The only all-dwarf show of the time, their small stature earned them fame — and, ironically, ultimately saved their lives. As Hitler's war descended, the Ovitz family — seven of whom were dwarfs — was plunged into the horrors of the darkest moments in modern history. Descending from the cattle train into the death camp of Auschwitz, they were separated from other Jewish victims on the orders of one Dr Joseph Mengele Dr Mengele carried out a series of loathsome experiments on the family and developed a disturbing fondness for his human lab-rats, so much so that when the Russian army liberated Auschwitz, all the members of the family — the youngest, a baby boy just eighteen months old; the oldest, a year-old woman — were still alive.
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Also alarming was the fact doctors pulled out healthy teeth and plucked hairs from their eyelashes. Dora Ovitz, the full-size wife of the eldest dwarf Avram, was cross-examined by Mengele about her sex life. As he bombarded her with increasingly lewd questions, he was actually salivating. Having decided to send their skeletons to a museum in Berlin, Mengele had ordered his staff to boil their bodies over a fire until the flesh separated from the bones.
So pleased was he with the result that he had another dwarf killed for his skeleton — this time, the unfortunate man was dropped into a bath of acid. That they survived was down to the whim of the demon doctor.
When the time came for everyone in their part of the concentration camp to be gassed, he saved them a second time by moving them to a different section. The Lilliputs were careful to present a cheerful face to Mengele.
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He was unfailingly polite to his seven captives, often praising them for their appearance. Malnourished and traumatised, the boy had never cried or uttered a word. But no one who saw him could ever imagine that behind his beautiful face a beast was hiding. The family of dwarfs were taken by train to Auschwitz death camp and never believed they would survive.
Noticing that their faces had gone deathly pale, he grinned.
They would need to look their best, he continued, because they would be appearing onstage in front of some very important people. He left, leaving the parcel behind. At dawn, on Friday, September 1, the women helped each other dress and apply a heavy, theatrical layer of make-up. Their glamour restored, they felt jubilant as they were lifted on to the truck that had come to fetch them. They were taken straight to a large new building in the SS residential camp. Aghast, with trembling hands, they fumbled with their buttons. Once every stitch of their finery had been removed, they stooped as they tried to hide their breasts and genitals.
To illustrate his points, he poked the trembling dwarfs with a billiard cue, indicating the site of each of their internal organs. Afterwards, the dwarfs were too devastated to accept refreshments.
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Mengele continued to protect his research specimens. Mengele frowned. The end, when it came, was swift.
As word spread in January that the Russian army was approaching, Mengele gathered up his medical reports and fled. But the village of Rozavlea had irrevocably changed: only 50 of its Jews had returned. In , the family emigrated to Israel, where they spent several years touring with their stage show until ill health forced them to retire.
By the time Perla told her incredible story of the seven dwarfs of Auschwitz, the rest of her family had died.
Had he been caught, Perla said she doubted he would have apologised for what he did to her family. The views expressed in the contents above are those of our users and do not necessarily reflect the views of MailOnline. Share this article Share. Nazi Dr. Josef Mengele carried out horrific experiments. Share or comment on this article: How the seven dwarfs of Auschwitz fell under the spell of Dr Death: The hideous experiments carried out by Nazi Josef Mengele on seven trusting brothers and sisters e-mail.
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