Warwick Davis and the Dwarfs of Auschwitz premieres Thursday, April 8 at 10 p.m. on THIRTEEN during Holocaust Remembrance Week. It will livestream at thirteen.org/live but will not stream afterwards.
Actor Warwick Davis tells the incredible story of the seven Jewish dwarf siblings of the Ovitz family, who were deported to Auschwitz during the Holocaust and, remarkably, survived, along with the rest of their family. Davis himself was born with the condition spondyloepiphyseal dysplasia congenital (SED), which caused his dwarfism.
The Ovitz family was Jewish and from Romania. The seven dwarf siblings had formed the Lilliput Troupe, which sang and played music using small instruments throughout Romania, Hungary and Czechoslovakia in the 1930s and 1940s. The taller family members had backstage roles.
In 1944, the family was deported to Auschwitz in Poland. The infamous German camp doctor there, Josef Mengele (known as the Angel of Death), was fascinated by the family and had them housed in better conditions within the camp, only to keep them healthier for his unethical research and experiments. The entire family survived for the liberation of the Auschwitz camp on on January 27, 1945.
In May 1949, the family emigrated to Israel and settled in Haifa. They began touring again and retired in 1955.
Perla Ovitz (d. 2001) was interviewed for the book Giants: The Dwarfs of Auschwitz. She reflected, “If I was a healthy Jewish girl, 1 meter 70 tall, I would have been gassed like the hundreds of thousands of other Jews in my country. So if I ever wondered why I was born a dwarf, my answer would have to be that my handicap, my deformity, was God’s only way to keep me alive.”
An interview with Perla from the late 1990s is included in this documentary.