The Man who Survived Dr Mengele


[Benjamin Steiner’s tattoo told the terrible truth of his childhood. Photo: Stephen Robinson]


Benjamin Steiner died in Auckland last week at the age of 81, and as Mark Jennings writes on Newsroom this week, his life story was unique in many ways.


Benjamin Steiner cut a distinctive figure with his dapper clothes, trilby hat and twinkly eyes. But belying that appearance, his body covered in scars and the number A-421734 tattooed on his left forearm, was a terrible truth. 

Steiner was a survivor of Auschwitz, and the subject of the notorious Dr Josef Mengele’s experiments. 

The small, softly-spoken man lived in New Zealand most of his life. He was a professional and passionate saxophonist and worked as chief purser for the airline that became Air New Zealand.

Born in 1935 in Budapest, he was 8 years old when he was transported to Auschwitz – Birkenau in a railway wagon. By 1944, 12,000 Jews were being delivered to Auschwitz on an average day.


Winston Churchill once described the treatment of Hungarian Jews as the “greatest and most horrible crime ever committed in the whole history of the world...”.


Yad Vashem, says that between May 15 and July 9 1944, about 430,000 Hungarian Jews were deported, mainly to Auschwitz, where most were gassed on arrival. In total, 580,000 Hungarian Jews perished.

The trip to Auschwitz was seared into Benjamin Steiner’s memory.

“I cried all the way. I had no understanding of the political situation. A lady who had been separated from her husband saw I was crying and held my hand the whole way.” 

On arriving at Auschwitz, the Nazi officers decided which direction people would be sent...


To read Mark Jennings' full article - The man who survived Dr Mengele’s experiments - go to


* Mark Jennings' article contains parts of an interview Benjamin Steiner gave to Auckland journalist Keren Cook.


Recipient email:

Recipient name:

Your email:

Your name:

Posted by Miriam Bell (14/04/2017 09:00)      264 Views