War broke out in 1939, but the troupe of traveling musicians (seven dwarfs and their two full-sized sisters) continued performing for the next four years, using documents that omitted the fact that they were Jews.
They were on tour when in March 1944, when Hitler invaded Hungary. They returned immediately to their hometown.
In 1944 the Jewish Dwarfs return to the town of Signet, where they see Nazi’s clubbing Jews. Luckily the Germans were mesmerized by them, and help them on their train to home.
Nazis gave us a comfortable flat with a hidden back entrance, so that the German officers could sneak through. Every night we had to play, sing and entertain them. “Who could be merry at a time like this, knowing our people were being murdered?” she says. “But we had no choice. They brought crates of beer and liquor. They used to leave, staggeringly drunk, in the early hours of the morning, leaving us exhausted.”
One brother, Leon, who was not a dwarf, was executed. Soon after his wife, and baby daughter, were gassed in Auschwitz.
On May 15, 1944, all the twelve members were taken by a horse and carriage to the train, and off to Auschwitz. They must have been valuable because they were behind the Russian front lines.
An intrigued Mengele greets the dwarf family among the milling crowds at the entrance ramp to Auschwitz.
But in the chaos, they were dragged straight to the gas chamber. ‘We were standing naked, men and women; when the heavy metal door slammed behind us and we started smelling the gas pouring in, Perla recalled.
‘Suddenly, through the fog, we heard shouts. “The dwarfs! Where are the dwarfs?” ‘Vomiting from the gas, they were freed.
Mengele wanted to decipher the secrets of human growth and he conducted his vile tests on them. Blood was taken from their veins, bone marrow drawn from their spine, hairs plucked, molars extracted, drops sprinkled into their eyes, hot and cold water pumped into their ears, needles inserted into various nerve centers, electrodes attached to their heads. Large quantities of various unknown liquids were injected into the wombs of those sisters who were married.
Even though Mengele grew attached to one year-old ‘Baby Samson’, he still experimented on the child.
She described how, chillingly, Mengele used to chant a little rhyme he made up for her family: ‘Over the hills and seven mountains, there my seven dwarfs do dwell.’
Mengele brought them to a auditorium packed with hundreds of senior officers. He had them line in the middle of the stage, when suddenly Mengele shouted, “Take off your clothes!”
They stood there, seven nude dwarfs, as the Nazis ogled at their little bodies.
He even made a film of them which was sent to Hitler for his amusement at his mountain retreat.
The Ovitzes also witnessed two newcomer dwarfs being boiled to bones to be exhibited in a museum.
The ‘Little People’ walked for seven months and 250 miles to get to their homes.
In 1955, sick through the experiments they endured, they performed for the last time. With the money they had gained they moved to a large flat and bought two cinemas and a café.
Triumph Over Tragedy
Mengele and his seven dwarfs. Injecting blue dye in their eyes, taking bone marrow, pouring freezing water in their ears (ouch!). Parading them nude, on stage, as 300 SS officers ogled them. Mengele running into the gas chamber, dragging them out, and giving them the life saving milk.
Then there is the horror of watching Mengele boil two fellow dwarfs alive. If it wasn’t in Wikipedia, I would almost find it hard to believe.