Twins saved from Nazi gas chambers when mum gave them up to ‘Angel of Death’

Twin brothers were saved from Nazi gas chambers when their mum gave them up to the 'Angel of Death'.

Peter Somogyi and his brother Thomas arrived in the notorious death camp Auschwitz in July 1944.

Their mother Erzsebet made the unlikely choice to give them up to Josef Mengele, the infamous figurehead of the concentration camp, when he came around asking if any of the prisoners were twins.

Peter recalled: "They threw us out of the cattle car, I saw a lot of German soldiers with guns drawn, and I saw the prisoners and guard already.

"And that's when we lined up, along came Mengele asking for twins, behind him were two other soldiers.

"Three times Mengele came around: the first time my mother didn't say anything, the second time she didn't say anything, but the third time she said she had twins."

Born into a Jewish family in Pecs, Hungary, Peter and his family's life changed overnight after the Nazis occupied the country in March 1944.

Dad Josef was immediately taken away and they were not reunited again until after the war.

After being shipped off to Auschwitz and separated from their mother, the twins learned they had seen their mum and sister for the last time.

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Peter said: "Mengele put one of the older twins, Zvi Spiegel, in charge of the twins.

"And the first thing I asked him was: 'When can I see my mother?'

"And he said: 'Look outside over there at the chimneys', and he said: 'That's where your mother is.'

"Immediately I knew I would never see her again."

Mengele earned the nickname the 'Angel of Death' for his horrific actions at Auschwitz.

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He decided which new arrivals would be killed immediately and which would be kept alive to work.

But he is most infamous for his deadly experiments on prisoners, including amputating their limbs and injecting them with disease.

Some witnessed described him performing vivisection without anaesthesia and even sewing people together.

After the war Mengele fled to South America and sailed to Argentina with the assistance by a network of former SS members.

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He died aged 67 in 1979 and was never prosecuted for his crimes.

Twins were his favourite test subjects but Peter and Thomas were lucky.

They arrived at Auschwitz late in the war and were mostly subject to blood tests and having their measurements taken.

Peter said: "I was a very lucky one.

"We didn't have the bad experiments that Mengele did at the beginning, but measuring the face, measuring our size, blood-taking, and most measuring every part of the body."

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Peter, now 88 years old, is certain he would not have survived if he was not a twin.

He said: "Definitely not. I would have been with my mother and sister, together we would have been in the gas chambers within five minutes after arrival.

“My mother, my sister, my grandmother, all my cousins – they were all in the same cattle car.

"They all perished within an hour. I would have also if I wouldn’t have been a twin.

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"He [Mengele] didn’t save my life. He just kept me alive for his own purpose.”

When Auschwitz was liberated in January 1945, the brothers began their long journey home.

It took two-and-a-half months to return to their home in country.

Peter married a fellow Holocaust survivor Anna and settled in the US. The couple have a son and a daughter, four grandchildren and one great-grandchild.

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