Details about the life of Zvi Spiegel, a Holocaust survivor who worked to protect the lives of fellow prisoners, have been uncovered as the result of new research.
Among the oldest of the male twins held at the Auschwitz-Birkenau concentration camp during the Second World War, Spiegel avoided execution by becoming supervisor to the younger prisoners. As well as sparing some of the twins from the gas chamber by appealing directly to Joseph Mengele, Spiegel led 35 young internees back to Hungary following the camp’s liberation in January 1945.
The results of the study, conducted by academics at the Holocaust Research Centre at Royal Holloway, University of London and led by Yoav Heller from the university’s department of history, have been made public to mark Holocaust Memorial Day in the UK. The research focused on Spiegel’s post-war journey to Hungary with the former prisoners, which passed through Slovakia, Carpatho-Ruthenia and Romania and took six weeks. All but one of the young men survived.
Professor David Cesarani, from the Department of History at Royal Holloway, said: “Our team at the Holocaust Research Centre is exploring every conceivable dimension of the Holocaust, but the experience of the victims, exemplified by Zvi Spiegel’s story, is central to our mission to better understand the origins and consequences of the catastrophe. Royal Holloway is unique in this respect, with an internationally recognised research facility for work in Holocaust Studies that is unrivalled anywhere in this country.”