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Eva Kor (1934–2019), Holocaust survivor spoke about forgiveness

Getty Images / AFP / Julian Stratenschulte

She died while leading an educational trip to Auschwitz

Eva Kor was a holocaust survivor and educator based in Terre Haute, Indiana. She lost her parents and two older sisters in the Holocaust. She and her twin sister Miriam were subjected to human experimentation by Nazi doctor Josef Mengele while interred at Auschwitz. They survived the war, but both suffered from life-long physical ailments as a result of these experiments. She later married Holocaust survivor Michael Kor and the couple moved to Israel, and later the United States.  

In 1984 she founded the organization CANDLES, which stands for Children of Auschwitz Nazi Deadly Lab Experiments Survivors. She became a respected speaker and educator, the subject of documentary films, and wrote several books about her experiences. Each year she led an educational trip to Auschwitz. She was on one of these trips when she died of natural causes.  

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Died: Thursday, July 4, 2019 (Who else died on July 4?)  

Details of death: Died in Krakow, Poland of natural causes at the age of 85.


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The power of forgiveness: In the 1990s Kor forgave Mengele, who had died years prior, for experimenting on her. It was a difficult thing for her to do but helped heal some of the emotional and psychological wounds she’d carried with her for a lifetime. She became an outspoken advocate for the power of forgiveness. It was a position that was not always popular within the Holocaust education community. But for her it was a way to regain control over her feelings from those who had wronged her. It became a positive focus of her message as she continued to educate new generations about the horrors she and others endured during the Holocaust.  

Notable quote: “I discovered I had one power,” she told the Indianapolis Star in 2017. “What I tell everybody is that you — any victim, any person hurt — you have the same power. You have the power to forgive. And what it does, forgiveness, has nothing to do with the perpetrator. It has everything to do with the way the victim feels.”  

What people said about her: “My mother’s memory will best be honored by people doing the right thing, by taking her example, by believing in what is right.” —Alex Kor, son  

“I have interviewed so many people who are moved by her that not only do they feel healed but they are motivated to go out and help others.” —Ted Green, documentary filmmaker, director of “Eva: A-7063”  

Full obituary: Indianapolis Star  

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