Auschwitz Survivor Remembers Encounter With Monstrous Nazi Doctor Josef Mengele
The great Italian Jewish writer Primo Levi famously wrote that a Nazi guard at the Auschwitz concentration camp told him, “Hier ist kein warum — there is no why here.” As the 70th anniversary of the liberation of the Auschwitz approaches on January 27th, survivors are still recalling, and trying to make sense of, their horrors they experienced.
One of them is London-based Sam Pivnik. This week, Pivnik recalled the moment he encountered Dr. Josef Mengele, the Nazi monster who conducted sinister medical “experiments” on Jewish and other camp inmates.
“Mengele was wearing his white coat and making his rounds, I was shaking with terror,” Pivnik, who was just 14 years old at the time, said. “We all knew anyone not able to stand by their beds was for the gas. He came to me and his finger pointed to the left, the gas chamber.”
Pivnik continued: “I burst into tears and threw myself at his feet. I think I even kissed his boots. Mengele hated to be touched by Jews and I could have faced a bullet for that. To this day I don’t know why, but he moved away. Later I was told I could stay.”
In 2012, Pivnik published “Survivor,” a harrowing memoir of his plight at the hands of the Nazis.
“My generation won’t be here forever and one day all there will be of us will be words on a printed page. Sam Pivnik is nobody: just one of millions,” he explained. “But the story of Sam Pivnik – I hope that will live on.”