A Holocaust survivor with Cincinnati ties is taking 100 relatives to Auschwitz
Rabbi Nissan Mangel was just 10 years old when he and his family were forced by the Nazis to Auschwitz. Today, he is one of the youngest living Holocaust survivors, and on his 90th birthday, is taking more than 100 of his relatives to the site of the former concentration camp.
Mangel wants to show the world that, in the end, good triumphed over evil. His grandson Leibel Mangel, who grew up in Cincinnati and now lives in Atlanta, admires the Rabbi's courage, strength and bravery.
"We all have situations where it might be easier just to kind of go with the flow and, you know, kind of buckle, but there's always a way to stand up for what's right and just," says Leibel whose parents run Chabad Jewish Center in Blue Ash. "Just stand up and be courageous and brave even in our own lives."
Leibel explains his grandfather, who lives in New York, had two face-to-face encounters with the infamous Dr. Josepf Mengele, who did medical experiments on children. In one case, Mengele met Mangel at the gate and had the choice of sending him to a work camp or the gas chamber. Many children were sent to their death because they were too young to work. The quick-thinking Mangel told Dr. Mengele he was 17 years old, not 10. Even though Dr. Mengele didn't believe him, he still sent him to the work camp.
In another instance, when Mangel got sick, he encountered Dr. Mengele in the concentration camp's hospital. Dr. Mengele was going to experiment on him when Mangel yelled, "Experiments are for monkeys not children!" Dr. Mengele left and nothing happened to Mangel.
"And these were two of the stories that we heard repeatedly growing up," says Leibel, "which to me was always a sign — even as a 10-year-old boy, the amount of courage, the bravery, the knowing that it's important to stand up for what is right and stand up for who you are and what you believe in."
At last count, 106 relatives were making the trip to Poland, most from the U.S., some from Israel. They leave Oct. 23 for the Oct. 26 visit to Auschwitz.