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

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

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by Lucette Matalon Lagnado, Sheila Cohn Dekel, Lucette Matalon Lagnado

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During World War II, Nazi doctor Josef Mengele subjected some 3,000 twins to medical experiments of unspeakable horror; only 160 survived. In this remarkable narrative, the life of Auschwitz's Angel of Death is told in counterpoint to the lives of the survivors, who until now have kept silent about their heinous death-camp ordeals.


During World War II, Nazi doctor Josef Mengele subjected some 3,000 twins to medical experiments of unspeakable horror; only 160 survived. In this remarkable narrative, the life of Auschwitz's Angel of Death is told in counterpoint to the lives of the survivors, who until now have kept silent about their heinous death-camp ordeals.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Mengele was in charge of the ``selection process'' at the death camp Auschwitz, but he was also a genetic scientist with a special interest in twins. During the war he subjected some 3000 twins, mostly young, to experiments of unspeakable horror. Only 160 of them were alive when the Russians liberated Auschwitz in 1945. The authors have interviewed several of the surviving twins and here present their stories, including details of their postwar lives. One especially disturbing aspect of the book is the fact that some of the victims remember Mengele as a charming father-substitute in whom they yearned to place their trust. There are glimpses of Mengele joking with the children, taking them on outings, hugging them. One survivor insists he was gentle; another flatly states that he ``loved little children.'' Woven skillfully into the narrative is a formal and engrossing biography of Mengele himself, his family background, his wartime career, his escape to South America, his years in hiding. None of the surviving twins believes that the remains found in Brazil in 1985 are those of the death-camp doctor; according to the authors, they are certain that Mengele has succeeded in ``tricking the world yet another time.'' An important addition to the literature of the Holocaust. Lagnado is a freelance writer, Dekel is the widow of an Auschwitz twin. Photos. (Apr.)
Library Journal
The children of the title are the surviving twins of Auschwitz whom Mengele saved from death in order to use them for his research on ``Biology As Destiny,'' his fixation to create a racially pure German people. But the book is more accurately the story of Mengele as culled from his writings, official documents, and fiction. The twins' stories, moving and upsetting, are framework and background to the portrait of Mengele as Victor Frankenstein. Their anguished recollections of Auschwitz and attempts to create a life after such a traumatic experience alternate in different print with the Mengele biography, right up to his recorded--but never confirmed--death in 1985. This is a well-written and well-researched book, enhanced by a scholarly list of sources on the ghoulish Mengele and his life. For a book on the Romanian Holocaust, see Siegfried Jagendorf's Jagendorf's Foundry: Memoir of the Romanian Holocaust, 1941-1944 , reviewed in this issue, p. 98.--Ed.--Gerda Haas, Holocaust Human Rights Ctr. of Maine, Augusta
School Library Journal
YA-- A horrifying yet spellbinding account. Although Mengele was a mediocre doctor, he was encouraged in his pursuit of ``genetic research'' to create a ``master Aryan race'' with the concentration camp at Auschwitz providing an ample supply of specimens for his unscientific, poorly documented experiments. Twins were his fixation, and this book interviews some of the estimated 100 survivors from an initial sample of 3000 young people. The fascination of this book is that it follows the lives of both Mengele and the twins in their readjustment to life away from the camps. This gripping tale is extremely readable and well documented, offering another facet to the human tragedy of the Holocaust.-- Pam Spencer, Thomas Jefferson Sci-Tech, Fairfax County, VA

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Penguin Publishing Group
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Product dimensions:
5.01(w) x 7.74(h) x 0.59(d)
Age Range:
18 Years

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Children of the Flames: Dr. Josef Mengele and the Untold Story of the Twins of Auschwitz 4.2 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 22 reviews.
Neal_Klein More than 1 year ago
"Children of the Flames" does not set out to be a bad book. It tries to follow the experiences of several Mengele twins chronologically from before the War throughout the lives of the interviewees. The style of chronicling the lives of many people in this way might work for a newspaper series that is broken into stages over many days, but for a book, it doesn't quite work. Many of the people I spoke to who read the book find that they are referring back to the beginning of it to be sure they are reading about who they think they are reading about. It's as if the authors took a documentary style of storytelling and put it in print. For a subject with players from so many different places, you would think it would still work. It doesn't. My own uncle is featured prominently in the book - Zvi the Sailor. The significant detail you need to know before you put down good money for this work is that it is not accurate. A prominent Mengele twin who greatly assisted in the creation of the book disowns it for its inaccuracies and poor writing. My father, Zvi's twin, was never interviewed for his account. In fact, the book contributed to a rift between the twins that did not resolve for many years. The irony is that one of the authors is a writer for the Wall Street Journal. With credentials like hers, you would expect better in this book. I would find this book in a library. Paying for it seems like a mistake.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This book did not take long befor I was sucked into it. The stories are heart rendering. The author put this book togather so that as you are reading, you could visualize watching it like a documentary on "THC". So few were able to escape and the ones that did will truely never escape. This boook is a must read book!
Guest More than 1 year ago
This is a must read for anyone interested in the Holocaust. It is devestating to read about the terrrible things that happened to the twins.
VSP900 More than 1 year ago
This was a very interesting read about a little known aspect of the Holocaust. I read a great deal of material on the Holocaust but I had never thought about it from the angle of this book. Highly recommended.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
It was definately worth reading.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Dean693 More than 1 year ago
If you were ever wondered about the Holocaust and the things going on behind the scenes in Germany during the war, then this is a book you should definitely read. The story is told from the perspective of those experiencing the horrors one person could do to another, as well as probable death. From the beginning to the end of the book, the author focuses on the twins that were going through Auschwitz at the time and their first impressions of Dr.Mengele and their experiences at the Nazi death camp. What the author did when focusing on the experiences the children had was kind of a flashback type thing because, one minute they are describing what it was like for Mengele to grow up as a kid and then you would get a flashback telling you an experience of another pair of twins going through Auschwitz. There is nothing the author does, I believe, to detract from the story being told. It was always clear and concise what the author was talking about at any given moment. Overall, I liked this book a lot because I never knew the historical information the author presents in this book. Yeah you learn about it and you get the statistics but what you don't get is the true feelings and life that this book brings to you. This book is appropriate for mature audiences that know a little something about the Holocaust because it can get graphic and if you don't know what happened in the war you kind of will get lost pretty quickly.
DannyLeenerts More than 1 year ago
Children of the Flames, written by Lucette Matalon Lagnado and Sheila Cohn Dekel, is a book about the Holocaust but it is written from a different point of view than most books written about the horrible genocide. This book focuses mainly on the point of view of the twins and other people being tested on at Auschwitz by Dr. Josef Mengele. This is a book someone should read because of the fact that it gives you a different point of view of the killings at Auschwitz and because Dr. Josef Mengele is such an interesting person. He was a mass murderer but at the same time he was nice which made the people at the camps confused. In the book, Lagnado and Dekel would put quotes from the few surviving "children" of Dr. Mengele which added a nice touch. It made the story more personal and gave the reader a better idea of what the situation was like and how Mengele acted around them. One thing I felt the author did to detract from the content from the book was go off on tangents and somewhat get away from the twins of Auschwitz and focus more on Mengele's life. I would definitely say that I liked this book and enjoyed reading it. Anything relating to WW2 or the Holocaust interests me so it may seem biased but I think it was a well written book and it was incredibly interesting. It kept me entertained the whole time and I didn't want to stop reading everytime I picked it up. I don't think that this book should be read by anyone who hasn't begun high school yet though. The things discussed shouldn't be read by anyone in middle school or lower. There is some grotesque stuff discussed and nobody young should read about it until they mature more and get a grasp on the concept of death more. Before you read this note that it kind of starts out slow but stay with it because it gets interesting fairly quickly after that.
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Guest More than 1 year ago
This was the first holocaust book i have read. This book made me cry many times in it , they way the nazi's and camps treated these people are unbeliveable and extremely shocking. This book tells the horrifying truth about the holocaust. Anyone who wants to read about the holocaust this would be a good book.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Amazing yet chilling story of a life not so long ago when prejudice at it's worst was the norm and was so openly accepted by all. This book is so well written capturing the pain so many lived through-explaining not only how horrible the death camps were, but also the life that wasn't waiting for them when they finally were "free". Talks in great detail the way Mengele slipped through the tracks only to find that even though he managed to slip away from the court system, the life he was destined to lead was almost worse than the death he likely would have been sentenced had he been caught. An excellent novel.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This was a very interessting book, one of the best I have ever read. It is extremely well written. While reading the book it feels as if you are there, living the lives of those poor people, but in reality you could not even imagin there pain. This is an excellent book.
Cougar_H More than 1 year ago
Children of the Flames tell the story of Dr. Joseph Mengele and the tortured twins of Auschwitz. Joseph started out as a young boy who wanted to become a doctor. Just like most people he went to school and it was said by his friends and neighbors that he was quite the charmer. He was the eldest of 3 boys and took care of his younger siblings. Mengele followed his dream of becoming a doctor and was eventually introduced to Professor Otmar von Verschuer. Joseph became interested in Verschuers work in heredity, biology, and racial purity. Mengele became the head doctor in charge of making the selections at Auschwitz-Birkenau. He would sit in front of the lines and with the wave of his finger; he would sentence people to life or death. The labor camps or the gas chambers. While Mengele made his selections, SS officers walked up and down the aisles asking for twins. Mengele was especially interested in twins and would inject them with lethal substances and put them through test after test. Although Mengele was cruel to the twins he also loved them, and they loved him. The doctor was very nice to the children and very gentle he would walk along the gates and as they ran up to him he would pass out chocolates and candies. He would play with them and listen to them sing. They were not treated like prisoners but instead his children, he acted like their father. Then when they learned to trust him, he would inject them with drugs and kill them only to have their bodies sent away to have autopsies performed. Dr.Mengele deep down had a good heart and felt love towards his twins. But in the end his curiosity got the best of him. He wanted to understand so badly that he killed many to find out. I think by writing this book the author was telling us that no matter how nice someone may seem. It's their actions that tend to define them.
xMissMelaniex More than 1 year ago
I also saw a movie about Josef Mengele and have read other Holocaust books. I still have the most trouble wrapping my mind around the fact that humans treated other humans this way.