DATELINE: Fascinating True Story
Though it sounds like a sick joke, the fate of the vaudeville Orvitz family came down to the misfortune and good fortune of being dwarves and Jews. A documentary called The Seven Dwarves of Auschwitz is harrowing and inspiring.
Brothers and sisters, the seven Orvitzes entertained Europe in the 1930s with song, dance, patter, and capitalizing on their own physical situation. They were tiny people who joined many others of the era by entering show biz as the best way to make a living.
They exploited themselves, and ran from the terror of the Nazis in Europe. They ignored the horror stories, but finally the Nazis came to capture them in Transylvania and transport them in 1944 to the death camp at Auschwitz.
Through pluck and luck, they came to the attention of an ironic savior, the unstable Dr. Joseph Mengele. One of the guards told the doctor that he had found more specimens for the infamous ‘Mengele Zoo’, as it was called.
Yet, it meant that they would live as experiment specimens for the deranged medical practices of Mengele. However, he was also intrigued by their ability to entertain. It was that which kept them alive while others with deformity were slaughtered.
The tale is told by actor Warwick Davis, a small person himself, with an interest in the history of show business dwarves. He made a name for himself in movies, playing Ewoks and whatnot.
The horror of the tale is etched on his face as he travels the route suffered by the seven Orvitz dwarves. They were tortured by odd experiments, but managed to survive. Mengele allowed them to live to perform for him.
The film is unique in its perspective and deserves to be seen and will never be forgotten.