View Full Version : A Powerful Lesson in Suffering and Forgiveness

Breni Sue
04-11-02, 02:27 AM
I read this today in my local newspaper. Eva Kor speaks in this area a lot and is the founder of C.A.N.D.L.E.S. Holocaust Museum (http://www.candles-museum.com/) in Terre Haute, which is dedicated to the children of the Holocaust. She recently spoke at ISU and shared her experience with the students there. Her story is heart-breaking, but incredible, and I thought it was worth sharing.

Forgive, but don't forget:

Painful story: Indiana State University students react Tuesday to Holocaust survivor Eva Kor's story of Auschwitz during a Holocaust Remembrance presentation on the ISU campus. (Tribune-Star/Bob Poynter)
Students moved to tears at tale of Auschwitz

By Sue Loughlin/Tribune-Star

April 10, 2002

Holocaust survivor Eva Kor has told her story many times before. But the power of her message never fades.

"It was the dawn of an early spring day in 1944. Our cattle car train came to a sudden stop. I could hear lots of German voices yelling orders outside," she said as she began her talk during Indiana State University's first Holocaust Remembrance Day on Tuesday.

Her talk was sponsored by the Department of Sociology and the Office of Ethnic Diversity.

Nearly 340 ISU students, employees and members of the public sat in the audience in Hulman Memorial Student Union as she recounted her painful past. Her "crime" was being Jewish, and her punishment was the Auschwitz concentration camp.

From start to finish, her stark descriptions of misery, hate and torture in a Nazi death camp could not fail to move, to devastate, or perhaps, to change, her audience.

Kor recalled stepping onto the cement platform after her arrival at Auschwitz, and her mother, Jaffa, 38, grabbing 10-year-old Eva and Eva's twin sister, Miriam.

"Everything moved very fast," she recalled. She looked around and soon realized her father and two older sisters had disappeared into the crowd. "I never saw them again."

Soon, an SS officer noticed the twins and asked the mother if they were in fact, twins. "Is it good?" asked her mother.

"Yes," nodded the SS officer. "Yes, they are twins," said Eva's mother.

The SS officer grabbed the twins; they screamed and pleaded. "I remember looking back and seeing my mother's arms stretched out in despair as she was pulled in the opposite direction" by an SS officer. "I never even got to say goodbye to her."

Kor never saw her mother again.

Within 30 minutes, Eva and Miriam had lost their family, and their lives would never be the same.

Eva and Miriam became human guinea pigs in genetic experiments conducted by Dr. Josef Mengele; about 1,500 sets of twins suffered the same fate. When Auschwitz was finally liberated on Jan. 27, 1945, only about 200 children were found alive. Most of them, including Eva and Miriam, were Mengele twins.

Kor graphically described the inhumane conditions she faced: sitting naked among many strangers as she was "processed" at the camp; having a number -- A7063 -- burned into her flesh; being fed a starvation diet of bread and a brownish liquid drink.

That first night, when she and her sister needed to go to the bathroom, they found the corpses of three children scattered on a filthy latrine floor.

"Their open eyes and shriveled bodies have stayed with me forever," Kor said. She vowed, at that point, she would do everything in her power to ensure that she and Miriam "did not end up on that filthy latrine floor." She vowed to survive.

Three days a week, the children were taken to a lab where blood was drawn and they received injections of many unknown drugs. One twin was the guinea pig; the other was the control.

Kor recalled having so much blood drawn a few times that she fainted.

At other times, the twins were taken to a large room where they were forced to sit naked, while their heads were measured, eye colors checked and other anatomical data recorded. "I was treated like a living piece of meat," she said.

Kor was once injected with something that made her very ill and she had to spend time in a camp hospital -- a place from which no one usually came out alive, she said.

On Jan. 27, 1945, Auschwitz was finally liberated. "We had triumphed over unbelievable evil," she said.

The Holocaust happened in part because of hatred and prejudice. Kor told her audience that each person can make a difference by treating fellow human beings with kindness and respect.

She also told them of the power, and empowerment, of forgiveness. In 1995, when she want to Auschwitz for the 50th anniversary of the liberation, included in that group was a former Auschwitz Nazi doctor.

He signed a document that verified gas chambers had existed and he also admitted that he had seen Jews killed in them. He told Kor he had nightmares about the gas chambers, where Jews and others were put to death.

In response to the doctor's actions, Kor signed a document forgiving him and other Nazis. "It made me feel good that I had the power to forgive," Kor said. "I felt the burden of pain lifted from my shoulders."

Kor told her audience they, too, must learn to forgive, even their worst enemy. "It is an act of self-healing," she said.

Kor's talk was preceded by a memorial ceremony to honor the 11 million people who died in Nazi death camps. Eleven participants, primarily ISU students, lit candles and dedicated it to a different set of victims, whether Jewish families, the physically and mentally disabled, homosexuals or Nazi political opponents.

ISU junior Amanda Dixon was one who read a brief statement and lit a candle. She read: "I light this candle for the 1.5 million Jewish children who did not survive the Holocaust and who never again experienced freedom. These children never again knew what it was like to play with their brothers and sisters."

Dixon said she was astonished by what she heard. "I didn't know a lot about it until I came today. It makes you sad that all that could happen -- that people could be so evil," she said.

Melody Prouse, an ISU freshmen, had never heard a Holocaust survivor before, and Kor's story brought her to tears. The message of forgiveness is one that Prouse will take to heart.

"She has an incredible sense of humanity -- the ability to survive what she has survived, to go on with her life and to forgive those who did such horrible things to her. That's an incredible person," Prouse said, overcome by tears once again.

04-11-02, 07:43 AM

Yesterday I saw an interview with the man from the book A Boy Called "It" - for those not famaliar with the story - it's about a boy who grew up in an extremely abusive home - anyway, his main thing was forgiveness as well. He said many of the same things that are said in the story Bren posted - it's our power to forgive - and when you forgive - a burden is lifted off your own shoulders. It's cool to see that even in the secular world - there are people that recognize that bitterness, anger, revenge- that doesn't do anything but destroy you - forgiveness has the most power.

04-11-02, 09:34 AM
Last year I was a reader for Yom Ha'shua (not sure if that's the right spelling) and it was... yeah, it was moving.

04-12-02, 10:17 AM
Stories of human suffering abound, as do memorials. Each week we gather to remeber the fact that God became flesh and was abused by His very creation, so much so that they murdered Him.
We observe this in the memorial that He himself instituted, Holy Eucharist. It, too, is very moving, it never fails to bring me to tears.