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Olga Lengyel (1908–2001)

Author of Five Chimneys: The Story of Auschwitz

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Olga Lengyel, née Gross, was born in the Transylvania region of Romania that later became part of Hungary. In 1944, she was working as a surgical assistant in the hospital in Cluj (Kolozsvár) where her husband, Dr. Miklós Lengyel, a Jewish surgeon, was director. The couple had two sons. She and her husband, children, and her parents were deported to the Auschwitz-Birkenau concentration camp. Olga was put to work in the Auschwitz infirmary, where she also secretly worked for a French underground resistance cell, trying to demolish a crematory oven. She was the only member of her family to survive. After World War II, she managed to emigrate to the USA via France and Russia. She wrote about her experiences in one of the first Holocaust memoirs, Five Chimneys: The Story of Auschwitz, first published in France in 1946 as Souvenirs de l'au-delà. A later American edition was entitled I Survived Hitler's Ovens. Olga eventually remarried and founded the Memorial Library and Art Collection of the Second World War, chartered by the University of the State of New York.
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