By Brian Blair
The Republic (email@example.com)
The Nazis killed Eva Kor’s parents and her two older sisters in the prison camp in Auschwitz during World War II. And they nearly killed her and her twin sister, Miriam, through medical experiments when they were 10.
Half a century after those atrocities, Kor gave the German guards, doctors and others something in response to the pain they inflicted.
In fact, when she met one of the Nazi guards this year at one of her historical presentations on the Holocaust, she hugged and kissed him.
“When you forgive those who seem like your worst enemy,” Kor said, “it sets you free.”
The 81-year-old Kor, a longtime Terre Haute resident, will deliver that message in two separate-but-similar free presentations Monday in Columbus and Hope. Kor will travel from the Candles Holocaust Museum and Education Center in Terre Haute, where she has worked for years to remind people of the darkness that enveloped the Jews in concentration camps in Germany and Poland.
Some people still ask if the Holocaust actually happened, Kor said. And yes, it sometimes takes her showing written medical and other documents to prove to doubters that her story and those of thousands of others are real.
Even her and her sister’s release from Auschwitz and her arrival back in her native Romania brought unspeakable pain.
She thought she would return to find other relatives alive, but she found only her aunt, traumatized by the death of her brother and the twins’ father.
“I found only three crumpled pictures of my family on my bedroom floor,” Kor said.
“That (sense of being alone) was among the biggest disappointments of my life. People often ask me, ‘So when did your life return to normal?’
“The answer is never. Never.”
Her talks locally will focus on three elements:
How she and her sister survived.
Lessons she learned from her survival.
The importance of never giving up hope, on dreams or anything else.
She has done 121 such lectures this year alone.
“Most often, I think that people are inspired,” said Kor, who moved to Terre Haute in 1960 and married and raised a family. “They tell me that they realize that, if I can do what I did, then they can succeed, too.”
Nancy Banta, one of the organizers of Kor’s presentations on Monday, mentioned that the woman’s story and resolve can be a good source of strength for others.
“Eva Kor defines inspiration,” Banta said. “It is simply amazing this woman not only survived the Holocaust, she came out on the other side with the most profound message to the world: forgiveness. This message is not only timeless but relevant in today’s world.”
Mary Clare Speckner, community services coordinator for the Bartholomew County Public Library, has long wanted to bring Kor to the library or elsewhere locally to speak.
Speckner became even more interested after Seymour resident Charles Moman spoke in the spring at the library about a recent trip to Auschwitz and its profound impact on him. About 100 people attended that presentation.
“So I knew that the topic of the Holocaust is important to people, and that many individuals would be interested in hearing from an Auschwitz survivor,” Speckner said.
“I think people have a thirst to actually hear what went on, and then with Eva, to want to know why — and how she has forgiven those who tortured her.”
Surviving — and Thriving
Romanian native and Holocaust survivor Eva Kor,
telling her story of overcoming life’s challenges
1 p.m. Monday at Hauser High School, 9273 State Road 9 in Hope.
And at 6 p.m. Monday on the second level of
The Commons, 300 Washington St. in Columbus
The Commons, Tracy L. Haddad Foundation, Thomas H. Kramer, Johnson Ventures, Deckard Tool & Engineering, Hope EDIT Committee and Bartholomew County Library Associates
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