Olga Lengyel

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Olga Lingyel (1908-2001) was a physician's assistant deported to Auschwitz-Birkenau Concentration Camp in 1944, the only member of her family of six to survive. She was made an experimental assistant, in the camp hospital, by Josef Mengele. After the war, she wrote a book about her experiences, Five Chimneys, and founded the The Memorial Library and Art Collection of Second World War, chartered by the State University of New York.

Auschwitz and Mengele

Of the hospital and Mengele, she said "How we hated this charlatan!...How we despised his detached, haughty air, his constant whistling, his absurd orders!" Another prisoner doctor, Gisella Perl, feared his visits more than anything else "because...we never knew whether we would be permitted to continue to live...He was free to do whatever he pleased with us." Emphasizing his power of life and death, he would sometimes treat prisoners, which was unusual for SS physicians. [1]

Also, she said of Mengele, "His experiments were carried out in abnormal fashion. When he made blood transfusions her purposely used incorrect blood types. He did whatever pleased him and conducted his experiments like a rank amateur. He would inject substances and then ignore the results. He was not a savant. His was the mania of a collector." [2]


After liberation, she reached "New York, by way of Odessa and France, and in 1947, she published Five Chimneys: A Woman Survivor’s True Story of Auschwitz, which provided background for William Styron's novel, Sophie's Choice.

It was attacked by Holocaust denialist Carlos Whitlock Porter's website, supported by Tom Metzger. The attack drew on inconsistencies between the books of Lingyel and Gisella Perl. [3]

Later, she founded the founded The Memorial Library and Art Collection of Second World War, chartered by the State University of New York, the motivation for which was

We have to prevent similar atrocities from happening again. People should come together the moment there is danger. Endangering one group means endangering all of us.[4]


  1. Robert Jay Lifton (1986), The Nazi Doctors: medical killing and the psychology of genocide, Basic Books, p. 338
  2. Gerald Astor (1983), The Last Nazi: the life and times of Dr. Joseph Mengele, Donald H. Fine, ISBN 091765746, p. 102
  3. J. Belling, Five Chimneys, The Website of Carlos Whitlock Porter
  4. Olga Lengyel, The Memorial Library and Art Collection of Second World War