Five Chimneys Book Summary and Study Guide

Detailed plot synopsis reviews of Five Chimneys

In 1944, nearly five years after Hitler had invade Poland; the Gestapo ruled everywhere including Cluj, Transylvania where the author, Olga Lengyel was living. Olga's husband, Dr. Miklos Lengyel was a trained medical doctor and she was a surgical assistant. In May 1944 when he was ordered to be deported to Germany by the Nazi's. When Olga heard this she insisted on going with her husband and their two sons so they can work in a German hospital to help the injured in the war, or so she thought. The whole family, including Olga parents was pushed inside a train in a cattle car with ninety-six other human beings and it was there their fate turned to horrific measures. Olga's family who was not Jewish could not believe what they were experiencing. Her husband was accused of double crossing the Nazi's by boycotting pharmaceuticals made by the German Bayer Company and were on the ordered destination to Auschwitz for payment of this crime with the Jewish deportees. Once they arrived at Auschwitz she witnessed children under twelve and the elderly were being summoned to left, woman and men were separated to the right. The screams of those children she will never forget and that is the last time she ever saw her children or parents.
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The book describes in unbelievable detail her seven-month stay at Auschwitz, which she wrote shortly after this unspeakable ordeal. Olga finds out that the five chimneys she saw on the concentration camp were the crematoriums for the children and the elderly which her children and parents were incinerated in. After woman birthed babies the newborns along with the mothers were taken to the crematoriums as well. The ones that were placed in the concentration camp were stripped, put in rags and put on food rations, which had human hair and human fat in it. One blanket was given for every ten women to share, their chamber pot was their drinking cup, and all their hair was cut off and sold. She recalls her visits with the exceptionally beautiful but sadistic Irma Griese who brutalized the prisoners with sick enjoyment as she ran the women section for the Nazi's. Olga describes her observations of Dr. Joseph Mengele, the ruthless Nazi camp doctor who made it clear the Jews were first for the extermination and the nightmare of watching him use the Jews as lab rats for their experiments.

As the story comes near end, Olga finally saw her husband in a hospital at another camp but weeks later was shot down for trying to help a sick patient who had fallen down. Many atrocities follow until the prisoner's are marched to liberation.

The review of this Book prepared by Susan D. Minkalis

Chapter Analysis of Five Chimneys

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Plot & Themes

War/Cloak & Dagger story?    -   holocaust War/Spying    -   Yes Period of greatest activity?    -   1900+ Which war?    -   World War II

Subject of Biography

Gender    -   Female Ethnicity    -   White Nationality    -   Eastern European


How much descriptions of surroundings?    -   6 () Europe    -   Yes European country:    -   Germany    -   Poland Misc setting    -   prison Century:    -   1930's-1950's

Writing Style

Book makes you feel?    -   angry Pictures/Illustrations?    -   None How much dialogue in bio?    -   significantly more descript than dialog How much of bio focuses on most famous period of life?    -   0-25% of book

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