically interview them, to help make their stories known to the world."
Lucette Lagnado, (10)

"'Tell your children of it,
And let your children tell their children,
And their children another generation.'
--Joel 1:3
It is this spirit that has guided me in completing [my husband's] work."
Sheila Cohn Dekel, (15)


Dr. Josef Mengele was an infamous SS doctor who experimented on people, affecting them even after the war ended.
Reason#1:
The beginning of the book starts off with a young Josef Mengele, and tell us about how he began his life and what caused him to become the sadistic doctor he was.

Dr. Josef Mengele was an infamous SS doctor who experimented on people, affecting them even after the war ended.
Reason #2:
Mengele experimented on people who he found interesting. Survivors recount their experiences with him, describing painful injections and Mengele's two sided nature; being kind and gentle yet sadistic and cold-hearted.
Even after the war, Mengele continues to influence the survivors lives, some of whom never get full closure due to him getting away.
Reason #3:
"There is nothing in Josef Mengele's early life that would prepare him for the notoriety that was destined to engulf him."
(p.31)
"In many ways, the impressionable Mengele was an ideal protege for the opportunistic Verschuer. The professor could and did channel Mengele's zeal to distinguish himself to advance the institute, and, in turn, the cause of the Nazis."
(p.48)
"I remember Mengele came almost every day, and he always wore his SS uniform and tall black boots. They were very shiny boots.
I was terrified of him."
(Eva Mozes, 61)
"Mengele once put a needle in my arm--only the needle, not the syringe. Blood started spurting out. He calmly placed the blood in a test tube.
Then, he gave me a sugar cube."
(Solomon Malik, 65)
"I believe Josef Mengele loved children--even though he was a murderer and a killer. Yes! I remember him as a gentle man."
(Vera Blau, 67)
"On the surface we lead normal lives, but we have never escaped the long, dark shadow of Mengele."
(Irene Hizme, back cover)
"I tried to forget the Holocaust. I kept telling myself how lucky I was."
(Twins' Father, 163)
"Dr. Mengele was a very shrewd, very clever man. I have a feeling he will never be caught. A man who gives children sweets, then terible injections--do you really believe such a man would let himself be caught?"
(Moshe Offer, 254)
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