Renowned Holocaust survivor Eva Kor died while leading an educational trip to the Auschwitz concentration camp in Krakow, Poland on Thursday.
Kor endured the horrors of Dr. Mengele's experiments as a child along with her twin sister Miriam. She and her family were deported from their Romanian village to Auschwitz, arriving there in 1944. Her parents and two older sisters were sent to the gas chambers but Eva and her sister were "saved" by Mengele for his grisly experiments.
The twins survived and were liberated from Auschwitz at age 10. They lived with their aunt in Romania until they were 16 and then emigrated to Israel. There Kor married a fellow Holocaust survivor and later moved to the United States with her husband, who was an American citizen. They settled in Terre Haute, Indiana in 1960, where she's lived ever since.
Kor suffered terribly for the rest of her life from the physical torture she endured in Auschwitz. Her sister Miriam died in 1993 from an illness which Kor blamed on Mengele's experiments. Shortly later, following a ceremony at Auschwitz at which a former Nazi doctor signed an affidavit admitting what he did, Kor decided to forgive - even Mengele. Forgiveness became her life calling and she's spread her message to thousands of people since then. Her story kindled international interest and was later recorded in a documentary Forgiving Dr. Mengele.
"I discovered I had one power,” Kor said, the IndyStar reported 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.”
Kor's message of forgiveness of the Nazis' crimes was controversial and in 2003, the museum that she founded in 1995 in Terre Haute, CANDLES, for Children of Auschwitz Nazi Deadly Lab Experiments Survivors, was burned by arson. However, when the story became public, donations poured in and the museum was rebuilt in 2005.
Kor was a busy lady until the end, frequently speaking in public, leading tours and monitoring her Twitter account with her 38,200 followers on her own, on which she posted just yesterday.
Kor's son, Alex Kor, posted pictures of his mother just yesterday at the guard tower entrance to Birkenau.
The Auschwitz Memorial stated, "Only five days ago we recorded a testimony of Eva Kor, an Auschwitz survivor, for @AuschwitzMuseum Archive. Today came a news about her passing away. It more than just 'a breaking news.' It is a devastating one as one more survivor stopped sharing the story."
The governor of Indiana, Eric Holcomb, said, "The world just lost a giant with Eva Kor’s passing. Janet and I loved and adored her. Everywhere she went, Eva brought light into darkness and provided comfort to those in pain unlike anyone we’ve ever met. From her against all odds survival as a young girl in Auschwitz to her peace spreading message based from home in Terre Haute, Indiana, her relentless and optimistic example inspired the world. Her angelic spirit will live on in the countless souls she saved from ongoing confusion and torment. Janet and I are reminded just how blessed we are to have her as a friend. We will miss her laughter, her wisdom and her passion. We call on every Hoosier to look above on this Independence Day and say a prayer for Eva and the family and nation she leaves behind.”
The CANDLES museum said in a statement, "Eva Kor has touched hundreds of thousands of people over her 85 years through her message of overcoming tragedy, finding forgiveness, and healing. "We hope Eva’s story continues to change the lives of those who hear it for many years to come."