Europe

Holocaust survivor opens up on forgiving the Nazis

Eva Mozes Kor, right, with fellow former prisoner Jozef Paczynski in 2015.

Eva Mozes Kor, right, with fellow former prisoner Jozef Paczynski in 2015.  (AP Photo/Alexandra Fletcher, File)

More than 50 years after she was trapped at the Auschwitz death camp as the infamous Dr. Josef Mengele conducted experiments on her, Eva Mozes Kor explained why she finally chose to forgive the Nazis.

Kor and her twin Miriam arrived at Auschwitz when they were 10 years old in 1944, she told an audience in South Florida. She remembered seeing three dead children on the ground, the Miami Herald reported.

The twins promised themselves they would not end up like those children, and that pledge kept them alive in the camp and through the suffering they endured from Mengele’s twin-focused experiments.

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Kor, 83, a lecturer, author, and founder of the CANDLES (Children of Auschwitz Nazi Deadly Lab Experiments Survivors) Holocaust Museum & Education Center, said she felt a new sense of liberation after forgiving the Nazis.

Her family was forced into a Romanian ghetto and then shoved into cattle cars on their way to what they believed was a work camp. They arrived at Auschwitz and the twins never saw their parents or older sisters again.

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At Auschwitz, Mengele tortured the twins with injections that Kor believed caused a life-threatening fever and the temporary inability to walk.

Her road to forgiveness began in 1995 when she met a Nazi doctor who was at Auschwitz at the same time she was. He explained to her his responsibilities in signing the collective gas chamber death certificates.

While the doctor was unaware of the twin experimentation, he described the gas chambers as “the nightmare I live with every day of my life.”

The two returned to Auschwitz together to sign a declaration about what they had discussed. After the trip, she said she could not figure out how to thank him.

“How do you thank a Nazi? I did not know,” Kor said. She searched a greeting-card store for two hours before she thought of the idea for a letter of forgiveness. It took her four months to write it.

She said she thought of the Nazis and what they did to her, and she thought of Mengele and looked up every bad word she could find to describe him – and forgave them all.

“I was no longer a tragic prisoner,” Kor said. “Forgive. See the miracle that can happen.”

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