on October 31, 2003
if you are ready to have some real insight on what it was like- you have to read this book.this book is written in a fascinating style. the way both views are combined deserves utmost respect. i read this book in just about one afternoon. i couldn't put it away until finished. the most important aspect was to see the children's lifes unfold after the war and also that of Mengele. i am somewhat, but not completely gratified about how Mengele lived out the rest of his life, solitary and haunted. i wish he would have been brought to justice, it would have given more closure to a lot of people; but knowing how he spend the rest of his life separated from family, stripped of his titles , ridden by ailments etc. , gives some gratification (not enough 'though!)what troubles me is the the fact that he never had regret for the things he'd done- justified by pseudo-science. i'm sure he's burning in hell himself now. for "his twins" life was hard and difficult- how can someone live with such memories? but defying it they built lifes for themselves and had families, although somwhere, somehow a part in the puzzle is always missing.
having read many books concerning WW II, and living the war through my parents' eyes - i have to say that this one touched me very deeply.
i was born and raised in germany and grew up with the history of my country. my parents were both children during the second world war, so i carry their memories of the war as mine.my mother herself is a fugitive from hungary - it is hard for her to talk about that. her family lost everything as well, when the russians came. i live with their accounts of what life was like for them, now i can add memories of others to that -it is heartwrenching and very hard to conceive that all this happened, but it did. my heart aches and bleeds, but we all must deal with it and make certain that it will not be repeated. as we must remember all the victims of this war and any other war, we must teach our children about the past. it should never be forgotten.
we have to know history in order for us to not let it be repeated.
on June 22, 2001
This is a factual, readable, and thought-provoking book about Mengele's twin experiments at Auschwitz. I was VERY frustrated that in all of the photos in the book, there was not one of Mengele himself. There was a lot of description about his appearance, but no picture of the man. Also, while the post-war stories of the twins was fascinating, the actual "experiments" performed were not described in any detail. The horror of the man and his actions is real, but why he was so horribly depraved is glossed over or never mentioned. Why did some of these twins die? What had he done to them? The author never says, probably in an effort to appeal to a wider audience. What is here is good, but there is just not enough here. Some of the photos of twins in the book are never connected to text telling their stories.
on December 15, 2003
This book is definitely a fiery book, containing gruesome stories, accounts of horrid crimes, and documents of the life of Dr. Josef Mengele. This book is very deep and goes into detail of the life before the Holocaust, during the Holocaust, and after the Holocaust. This book is a must read, but may be very inappropriate for children under 13. I rate this book a 4 out of 5, due to the content and graphic images painted into my head.
on January 25, 2003
This book confused me at first, I am afraid. It took me a while to figure out what the authors were doing in jumping from information about Mengele at particular times in his life, to the words (spoken or written) of the children who suffered so much under his hands (also at that particular point in their lives). By the middle of the book, I figured out the author's use of comparison between Mengele and the children's groups to illustrate the great differences between the children growing up as adults and overcoming their past/dealing with it, while Mengele dwindled into the nothing that he really was in South America.
Of course, I'd heard or read some things about Mengele, but it was in the process of reading information about bioethics that I was introduced to this book, and decided I should read it for background on some work I'm doing, as per science and medicine and those least able to protect themselves against unethical practitioners of these 'arts'. The book does not dwell on the horrors that Mengele practiced on these children, and also on dwarves and giants and any other 'misfits' he was interested in. What information there is in the book (it was in story form, rather than professional paper format with numbers marking footnotes or endnotes...but there was additional information at the back of the book based on pages), indicates that Mengele was less of a scientist or a doctor, and more of a technician. His ideas for the experiments were quite often not his own, and he was extremely sloppy in keeping records that even had Germany won the war, would have provided genetic information of use to anyone else. I doubt sincerely any other scientist/physician could have copied his work and gotten the same results...and this is an absolute law in science now. Most often Mengele's work seemed to be done to satisfy his own curiosity as well as his obvious need to be in control and to hurt others.
The story of Mengele's exile is an living record of the book "The Picture of DOrian Grey." Though Mengele did not lose his good looks or his vanity, he did suffer from problems of his own making, both familial and psychological and physical. I am sure it is of no relief to those families and children who suffered at his hands that he was never brought to account (and I suspect the U.S. as well as other countries are all a bit guilty of blinding themselves), but the man did spend the rest of his life undergoing demeaning circumstances, losing his degrees, total alienation from his family, and numerous real and hypochondrial diseases/pains.
Perhaps the most outstanding thing about the book, other than the need to remind the world of the story of these children, is how many of them went on to create lives for themselves that were of great worth, in spite of never forgetting their deceased twins and families, or the horror of what was done to them. My heart broke for the girls who became mothers in their own right, only to suffer from extreme panic and anxiety due to their own past concerning their children. It was and is totally understandable that they should fear constantly, yet so many were able to overcome and be successful in their lives. A story of courage on their parts, a story to be remembered and not forgotten on our part.
For once again, the specter of eugenics and genetic manipulation is raising it's head throughout the world, with the passage of laws that allow others to make decisions for the individual concerning what constitutes a life of worth, what defines brain death, and even what type of children people should be able to bear...for the good of society of course. Those same words were spoken and used by Hitler, his cronies, and the physicians and scientists who so willingly followed his orders...all in the name of genetics and science. Those who forget (or do not read about their history), will be condemned to repeat it...
University of Pittsburgh
on September 19, 2002
Children of the Flames relates the true story of the twins of Auschwitz and the famous Nazi doctor of death, Josef Mengele. Upon entering Auschwitz, one of the first sights Jews saw was Dr. Mengele in his crisp uniform, cheerfully directing them to the left or right-to life or death. He was especially fascinated with twins, triplets, dwarfs, giants, and other human phenomena; any twins or other unusual children that came into Auschwitz were taken to the "Twins' Barracks;" there they lived with other children selected by Dr. Mengele and were subject to his pseudoscientific "experiments." In the operating room, he had a horrible fascination for the morbid, doing terrible things to them. However, he acted very kindly to them in their barracks, by visting them often and bringing them presents of food and clothing; some of his victims firmly believe that he really loved them as he would his children. Many of the twins lived through their years at Auschwitz, and, in this book, they tell their story of life with Dr. Mengele.
... Children of the Flames is an excellent book.
on June 18, 2001
Both my parents served in the armed forces overseas during World War II, and it was through them, as a young adult, I heard of the "children of the flames" and the horrors of the concentration camps. When the book was first published, it caught my attention for that very reason. "Children of the Flames" is not an easy book to read simply because of the subject matter. However, the authors have managed to relate the story in a way that tells of the evil acts committed but in as diplomatic a manner as possible. The attrocities are almost too bloodcurdling to conceive. For me, it was impossible to read "Children of the Flames" in one sitting, especially the interviews which actually describe life and the experiments at Auschwitz.
This is the story of Josef Mengele and his "children of Auschwitz". Selecting primarily twins (or others who caught his eye) from the multitudes of Jews headed for the gas chambers, Mengele used these innocent children to satisfy his own perverse needs, all in the name of research, as human guinea pigs for his own horrendous experiments. The book is based upon interviews with survivors of Mengele's twins, and the reader will quickly discover, there are few survivors. The interviews tell the life of survivors before capture, during their time at Auschwitz and after their release. Almost all victims have had a lifetime of horrific, unending nightmares except those who cannot remember. Those who cannot remember, and there are few, are perhaps blessed with the body's unique defence system to block out that which is too unbearable and too painful to remember.
It has been over fifty years since the Holocaust, but it will forever remain a part of our history. Perhaps we owe it to the survivors of the Holocaust, and the families of those who did not survive, to honour their memory by a book such as this. For those of us who were born after World Ward II, the book will give the reader a deeper appreciation of the freedom we have today in North America.
on November 8, 2000
A fascinating account of Nazi "scientist" and "doctor" Josef Mengele, who cheerfully "selected" thousands of Jews, Gypsies, and other people for quick death (gas chambers) or slow death (by exhaustion, malnutrition, and the filthy conditions) at Auschwitz, and who performed pseudoscientific "experiments" on many human prisoners, especially twin children. Delving into Mengele's past, as an endearing child known as "Beppo", and his life after the war (unrepetant to the end) the authors have created a fascinating portrait of this complex, twisted man. Juxtaposed with Mengele's story are the stories of the few twins who survived the experiments at Auschwitz. I found it especially poignant to see the contrast between Mengele's relatively easy life after the war--he used his family's wealth to start a successful business in South America and hobnobbed with other members of the South American Nazi "elite", and the lives of the twins after the war--most of them lost their families and lived in severe poverty, as well as being haunted throughout their lives by the horrors they suffered at Auschwitz. Highly recommended.
on August 23, 2000
Interweaving quotes from twin-survivors about their stories both during and after Auschwitz with Dr. Mengele's own biography, the authors have created a truly compelling narrative. Their central thesis -- that Mengele's obsession with twins derived from the fact that in personality he was a "twin" with angelic and sadistic sides -- is a fascinating one. Moreover, the authors are skillful in presenting anecdotes about the twin's lives that contrast with or even mirror times in Dr. Mengele's own life: i.e., the twins are desperate to leave Europe for Israel after the war; Mengele is desperate to leave Europe for South America; the twins live in broken health; Mengele becomes a hypochondriac. Thus, there is always a rich subtext to simple "stories" about the twins' lives.
Moreover, there is nothing gruesome about the book; it avoids detailed accounts of the substance of the experiments, but simply makes the point that the countless procedures performed had no medical value, and were not understood by the twins themselves.
Truly excellent and original.
on December 17, 1998
The collective recollection of twins who survived the Auschwitz Death Camp. The sinister Nazi Party under Adolf Hitler had intended from it's inception, to execute any and all Ethnic groups who were not of 'Pure' Aryian blood. It was intended that after the systematic annihilation of the Jews, Gypsies, and all Slavic people, the Nazi Party would encourage the 'Repopulation' of its lands with Pure Germanic stock. The so-called 'medical' experimentation on twins under the direct supervision of Dr. Mengele in Auschwitz, was most atrocious and horrific. This book contains vague recollections of torture of children by a deceptively handsome Dr. Mengele, who would hand candy to a child with a sincere smile and then send them to either the Gas Chambers for execution or for surgery (performed without anesthesis). This book chronicles the twins testimonies and also provides a chronology of the infamous Dr. Mengele and his 'career'. It is a numbing book to read. It is a book of horrors, and yet, it should be read by every human being regardless of age. For in a chosen ignorance of what the evil in people can do, the world is setting the stage once again for it to happen. It is happening again in countries like Bosnia even at the time of this writing. Read this book! Learn! and do not be afraid to exersize your right to complain or demonstrate your disgust when you see evil doings in your life. Freedom isn't free. It must be constantly defended and protected. God Bless all those who suffered and who continue to suffer at the hands of the Evil One. The Evildoers af the world will all kneel and answer and Pay for what they did and do now. There is a God. and revenge shall be his.
on December 10, 1997
By Joe E. White Children of the Flames chronicles the notorious medical experimental activities of Dr. Josef Mengele on approximately three thousand twins who passed through the Auschwitz death camp during WWII until its liberation at the end of the war. Only 160 of the three thousand twins survived and now fifty years later they have told their story of how they were given special privileges in Auschwitz due to Mengele's interest in twins and how as a result they have suffered during the past fifty years as the children who survived the still unknown and unexplained medical experiments and injections which they were subjected to at the hands of Josef Mengele who has come to be known as the Angel of Death.
The survivors tell how as children in Auschwitz they were visited by a smiling "Uncle Mengele" who brought them candy and clothes and then had them delivered to his medical laboratory either in trucks painted with the Red Cross emblem or in his own personal car to undergo his heinou