nobody movie_Groundbreaking testimony by the “Mengele twins” on atrocities in Birkenau to be unveiled

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Previously unseen testimonies that offer a unique glimpse into the Nazi atrocities committed at Birkenau death camp, through the eyes of a Jewish witness posted in a watchtower at the camp, will be released on Thursday, Israel’s Holocaust Remembrance Day.

The testimony of the “Mengele twin” Kalman Bar-on is revealed by Richard K. Lowy, a Jewish Canadian and son of Holocaust survivor Leopold Lowy – another twin who witnessed the horrific human experiments of the notorious SS doctor Josef Mengele in the hospital of Birkenau was a suspended camp or medical barracks during the Holocaust. Lowy will make the statement at the Enav Cultural Center in Tel Aviv.

Richard Lowy was on a decades-long mission to preserve his father’s memories as Canada’s last surviving “Mengele twin” when his efforts yielded an unanticipated connection to Bar-on in Israel.

After more than 56 years apart, the survivors had an emotional reunion in 2002. Bar-on credited Leopold Lowy with saving his life.

Leopold Lowy died a few months after they met in 2002. Before his death in 2019, Bar-on Richard Lowy gave over 12 hours of detailed accounts of his memories and experiences at the death camp.

“Kalman details how he and my father were placed in the watchtowers to serve the troops,” Lowy told The Times of Israel. “You could look over the guard’s shoulder and see everything that was going on – the selections, the gypsy camp, the transports, the riots.”

Kalman Bar-on, left, and Leopold Lowy when they met again in 2002. (Courtesy Richard Lowy)

Bar-on said the crematorium was only 150 yards (137 meters) to their left, from which the two boys could hear screams.

“A relationship developed between my father, who was a Streetwise kid, and Kalman, who was a Yeshiva boy,” says Lowy. “They got together and looked out for each other and stole food together.”

According to Bar-on, the boys served in the camp’s watchtower for six and a half months, during which time they had a clear view of the atrocities taking place below.

“I will try to paint this map of fear and on the difference between the fear of the paws and the boot of Sgt. Fritsche Fritz or any of the other SS guards, the palpable fear for our lives when witnessing a delivery of the next batch of walking skeletons to the crematorium, the ice-cold grip on my chest as I lie on the stone table during the period Mengele’s medical examinations and the ever-present knowledge that no one, but no one, will survive and get out of Birkenau,” begins Bar- on’s statement, presented during a Holocaust Remembrance Day program in Tel Aviv.

Leopold Lowy, left, and Kalman Baron at a Holocaust memorial. (Courtesy of Richard Lowy)

Shortly after his bar mitzvah at age 13, Bar-on was transported from a Hungarian yeshiva, or religious seminary, to Nazi-occupied Poland and was confronted with the horrifying reality of Nazi Germany’s systematic mass-murdering machinery before he arrived in Birkenau .

“Close your eyes and consider a formal local ordinance, endorsed by your federal and city grand legislature, ordering all residents of your faith to congregate on several designated city streets … in 48 hours.” Each adult and each child is only allowed to hold one suitcase,” says Bar-on in his statement.

The testimony accurately describes Bar-on’s relationship with Leopold Lowy, also known as Lippa.

“I worked with my friend Lippa in the SS guard barracks,” says Bar-on in the recordings. “Each morning at 5:15 we begin our day of servant work. Lippa, my old man, the sun of my soul, my best and beloved friend, I’ve been talking to him like that for many years, but he doesn’t answer. I’ve been looking for Lippa for 56 years.

“Lippa saved me from beatings and took care of me. But I knew very little about him. In January 1945 the Russian army captured Birkenau and we were free to go. Lippa and I parted without a fuss. It belongs to Birkenau. It was part of life. Lippa went this way and I went this way. And where is Lippa today? Nobody knows because he is not Lippa. Lippa is a nickname. He’s someone else,” says Bar-on.

From left: Leopold Lowy, Richard Lowy, Kalman Baron. (Courtesy of Richard Lowy)

Lowy was amazed at the detail of Bar-on’s account compared to his father, who he says “at a certain point “tended to repeat the same five stories, and that’s about it.”

Lowy calls Bar-on’s testimony “a unique chronicle of daily life in the Birkenau hospital camp”.

“Kalman is not only a victim of Mengele’s twin experiments and a survivor, he is a curious observer with a keen eye for detail and a direct eyewitness not only to what happened to him, but to things happening around him,” says Lowy.

“He has an uncanny ability to detach himself to capture each moment so decades later he can accurately narrate his harrowing journey,” he says.

Lowy says he knew nothing about his father’s experiences in the Holocaust until his father’s twin sister Miriam died in 1999. It was never discussed in his house.

Kalman Bar-on, left, and Leopold Lowy on Canadian News in 2002. (Courtesy Richard Lowy)

Leopold and Miriam Lowy both survived Birkenau and were rescued by Allied soldiers during the death march from Auschwitz. The 15-year-old twins were later placed in the care of a Canadian family in Halifax and then to Vancouver. Everyone in their family, and indeed everyone they knew from home, had perished in the Holocaust. They were among just four survivors from their hometown of Berehove (Beregszasz) in what was then Hungary and what is now Ukraine.

When he began researching his family history, Lowy wasn’t even aware that in 1985 his father had testified for 38 minutes to the US Holocaust Memorial Museum’s Steven Spielberg Film and Video Archive that the accounts of survivors were preserved.

Since then, Lowy has memorized the entire testimony, which he repeated verbatim in first-person during Holocaust education and memorial programs. He credits himself as his father for the testimony, saying that “after the programs, sometimes people come up to me and say they’re sorry for what I’ve been through. I have to remind them that it was my father’s memories and not mine.”

Father and son traveled together in 2000 to see the film “Leo’s Journey: The Story of the Mengele Twins.”

Leopold Lowy revisits Auschwitz-Birkenau in this undated photo. (Courtesy of Richard Lowy)

Lowy produced the film, which documented his father’s visit to see his former home in Berehove, the cattle cars that transported the Jews, the remains of Auschwitz, and the nearby Birkenau camp hospital in Poland.

The documentary aired on Israeli television in 2001 and happened to see Bar-on, who lived in Israel.

Bar-on recognized Leopold and his twin sister Miriam Lowy as children from photographs of them included in the film. He was eager to find his friend who shared his experiences from 56 years ago and whom he only knew as Lippa.

Bar-on contacted “his Lippa” and the two survivors had an emotional reunion in Vancouver in 2002 that garnered extensive media coverage in Canada. Leopold Lowy died later that same year.

On April 28 at 7:00 p.m., violinist Ori Wissner-Levy of the Israel Philharmonic will join Richard K. Lowy for a lecture, performance and screening of the film “Leo’s Journey: In My Father’s Words” in Tel Aviv Enav Cultural Center.

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