Synopses & Reviews
In this remarkable, never-before-told account of the Ovitz family, seven of whose ten members were dwarfs, readers bear witness to the best and worst of humanity and to the terrible irony of the Ovitz's fate: being burdened with dwarfism helped them to endure the Holocaust. Through dogged research and interviews with the youngest Ovitz daughter, Perla, the troupe's last surviving member, and other relatives, Israeli authors Yehuda Koren and Eilat Negev weave the tale of a beloved and successful family of performers who were famous entertainers in Central Europe until the Nazis deported them to Auschwitz in May 1944. Descending into the hell of the concentration camp from the transport train, the Ovitz's--known widely as the Lilliput Troupe--separated from other Jewish victims. When Josef Mengele was notified of their arrival, they were assigned better quarters and provided more nutritious food than other inmates. The authors chronicle Mengele's experiments upon the Ovitz's and the creepy fondness he developed for these small people, even the songs he composed and sang to this family of singers, dancers, and klezmorim. Perla explains the irony of their survival in the hell that was Auschwitz: "If I ever wondered why I was born a dwarf, my answer would have to be that my handicap ... was God's only way to keep me alive." Finally liberated by Russian troops, the family returned to their deserted village in Transylvania and eventually found their way to a new home in Israel. They resumed their careers, overcame their handicaps, and became wealthy and successful performers. A unique book that is a powerful testament to the human spirit, In Our Hearts We Were Giants is a triumphant tale thatno reader will forget.
"When the last of his 10 children was born in 1921, Shimshon Eizik Ovitz had the distinction of having fathered the largest dwarf family in the world. Twenty-four years later, his seven dwarf children, two of their normal-sized siblings and a handful of their spouses and cousins set a more tragic record as one of only two extended families to survive Auschwitz intact. The same physical characteristics that frequently rendered them helpless made them endlessly appealing to the notorious Dr. Josef Mengele, who tormented them in the name of genetic research. The Ovitz family history is fascinating, as is the dwarf lore that Israeli journalists Koren and Negev have unearthed, but the real drama aside from the horror of the Holocaust is in the relationships the Ovitzes formed with Mengele as well as with one another, their spouses, extended family and with the Slomowitzes, fellow townspeople who pretended to be relatives so that they, too, would be spared. Much of the family history comes from the last surviving Ovitz daughter, Perla, who died in 2001, and her nephew, Shimshon, who was a toddler in Auschwitz. Perla is a compelling blend of pride and misery, her nephew a sorrowful adult whose difficult childhood was followed by a troubled adolescence. Their stories, and those of their family, are unique and unforgettable. 16 pages of photos not seen by PW. Agent, Erika Stegmann. (July)" Publishers Weekly (Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information, Inc.)
Koren and Negev tell the story of a family of dwarves who were separated from other Nazi concentration camp victims only to be subjected to Joseph Mengele's experiments and the creepy fondness he developed for them. Photographs are included.