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October 15, 2013

New documentary film about Klara Wizel, a Holocaust survivor who escaped from Auschwitz-Birkenau

Filed under: Holocaust, movies — Tags: , , , — furtherglory @ 1:02 pm

You can read all about Klara Wizel’s new book at

You can hear Danny Naten, the man who made a documentary film of Klara’s story, speak at

This quote is from the website, which gives a synopsis of the Klara’s book:

As the Russian front approaches, Mengele and the Nazi’s selection process speed up. Klara finds herself sick, weak, tired and not able to eat. Naked, she is brought before Mengele, a tall Rock Hudson-handsome man who ideally would have been asking for her hand instead of deciding her fate. Klara was wowed by his presence and hardly realized that Mengele had deemed her unfit and sentenced her to die [in] the gas chamber. As Klara is taken away with approximately seventy other women her sisters Hedy and Rose scream and cry as she is dragged off, for they know this is her death.
Yet, somehow sick and dying on a snowy night, now 17 year old Klara Wizel not only escaped the gas chamber, but she also smuggles herself out of Auschwitz. She’s the only Holocaust survivor of record to ever escape Dr. Josef Mengele’s selection process. Her escape and journey through war torn Europe to get back home to her small home town of Sighet is one of the most inspiring stories of that time.

Whoa! Did you catch that?  Klara is from Sighet, a town in Transylvania (Romania), which is also the home town of Elie Wiesel.  She pronounces her name Vee-Zell, the same as Elie Wiesel.  What a coincidence!

This quote is from Wikipedia:

According to the 1910 census, the city [Sighet] had 21,370 inhabitants; these consisted of 17,542 (82.1%) Hungarian speakers, 2,002 (9.4%) Romanian, 1,257 (5.9%) German, and 32 Ruthenian speakers.

Klara is now 84 years old, and she is just now telling her story to a documentary film maker, and writing a book.  Eli Wiesel does not speak Hungarian, and Klara Wizel probably doesn’t speak Hungarian either.

According to Klara’s story, she arrived at Auschwitz-Birkenau at night and went through a selection by Dr. Mengele immediately.  She describes Dr. Mengele as being Rock Hudson-handsome, tall and thin.

Wait a minute!  Dr. Mengele was TALL? Not compared to most German men, and not compared to Rock Hudson.

The photo below shows Dr. Mengele standing alongside other SS men at Auschwitz-Birkenau.  He is the shortest one of the bunch.

Dr. Mengele is the man on the far right, holding a cigarette at chest height

Dr. Mengele is the man on the far right, holding a cigarette at chest height

The gas chamber in the Auschwitz main camp

The gas chamber in the Auschwitz main camp has a glass window in the door

An old black and white photo of the Auschwitz gas chamber, to which Dr. Mengele allegedly sent Klara, is shown in a preview of the documentary. My color photo above, taken in 1998, shows the same view of the gas chamber, which is in the main Auschwitz camp, not the Auschwitz-Birkenau camp.  Did Dr. Mengele send her to the main camp to be gassed?  Or did Klara get mixed up in her story?

Did Klara escape the gas chamber by breaking the glass in the door and opening the door?  You will have to buy the book to find out.

To get back to the beginning of Klara’s story, this quote is from the start of the description of her book:

At the tender age of 16, Klara Wizel had a picturesque life with a loving and supportive family. There was no way to know that the Holocaust was creeping toward her and that soon this young Hungarian Jew would be fighting for her life due to the most notorious doctor of the 20th century, Dr. Josef Mengele.
Swept up in a week long deportation process along with fifteen thousand other Hungarian Jews, Klara and her family arrive on cold night at the infamous Auschwitz/Berkenau concentration camp after a three day journey with no food or water. There she and her family would first meet Josef Mengele who would later become known as the Great Selector.
That night Mengele selected Klara’s mother Frida, father Icik her older sister Ancy and younger brother Mortho to die in the gas chamber sending the adolescent Klara and two of her sisters Hedy and Rose to be housed like animals in the women’s barracks of Auschwitz. Dr. Mengele, who was in charge of the women’s barracks, would become the chief provider for the gas chambers and order gruesome experiments on children that often maimed or killed his Jewish subjects. Like a blood hound, Mengele, also known as the murderer in white, searched out those who were too old or too sick to survive his cruel science and those who served no purpose to the Nazi regime. As Klara Wizel would later say, “Day or night you never knew when he would show, the ovens were always burning around the clock.”

Note that Klara called Dr. Mengele the “Great Selector” and the “chief provider.”  There were 30 doctors who did the selections at Auschwitz-Birkenau, but Dr. Mengele is the most famous of the 30 doctors.

In her book entitled Five Chimneys, Lengyel wrote that Dr. Fritz Klein was the “Chief Selector.” But what does she know? Dr. Klein was also known for having “nice manners,” so Dr. Mengele and Dr. Klein might have been mixed up by the prisoners.

Dr. Fritz Klein was put on trial by the British for his crime of selecting prisoners for the gas chamber at Auschwitz

Dr. Fritz Klein was put on trial by the British for his crime of selecting prisoners for the gas chamber at Auschwitz

I wonder if Klara has a tattoo?  Like Eli, another survivor with a last name that is pronounced Vee-Zell, maybe she somehow got by without being tattooed.

Klara’s description of Dr. Mengele does not ring true. He was not as handsome as Rock Hudson.  He was more “handsome is as handsome does,” meaning that he was very charming.  All of the survivors described him as a man who had “nice manners,” and as a caring person, who was particularly nice to the children, bringing them chocolates and hair ribbons.

You can read more about Dr. Josef Mengele at

The Klara Wizel Story has a facebook page at

Famous Holocaust survivor Irene Zisblatt also has a facebook page at