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

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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.


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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.

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

  1. 5 out of 5

    Petra-X

    I will have to think long and hard about how I am going to review this very unusual book - not just subject matter but the way it is written and laid-out, although it is not in the least bit gimmicky. For now... it was brilliant, it is a lot to think over, it explains, if not excuses, why the Israelis are so very hard on their enemies. It is perhaps the only book anyone need read to understand the Holocaust and to know that it wasn't over when it was over and that forgiving one's enemies might be I will have to think long and hard about how I am going to review this very unusual book - not just subject matter but the way it is written and laid-out, although it is not in the least bit gimmicky. For now... it was brilliant, it is a lot to think over, it explains, if not excuses, why the Israelis are so very hard on their enemies. It is perhaps the only book anyone need read to understand the Holocaust and to know that it wasn't over when it was over and that forgiving one's enemies might be just what they'd been counting on.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Neal Klein

    “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 found that they were referring back to the beginning to be sure they were re “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 found that they were referring back to the beginning to be sure they were reading about who they thought they were reading about. It’s as if the authors took a documentary film 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. And yet, 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 entirely accurate. A prominent Mengele twin who greatly assisted in the creation of the book disowns it for its inaccuracies and sub-par 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 now a writer for the Wall Street Journal and Sami Rohr recipient. With credentials like hers, you would expect better in this book. Lucette Lagnado very kindly replied to me within 24 hours (during a book tour on New Year’s Eve, no less) when I asked her why she never interviewed my father. I told her of how the book added to the estrangement of my father and his twin. Her answer was a weak and disappointing one, if candid, for an investigative journalist: She couldn’t find him. If you read the book, Zvi the Sailor claims he sent his twin brother, my father, money from Israel to America. If true, she could have found my father. If not, she printed an unconfirmed statement as fact. Either way, she made the deliberate choice not to interview a living twin. (Remember, the chance of finding both twins alive was small because of the experimentation methods used by Mengele.) She did not find the juxtaposition of twin viewpoints as a compelling reason to seek out a living twin in the U.S. where she lived and worked. As of the date of this post, Ms. Lagnado has yet to reply to my assertions on her journalistic decisions.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Eugene

    Definitely not what I expected, but not in a bad way either. After reading some of the reviews I was prepared for horror stories, violence, and emotion. The book incorporated these factors maybe once or twice. It made for some very cold, factual reading, all of which centered on Josef Mengele, despite the title of the book. Which is not to say that that's a bad thing, but don't expect it to read like a novel, because it's more like a history book/documentary type than anything else. So let me ma Definitely not what I expected, but not in a bad way either. After reading some of the reviews I was prepared for horror stories, violence, and emotion. The book incorporated these factors maybe once or twice. It made for some very cold, factual reading, all of which centered on Josef Mengele, despite the title of the book. Which is not to say that that's a bad thing, but don't expect it to read like a novel, because it's more like a history book/documentary type than anything else. So let me make this clear - this is a biography of Mengele, not the twins he performed experiments on. Although his life story was told in counterpoint to the lives of the surviving twins, they were not the focal point of the book. Their only contributions were occasional blurbs or short stories, which only served to interrupt the flow of Mengele's biography. While their accounts were emotional, the twins did not have a major role in the book, and were undeveloped as characters - presented only as victims and survivors, not as people - and I would have liked to hear more about them and their experiences rather than Mengele's life. Finally, I don't think that enough pages were devoted to the actual events of WWII; rather, the authors give precedence to Mengele's activity after the war, much of which is purely speculative because he was never caught and always in hiding. History was never really my best subject in school, so I found the book a very hard read, and difficult to follow along with.

  4. 4 out of 5

    ♥ Marlene♥

    Not sure what to think of this book. It was definitely interesting but I expected to hear more about the twins and Mengele (see the title) while in Auschwitz. This story was more about Mengele. (He is not a doctor as the authors mentioned in this book, so why call him a doctor in the title I do not understand by the way) This book was most about Mengele life after the war. It got confusing to me reading about the twins because of the way the book was written. Every time at least one twins story w Not sure what to think of this book. It was definitely interesting but I expected to hear more about the twins and Mengele (see the title) while in Auschwitz. This story was more about Mengele. (He is not a doctor as the authors mentioned in this book, so why call him a doctor in the title I do not understand by the way) This book was most about Mengele life after the war. It got confusing to me reading about the twins because of the way the book was written. Every time at least one twins story will be there but then you have to go back to see which twin was this again?) As someone else said. it is sad and there are so many of these sad stories tons of books could be written about it. We should not forget. 3.5 stars

  5. 4 out of 5

    Joletta

    Not for the faint of heart. This book is a really interesting story of Dr Mengele. History like this should never be forgotten or overlooked.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Dem

    review to follow

  7. 4 out of 5

    Hermien

    Alternating passages between recollections of the twins and biographical details of Mengele's life worked well and kept the book interesting to the end.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Christie

    A disturbing yet truly interesting account of Dr. Josef Mengele and the twins who were personally selected subjects for his heinous medical experiments at Auschwitz. There is a common thread that binds these twins who survived Auschwitz and that is that many of them suffer from nightmares, an inability to find enjoyment in life's precious and simple moments, a sense of survivor's guilt and anger that Dr. Mengele was never formally prosecuted for war crimes and crimes against humanity, even in ab A disturbing yet truly interesting account of Dr. Josef Mengele and the twins who were personally selected subjects for his heinous medical experiments at Auschwitz. There is a common thread that binds these twins who survived Auschwitz and that is that many of them suffer from nightmares, an inability to find enjoyment in life's precious and simple moments, a sense of survivor's guilt and anger that Dr. Mengele was never formally prosecuted for war crimes and crimes against humanity, even in absentia. Mengele "fell through the cracks" of the justice system and was able to flee Germany and live out his existence in exile in South America. It wasn't until the mid 1980's that the fervor to hunt him down and bring him up on charges came about and this was instigated by one of the "twins of Auschwitz". In the end, though Mengele was never captured or convicted by a court of law, he did lose his family and his fortune, and his medical degrees were stripped while his mentor and many other former Nazis went on to lead successful and fulfilling lives after the war. Many twins refuse to believe that Mengele is actually dead and feel he was too smart to ever have been captured. Those who are interested in hearing more about the twins and their lives in the camps as well as the difficulties they had after returning home from Auschwitz should view the documentary, "Forgiving Dr. Mengele". This emotional documentary tells of Eva Mozes, who is featured in this book, and her long journey to find it within herself to forgive Dr. Mengele. http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0489707/ and here is my review of the documentary: http://www.bookshopsdriveinsandjive.c...

  9. 5 out of 5

    Maureen

    I always worried that if I read books about the holocaust, it would make me some kind of grisly voyeur. Since I spent the summer reading about the history of the second World War, and have done a lot of thinking about the topic, I that I was finally capable of truly putting the holocaust in its proper context. This is the latest in a series of books I have read on this and the related subjects of genocide and ethnic cleansing. This book is laid out in an unusual fashion: it alternates between me I always worried that if I read books about the holocaust, it would make me some kind of grisly voyeur. Since I spent the summer reading about the history of the second World War, and have done a lot of thinking about the topic, I that I was finally capable of truly putting the holocaust in its proper context. This is the latest in a series of books I have read on this and the related subjects of genocide and ethnic cleansing. This book is laid out in an unusual fashion: it alternates between memories of the twin survivors and a chronology of the life of Josef Mengele, a.k.a. "The Angel of Death." Wasn't it Hannah Arendt who coined the phase, "the banality of evil," first used in her book on Eichmann in Jerusalem? That is a perfect description of the damned doctor. The twins' memories are painful to hear at times. Since almost all of them were little children, their recollections are a pastiche of remembering the doctor who would give them candy and pat them on the head before making them submit to unbelievably barbarous "procedures," and their sweet recollections of their mothers and fathers, for whom they constantly searched. Thankfully, the details of the actual "experiments" are few. What was there, through, shocked me to the core. To think that a human being could stoop to Mengele's level is very, very hard to even begin to comprehend. I highly recommend this book.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Rowan MacBean

    Let me start out by saying, if you have any interest in this subject at all, give this book a read. It focuses on the people involved, instead of on the particulars of what took place, so I was able to absorb a lot of information and still come away from it actually thinking instead of just having nightmares. It's one of the most approachable and interestingly put together books on this subject I've ever found; the facts about Mengele are given in a story-like format instead of in an overly stuf Let me start out by saying, if you have any interest in this subject at all, give this book a read. It focuses on the people involved, instead of on the particulars of what took place, so I was able to absorb a lot of information and still come away from it actually thinking instead of just having nightmares. It's one of the most approachable and interestingly put together books on this subject I've ever found; the facts about Mengele are given in a story-like format instead of in an overly stuffy and scholarly manner and first-hand accounts and memories from more than a dozen survivors are interspersed throughout. Their personal tales of overcoming adversity and continuing to live after their suffering contrast sharply with the description of Mengele's decades-long downward spiral following the end of the war. Usually, after I've read a non-fiction book, that's the end of it. I feel I've learned what I could and I either stick it on a shelf and forget it exists if I wasn't impressed or I pass it on to someone else who I think might appreciate the knowledge. This one, I'm planning on re-reading. It was interesting, informative, and touching, and once I picked it up I had a hard time putting it down.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Charlie

    This is a Good book to read simply because of the notes from the 'Twins of Auschwitz.' I think there is way too much info on Josef Mengele, a ruthless killer, and not enough info on the Twins story. The Twins story begins as they entered Auschwitz and ends on what their current circumstances were at the publishing date of 1991. I could easily have rated this book as a 3 but the letters/interviews were well worth the reading of this book.

  12. 5 out of 5

    MAP

    This was an odd little book. The premise is quite interesting: it follows the Mengele twins' (the ones the author could find) lives before, during, and after Auschwitz, and follows Mengele's life as well. The author creates what another viewer called a "documentary style" book, where as Mengele's life unfolds, so do the twins...so for example, as Mengele flees Germany to go to Argentina, we also "cut to" several of the twins' accounts of their own flight from Germany to Israel/Western Europe/the This was an odd little book. The premise is quite interesting: it follows the Mengele twins' (the ones the author could find) lives before, during, and after Auschwitz, and follows Mengele's life as well. The author creates what another viewer called a "documentary style" book, where as Mengele's life unfolds, so do the twins...so for example, as Mengele flees Germany to go to Argentina, we also "cut to" several of the twins' accounts of their own flight from Germany to Israel/Western Europe/the US, as Mengele remarries, we "cut to" several twins' accounts of their romances and marriages, etc. And in a visual style, this would have been brilliant. Unfortunately, written, it is extremely confusing. The twins' stories are all very similar, and you quickly forget who's who and how their story of moving to Israel/getting married/having children differed from the last person you read, or what their childhood story was, or anything like that. If you were watching it on television and were able to put a face with a name every time their story was told, it would be brilliant and gripping to follow; as so, they all started to blend together.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Claire

    I seem to be reading a lot of books with different timelines and perspectives. This book tells the life story of Nazi Dr. Josef Mengele, interspersed with short conversations with some of the surviving twins of Auschwitz, 'Mengele's Children'. It doesn't have universally good reviews on GR for a reason and there's some controversy over it here but I enjoyed (as much as you can a book about the Holocaust) it.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Gary

    This harrowing book traces both the life of 'the angel of death', the psycopathic monster, Dr Josef Mengele, and his victims who survived. Mengele carried out a range of horrific experiments on a range of people, mainly twins. particularly Jewish and Gipsey children, and various others. As Mengele's life is described, so is the life of the survivors, the horrors that they experienced at Auschwitz and how they lived in the decades afterwards. "Most of the twins began their descent into Auschwitz by This harrowing book traces both the life of 'the angel of death', the psycopathic monster, Dr Josef Mengele, and his victims who survived. Mengele carried out a range of horrific experiments on a range of people, mainly twins. particularly Jewish and Gipsey children, and various others. As Mengele's life is described, so is the life of the survivors, the horrors that they experienced at Auschwitz and how they lived in the decades afterwards. "Most of the twins began their descent into Auschwitz by witnessing their entire families being led away from them to be killed. In their special barracks, located just yards away from the crematoriums, they observed the Nazis' extermination of Jews at close range. Twins as young as five and six years of age endured torture, daily blood tests and starvation diets, as well as facing exposure to epidemics of cholera, tuberculosis and other deadly diseases that were rampant because of unsanitary conditions. Worst of all, of course, were the Mengele's barbaric pseudoscientific experiments. But as horrific as their lives were the twins enjoyed a special privileged status, for they were regarded as "Mengele's children". And as such they were spared the random selections and march to the gas chambers that threatened every other Auschwitz inmate'. The testimony of a handful of survivors illustrates the horror of Mengele and Auschwitz, and the scars of the experiences suffered by his victims, and how they experienced them through their lives. In the testimony of Moshe Offer, who was twelve years old at the time: 'When they opened the doors to our cattle cars, there were lots of dead children. During the trip, some mothers couldn't bare to hear the sound of their hungry babies-and so they killed them. I remember two blond, very beautiful children in my car, whose mother had choked them to death because she could not stand to watch them suffer'. Eva Mozes, who was nine years old at the time, recounts how, at Auschwitz-Birkenau, she and her twin sister were packed into filthy, rat infested barracks, together with hundreds of other little girls. She remembers seeing three dead children on the ground. Later they would always be finding dead children on the floor of the latrines. From their barracks they could see huge, smoking chimneys rising high above the camp. There were glowing flames rising above them. ' " Why are they burning so late in the evening?" I asked the other children. "The Germans are burning people they answered". Twins Hedvah and Leah Stern. who were thirteen years old at the time, recount how Mengele tried to change the colour of their eyes:' One day we were given eye drops. Afterwards, we could not see for several days. We though the Nazis had made us blind. We were very frightened of the experiments. They took a lot of blood from us. We fainted several times, and the SS guards were very amused. We were not very developed. The Nazis made us remove our clothes and they took photographs of us. The SS guards would point to us and laugh. We stood naked in front of these young Nazi thugs, shaking from cold and fear, and they laughed." The first few chapters of the book deal with Mengele's role in Auschwitz itself, and the rest of the book relates Eichmann's experience in hiding in South America, and the way the surviving twins built up lives and families for themselves, most of them in Israel, while the nightmare of Auschwitz would scar and effect them forever.Most of the twins longed to emigrate to the Land of Israel, then the British Colony of Palestine. They soon found that the Communist rulers of their former homes in lands like Czechoslovakia, Hungary and Romania, were hostile to the Jewish people too, and pesecuted those who wanted to go to Israel and those who wanted to hold onto their Jewish faith, as 'Zionists'. Thus developed that form of Leftist anti-Semitism known as anti-Zionism, which was incubated by the Soviet Union, and is endemic among the international left today. The rest of the book deals with how Mengele dwindled in exile into a neurotic and bitter non-being. The surivors describe their lives in Israel and elsewhere, after the war, their often fearful behaviour, their nightmares and their treatment, and also how they built up new lives and families, which live on in the Jewish homeland. Mengele died after suffering a stroke and drowning in 1979, in Brazil.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Vitaliy

    "Children of The Flames" I always think when im going to read a book I’m not going to like it, especially when it’s about the Holocaust! Before I read this book just reading the title “Children of The Flames” sounded very terrifying, because it sounds like it’s going to be about burning children! This book set up in a way such as memories of the twin survivors and the life of Josef Mengele, or know as "The Angel of Death!" The twins' memories are very sad and painful to hear sometimes. Since most "Children of The Flames" I always think when im going to read a book I’m not going to like it, especially when it’s about the Holocaust! Before I read this book just reading the title “Children of The Flames” sounded very terrifying, because it sounds like it’s going to be about burning children! This book set up in a way such as memories of the twin survivors and the life of Josef Mengele, or know as "The Angel of Death!" The twins' memories are very sad and painful to hear sometimes. Since most of them were little children, the kids would take candy from the doctor before the procedure not realizing what was going to happen to them! This was very heartbreaking and cruel in many ways. People got away and survived, but way too many children were lost and never found again! I cannot believe that Mengele never got caught and I am pretty sure he would have been killed for the things he has done. I think this book can be very disturbing due to the horrible experiments that were done on the twins, but also I think this book could be a eye opener to people that want to learn more about the Holocaust. Overall I really enjoyed this book, because I learned many things, but I also realized that there are some very cruel people in this world an that people should be thankful for what they have and not take things for granted because these twins for sure didn’t! I highly recommend this book to everyone!

  16. 4 out of 5

    Gretchen

    What to say about this book? So awful to read, but important. I like the way the writer structured it with the biographical information of Mengele in between accounts of survivors. It drew attention to how severely twisted he was, and how nothing forced him or cajoled him into being so, he just was. He had a relatively normal life before WWII. The book draws light on part of the Holocaust that isn't as well known. Also, it shows how inept some of the prosecution of the Nazis was, as Mengele was What to say about this book? So awful to read, but important. I like the way the writer structured it with the biographical information of Mengele in between accounts of survivors. It drew attention to how severely twisted he was, and how nothing forced him or cajoled him into being so, he just was. He had a relatively normal life before WWII. The book draws light on part of the Holocaust that isn't as well known. Also, it shows how inept some of the prosecution of the Nazis was, as Mengele was able to live out the rest of his life in relative comfort. Sometimes books aren't fun to read, but necessary to understand just how evil humans are capable of being. And its good to read about something different than what we usually discuss because it makes the Holocaust more vivid, and keeps us from growing accustomed or even accepting of thoughts of it. We can't ever just let it be a passing mention in history, we must be vigilant.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Terri Lynn

    This book has staggered and stunned me, leaving my emotions like damp washrags in a heap. This non-fiction book was written by an author who tracked down some of the remaining twins from Josef Mengele's infamous twin experiences at Aschwitz-Birkenau which was no easy task as out of 3,000 twins, only around 88 had survived and only because the Russians liberated the camp. They went through many interviews and this book tells their stories in their own words, intertwined with Mengele's own life st This book has staggered and stunned me, leaving my emotions like damp washrags in a heap. This non-fiction book was written by an author who tracked down some of the remaining twins from Josef Mengele's infamous twin experiences at Aschwitz-Birkenau which was no easy task as out of 3,000 twins, only around 88 had survived and only because the Russians liberated the camp. They went through many interviews and this book tells their stories in their own words, intertwined with Mengele's own life story. It is incredible to discover that despite the torment he put them through, even now many twins are convinced Mengele loved them. A must-read for those interested in World War II and the Holocaust.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Lori Anderson

    Oh boy. This is a truly sobering read. Twins were Mengele's favorite subject, and his experiments were truly horrific. What's interesting about this book is through the words of the surviving twins, we learn how some of them grew to trust Mengele, in large part because he kept them from the crematoriums. It's also an interesting insight into Mengele himself, how he grew up, and how he handled himself at the camps. The point of a finger, and he rules lives. Lori Anderson Blog Shop Facebook Oh boy. This is a truly sobering read. Twins were Mengele's favorite subject, and his experiments were truly horrific. What's interesting about this book is through the words of the surviving twins, we learn how some of them grew to trust Mengele, in large part because he kept them from the crematoriums. It's also an interesting insight into Mengele himself, how he grew up, and how he handled himself at the camps. The point of a finger, and he rules lives. Lori Anderson Blog Shop Facebook

  19. 5 out of 5

    Ali

    Great book. Heart breaking. Disgusting. But strangely hopeful too. People got away and survived but alas way too many children were lost. I cannot believe that Mengele never got caught and I felt quite angry about this but then I realised if he had been caught he would have been hung - with no time given to think about the horrors he did. He lived yes, when maybe he really didn't deserve to but it was maybe karma coming into play that life never really went that well for him again. This book shows the Great book. Heart breaking. Disgusting. But strangely hopeful too. People got away and survived but alas way too many children were lost. I cannot believe that Mengele never got caught and I felt quite angry about this but then I realised if he had been caught he would have been hung - with no time given to think about the horrors he did. He lived yes, when maybe he really didn't deserve to but it was maybe karma coming into play that life never really went that well for him again. This book shows the truely horrific side to human nature, and the courage of those that survived.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Claire Rosette

    I'm a little disappointed that this book largely centred around Mengele. Details regarding the twins who experienced Auschwitz was at best sketchy. What actually happened to each twin, what experiments did they undergo? I'm none the wiser. I do however know an awful lot about Mengele's life after the war and how he evaded capture! This book has left me wanting to know more about the victims, not the perpetrator.

  21. 4 out of 5

    Sarah

    A must read. So different to a lot of the holocaust books I've read, this book gives you an insight to what happened to twins during this period as well as through the years after the war as well as 'the angel of death' dr Josef mengele. Think it is very well written and didn't find it hard to keep up with the author as she switched between the dr and the different twins like some others have mentioned. Definately one to read.

  22. 4 out of 5

    BookAholic12

    For more go to http://marwez.blogg.se/?tmp=723733 For more go to http://marwez.blogg.se/?tmp=723733

  23. 5 out of 5

    Erik Graff

    Those arriving at Auschwitz-Birkenau towards the end of the war were separated into two groups, one to live, the other to be gassed. Mengele, an S.S. physician studying genetics on behalf of Nazi race 'science', would participate in this process, selecting out persons of interest, many of them twins, most of them children. This book is a biography of the notorious doctor interspersed with the recollections of some of his surviving (about 10%) subjects, chronologically arranged. This juxtapositio Those arriving at Auschwitz-Birkenau towards the end of the war were separated into two groups, one to live, the other to be gassed. Mengele, an S.S. physician studying genetics on behalf of Nazi race 'science', would participate in this process, selecting out persons of interest, many of them twins, most of them children. This book is a biography of the notorious doctor interspersed with the recollections of some of his surviving (about 10%) subjects, chronologically arranged. This juxtaposition of the lives of victims with those of their victimizer works well in impressing upon the reader the real substance of racist and medical evil. What I found particularly moving, however, were the accounts of having survived the camps, particularly those involving those charitable soldiers, Soviet, American, even German, who helped the children. As so often arises in accounts of liberation, my heart swelled with something approaching patriotic pride in reading Europeans describing the behavior of our boys. This is not an emotion often experienced nowadays.

  24. 5 out of 5

    Dena Atchley

    Wow! Definitely delivers as an engrossing, honest look at a bit of the holocaust. Harrowing, desperately sad, tragic, horrifying, truthful. The tales from the survivors and the telling of history combine seamlessly to provide a look into these horrific events.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Pamela Shropshire

    It seems wrong somehow to categorize this book as fascinating - horrifying, tragic, devastating, but, yes, fascinating, too. In addition to bits about the twins at Auschwitz, this book is primarily a biography of Josef Mengele. Whenever one hears about a heinous crime, one always wonders: how could a person do such an awful thing? Of course, very seldom do we find a satisfactory answer, and that is the case here. How is it possible that so many educated, cultured human beings could perpetrate mass It seems wrong somehow to categorize this book as fascinating - horrifying, tragic, devastating, but, yes, fascinating, too. In addition to bits about the twins at Auschwitz, this book is primarily a biography of Josef Mengele. Whenever one hears about a heinous crime, one always wonders: how could a person do such an awful thing? Of course, very seldom do we find a satisfactory answer, and that is the case here. How is it possible that so many educated, cultured human beings could perpetrate mass murder? How could a man like Josef Mengele, a doctor, lover of art and music, take pleasure in committing such atrocities against innocent children, these twins who came through Auschwitz? It's a question that can never be answered. One can only marvel that the survivors of such barbarity were able to have some semblance of a normal life, although most of the twins report both physical and mental disturbances - fears, difficulty in sleeping, illnesses. I found it rather ironic that the book reported that Mengele suffered from sleeplessness and paranoia, very similar to that experienced by his victims. It's natural to want to punish a perpetrator for his crimes - to obtain a measure of justice for the victims. However, who is to say that perhaps Mengele suffered more by living in "freedom" than if he had been caught? He wasn't happy living in exile from his family, far from his homeland. Did he deserve to suffer more? Undoubtedly. But perhaps it's some comfort to his victims that Mengele didn't get off scott free even though he was never formally punished. I don't know whether Mengele drowned in 1979 or whether the recovered skeletal remains actually are his. Nevertheless he is doubtless dead by now, as he deserves to be. Humanity must never forget his horrible crimes.

  26. 4 out of 5

    Trinity Mauer

    Most people have a story to tell about their past, but the people from Auschwitz have a more unique story than you think. In the book Children of Flames by Lucette Matalon Lagnado it talks about some of the untold stories of the twins in Aushwitz and stories about Dr. Josef Mengele. The detail the author captured from the stories the twins told is astounding. When they talk about all of the experiments they went thought, it was in great detail. The author was able to capture the scenes well and Most people have a story to tell about their past, but the people from Auschwitz have a more unique story than you think. In the book Children of Flames by Lucette Matalon Lagnado it talks about some of the untold stories of the twins in Aushwitz and stories about Dr. Josef Mengele. The detail the author captured from the stories the twins told is astounding. When they talk about all of the experiments they went thought, it was in great detail. The author was able to capture the scenes well and was able to make the reader feel like they were apart. The twins always talked about how it was cold outside. After the war, the author was able to write in great detail what the twins unique personalities were like. Some of the twins, after the war, were very scared and were not able to stop thinking about what had happened to them. This book was very informative of what has gone on in the past. The true stories from real survivors made it more personal to the reader and to understand better on what happened.

  27. 5 out of 5

    SundayAtDusk

    It took me years to get up the nerve to read this book. I don't even know for sure why I wanted to read it. Holocaust books often make me ill. Finally, a few months ago, I did read Children of the Flames. Fortunately, there were not too many graphic descriptions of the "medical" experiments, so I could make it through the whole book. Towards the end, however, it seemed far more like a book on Mengele than on the twins. In fact, it started reading like a book on Mengele's "retirement years"! Thus It took me years to get up the nerve to read this book. I don't even know for sure why I wanted to read it. Holocaust books often make me ill. Finally, a few months ago, I did read Children of the Flames. Fortunately, there were not too many graphic descriptions of the "medical" experiments, so I could make it through the whole book. Towards the end, however, it seemed far more like a book on Mengele than on the twins. In fact, it started reading like a book on Mengele's "retirement years"! Thus, I don't feel Ms. Lagnado and Mrs. Dekel were the best writers for the job of writing about him. They did not go anywhere near as deep into his psyche as they should have. I think they should have just concentrated on the twins' stories and their memories of the doctor, and left Mengele's life story to those with keener knowledge and deeper insight about the nature of his evilness. In other words . . . not trying to be sexist here . . . they should have left Josef Mengele's story to the big boys.

  28. 5 out of 5

    Gayle Francis Moffet

    An excellent biography of Mengele that is framed around interview excerpts from the twins he experimented on and tortured in Auschwitz. The juxtaposition of what the twins went through--first at the camps, and then in the many years after--and Mengele's own life is a study in sharp contrasts. Where the twins struggle after the war, Mengele thrives courtesy of Pro-Nazi sentiment in South America. But, as the twins keep living and keep existing, Mengele's own fortune starts to turn against him. Af An excellent biography of Mengele that is framed around interview excerpts from the twins he experimented on and tortured in Auschwitz. The juxtaposition of what the twins went through--first at the camps, and then in the many years after--and Mengele's own life is a study in sharp contrasts. Where the twins struggle after the war, Mengele thrives courtesy of Pro-Nazi sentiment in South America. But, as the twins keep living and keep existing, Mengele's own fortune starts to turn against him. After the war, of course, they never saw him again, and the author does not paint some connection of the two outcomes. Instead, what you see are the intensely human stories of the twins and the way Mengele's own decision to stay inhuman (that is, to stay pro-Nazi) led to his sad, isolated life as the twins fought through the bad and the good to be more than just Mengele's experiments.

  29. 4 out of 5

    Madelyn

    This was a very insightful read into the events that created the "Angel of Death" of the concentration camps. I was initially worried if it would hold my interest, the way it was formatted took a moment to get used to. Definitely worth the read, once you get hooked in it just flows on, and on, until you realize you just got done with the last page!

  30. 5 out of 5

    Cheryl

    I had higher hopes for this book. It was horrific, this moment in time, and reading about what these kids went through is gut-wrenching. Still, I think we need to keep reading about it, keep learning. That said, I think I need to read the book about the nurse. I think with her story, I might get a better understanding. The back and forth between the stories the children told and the Angle of Death, in the end I found to be more of a distraction. Perhaps because I know more about that part of the I had higher hopes for this book. It was horrific, this moment in time, and reading about what these kids went through is gut-wrenching. Still, I think we need to keep reading about it, keep learning. That said, I think I need to read the book about the nurse. I think with her story, I might get a better understanding. The back and forth between the stories the children told and the Angle of Death, in the end I found to be more of a distraction. Perhaps because I know more about that part of the story? I don't know. I didn't mind it at first, but once he was in South America, I felt like the book became too much about him.

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