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Giants: The Dwarfs Of Auschwitz review

by: Caroline Westbrook - Last updated: 2013-03-01

Ovitz Familu

Ovitz Family

There have been countless novel describing the horrors of life inside concentration camps, but a new book by authors Yehuda Koren and Eilat Negev focuses on a little-known story of one unique set of Auschwitz survivors.

Giants: The Dwarfs of Auschwitz tells the story of the Ovitz family - aka the Liliput Troupe - seven of whom were dwarfs, and their amazing story of survival within the camp.

The Romanian-born family, seven of whom were dwarfs, found fame across Eastern Europe in the 1930s and 1940s with their touring vaudeville show, which saw them perform songs in Yiddish, Romanian, Russian and Hungarian.

However they were deported to Auschwitz in 1944, where they quickly won the fascination of camp doctor Josef Mengele.

And while his curiosity over their stature led to them receiving better treatment than other prisoners, it came at a high price as they became subject to his horrific medical 'experiments'.

The story, which has been re-told from interviews with Perla Ovitz, the last surviving member of the clan who died in 2001, it's a stirring tale of triumph over adversity.

And although it is unflinching in describing details of the ordeal that the family endured - to say nothing of the general horrors of camp life - its matter of fact approach to its subject matter makes it compelling if hard to read at times.   Ultimately the outcome of the story - which amazingly sees the family surviving against all the odds, even down to their youngest member - 18-month-old baby Shinshon - makes this not only an amazing tale of surviving but a curiously optimistic one.

Although it's a disturbing read at times, it's one which is well worth the effort.  

Published by The Robson Press, price £16.99

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