Eva Kor, concentration camp survivor and founder of the CANDLES Holocaust Museum and Education Center, spoke at a packed Corwin Pavilion on Thursday, May 5 in commemoration of Yom HaShoah, or Holocaust remembrance week.
At the age of 10, Kor and her twin sister Miriam were taken from their home in Romania along with their parents and two older sisters and sent to the Auschwitz death camp.
During the two-hour talk Kor spoke of her experiences at Auschwitz, from being separated from her parents and two elder sisters upon arrival at the camp to living through brutal human experimentation conducted by infamous Nazi Dr. Josef Mengele, the “Angel of Death.” Out of 1,500 sets of twins that were forced to participate in Mengele’s experiments, the Kor twins were part of less than 200 individual survivors.
At the talk, Kor also touched upon her life after surviving Auschwitz. While Eva stayed relatively healthy, her sister’s kidneys stopped growing as a result of the injections she received. Even with a donated kidney from Kor, Miriam eventually passed away in the early 1990s.
In spite of all that Kor went through, she believes it is forgiveness that helped bring closure to that chapter of her life. Kor admits this path was not planned but rather stumbled upon after she opened the CANDLES museum in 1995.
While the idea of forgiveness can be unpopular with some of her fellow Holocaust survivors, Kor insists that she does not condone what happened at the hands of the Nazis.
“Prejudice is the cancer of the human soul,” Kor said, in response to a question on the subject. For her, the forgiveness of others was a matter of freeing herself, not freeing her oppressors from responsibility for their actions.
As someone who gave over 200 speeches last year at the age of 81, Kor lives up to her call to contribute every little bit of improvement you can to the world. With a little faith and determination, she insists that one can overcome negativity and preserve in whatever they set their mind to. After all, if a ten-year-old girl such as herself could take on the worst of Auschwitz and survive on will alone, who is to say it’s impossible to have a little faith in oneself and the world?