The Ovitz family arrived in Auschwitz on May 1944. In total it was formed by a 12 members family line with Romanian origin coming from Transylvania, 7 of whom affected by dwarfism. The Angel of Death Josef Mengele was woken up by the officers:

On the train there was a series of unconventional prisoners, unique in their genre

Mengele interviewed them at length and eventually, touched, replied:

I have work for the upcoming 20 years

Below: the Ovitz in Auschwitz in 1944

From now on the hell was unleashed for the “Auschwitz Dwarfs”, as they got renamed. Despite the brutality of the time being though, the Ovitz family was treated with way more “human” manners than the other people held inside the camp. Mengele requested that a special shack was built for his little guests, with bowls to wash themselves and a inner bathroom instead of the shared bathrooms. They could stay together instead of being divided from each other but most importantly they did not end up dead during the Angel of Death’s experiments.

When they would extract blood or bone marrow, when they would inject them with syringes any kind of obscene substance, they would give them time to fully recover. When they would faint for puking, pain or the too much extracted blood, Mengele let them rest, without ever risking their lives.

They were precious little people, seven persons all affected by Pseudoachondroplasia and all blood related

Above: Image via Wikipedia/Giusto uso

Aside from the siblings affected by dwarfism, even the other Ovitz were objects of experimentations. In particular, the worst tortures were the ones endured by the youngest of them all, Shimshon, who was 18 months old. His parents did not have achondroplasia and the child was a premature child. They drew his blood from the veins behind his ears and fingers and tortured him in who knows what other inhuman manners.

The main goal for Mengele was demonstrating the superiority of the Aryan race over the loads of people that were arriving to the concentration camps. Therefore Jews, gypsies, slaves, and other people with genetics conditions such as the Ovitz would represent the ideal means for the pseudo-scientific tests that doctors would carry out. Whatever the scientists believed to be necessary, it was possible to be done, in the name of the scientific progress.

Either way, they would all end up inside the crematorium ovens

For the 12 Ovitz, the destiny had something different in store. Mengele even allowed them to wear civil clothes instead of the Auschwitz uniforms. They had bedsheets and did not have to work. To the other prisoners, the siblings must have seemed like an hallucination. However, eleven people managed to be considered as Ovitz relatives, so they allowed them to live together.

The dwarfism of the Ovitz spared 11 other people from certain death

The story of this special family started many years before in Romania, when Shimson Eizik, the father of them all, had 10 children, two with the first and 8 with the second wife. The man had the achondroplasia himself and he was of Jewish origin. Once the travelling rabbi father died, the Ovitz set up an itinerant show where they would sing and dance all over Europe. Initially they managed to escape the racial laws due to the absence of Jewish heritage signs in theirs IDs.

Nazis were finally able to intercept them in the occupied Hungary and, seen the peculiarity of their condition, they were immediately sent to Auschwitz. Here the Ovitz met their worst nightmare but they miraculously survived it. The only one who died was Arie, of normal height who perished during an attempted break out.

The Ovitz generally lived a long life, after having met the most deadly place and doctor in history. Their names were:

Rozika (1886–1984) ( born by the 1st wife Brana Fruchter): with dwarfism
Franzika (1889–1980) ( born by the 1st wife Brana Fruchter): with dwarfism
Avram (1903–1972) ( born by the 2nd wife Batia Bertha Husz): with dwarfism
Freida (1905–1975) ( born by the 2nd wife Batia Bertha Husz): with dwarfism
Sarah (1907–1993) ( born by the 2nd wife Batia Bertha Husz): normal height
Micki (1909–1972) ( born by the 2nd wife Batia Bertha Husz): with dwarfism
Leah (1911-1987) ( born by the 2nd wife Batia Bertha Husz): normal height
Elizabeth (1914–1992) ( born by the 2nd wife Batia Bertha Husz): with dwarfism
Arie (1917–1944) ( born by the 2nd wife Batia Bertha Husz): normal height
Piroska o “Perla” (1921–2001) ( born by the 2nd wife Batia Bertha Husz): with dwarfism

The Ovitz survived the gas chambers and were released from the camp by the Red Army  on the 7th January 1945, amongst the 7 thousands found still alive.

There, next to them, over 1 million and 100 thousands people did not have the same luck of coming back

Once freed, they began a seven months trip back home by foot. When they arrived to their native city and found their home fallen to pieces, first they moved to Sighet, still in Romania, then to Belgium. In May 1949 they went to Israel, where they obtained some fame as artists and started exhibiting in big theaters. The children of the two Ovitz men affected by the dwarfism grew up fully in height, whereas the women did not have any descendants. In 1955 they retired from the stage and bought a cinema.

The tales about the Ovitz family lives and tortures endured in Auschwitz come from Perla, the very last member of the family, interviewed in 1999.

Matteo Rubboli

I am a publisher specialised in the digital distribution of culture and founder of the portal Vanilla Magazine. I don't wear a tie or branded clothes, I keep my hair short so I don't have to comb it. That's not my fault but just the way I've been drawn as...

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