At the tender age of 16, Klara Wizel had a picturesque life with a loving and supportive family. There was no way to know that the Holocaust was creeping toward her and that soon this young Hungarian Jew would be fighting for her life due to the most notorious doctor of the 20th century, Dr. Josef Mengele.
Swept up in a week long deportation process along with fifteen thousand other Hungarian Jews, Klara and her family arrive on cold night at the infamous Auschwitz - Birkenau concentration camp after a three day journey with no food or water. There, she and her family would first meet Josef Mengele who would later become known as the Great Selector.
That night Mengele selected Klara’s mother Freda, father Ignatiu, her older sister Ancy and younger brother Mortho to die in the gas chamber sending the adolescent Klara and two of her sisters Hedy and Rose to be housed like animals in the women’s barracks of Auschwitz. Dr. Mengele, who was in charge of the women’s barracks, would become the chief provider for the gas chambers and order gruesome experiments on children that often maimed or killed his Jewish subjects. Like a blood hound, Mengele, also known as the Murderer in White, searched out those who were too old or too sick to survive his cruel science and those who served no purpose to the Nazi regime. As Klara would later say, “Day or night you never knew when he would show, the ovens were always burning around the clock.”
As the Russian front approaches, Mengele and the Nazi’s selection process speed up. Klara finds herself sick, weak, tired and not able to eat. Naked, she is brought before Mengele, a tall Rock Hudson-handsome man who ideally would have been asking for her hand instead of deciding her fate. Klara was wowed by his presence and hardly realized that Mengele had deemed her unfit and sentenced her to die the gas chamber. As Klara is taken away with approximately seventy other women, her sisters Hedy and Rose scream and cry as she is dragged off, for they know this is her death.
Yet, somehow sick and dying on a snowy night, now 17 year old Klara Wizel not only escaped the gas chamber, but she also smuggles herself out of Auschwitz. She's the only Holocaust survivor of record to ever escape Dr. Josef Mengele’s selection process. Her escape and journey through war torn Europe to get back home to her small home town of Sighet is one of the most inspiring stories of that time.
Now 86 years old and thriving in Los Angeles, Klara is a grandmother and lives a comfortable life. She is a member of the 39 Club and is dedicated to helping survivors of the Holocaust and their families. Her story is one of survival against the greatest odds and a perpetual love for life despite extreme loss and cruelty.