(July 7, 2019 / JNS) Eva Kor, a Holocaust survivor who advocated for forgiveness towards those who committed the acts that led to the deaths of 11 million people, including 6 million Jews, died in Poland late last week at the age of 85.
Kor died in Krakow during an annual educational trip to Poland organized by the CANDLES (Children of Auschwitz Nazi Deadly Lab Experiments Survivors) Holocaust Museum and Education Center, which she founded in 1995 in Terre Haute, Ind. It has identified more than 100 survivors, per the museum website.
The museum was destroyed in an arson incident in 2003, and was rebuilt and reopened in 2005.
“Eva Kor has touched hundreds of thousands of people over her 85 years through her message of overcoming tragedy, finding forgiveness, and healing,” said the museum in a statement announcing her death on July 4.
Kor was born on Jan. 31, 1934 in Romania. Ten years later, she, along with her twin sister, Miriam Mozes Zeiger, stood on the selection platform at Auschwitz, separated from her parents and two other sisters—the final time the girls would be with their family.
“All that took 30 minutes from the time we got down from the cattle car, and my whole family was gone,” Kor told Buzzfeed in a 2017 video that has gotten more than 12 million views on YouTube. “Only Miriam and I were left, holding hands and crying.
Kor and Zeiger were at Auschwitz for nine months where they were tortured by the notorious Nazi doctor Josef Mengele until the Soviet army liberated the concentration camp in 1945.
After moving to Romania to be with their aunt, at 16 years old, the sisters immigrated to Israel and both served in the army.
In Israel, Kor also met her husband, fellow Holocaust survivor Michael Kor, and they moved to Terre Haute, Ind., where they raised two children. She worked in real estate for more than three decades, according to the CANDLES website.
Additionally, according to the organization:
Eva tried to put her past behind her. But when the NBC special The Holocaust premiered, Eva realized the community finally had context for her tragic history. This newfound visibility and understanding led to a path filled with searching for Dr. Mengele’s files, speaking all over the world, helping individuals in search of their own healing, and founding a museum that continues to grow every year. Eva blazed trails for Holocaust education and brought the story of the Mengele twins and Dr. Mengele’s experiments into the international spotlight.
The themes of Eva’s life are apparent. We can overcome hardship and tragedy. Forgiveness can help us to heal. And everyone has the power and responsibility to make this world a better place.
The museum will be closed in her memory until Tuesday.
In her 2012 book about her experience during the Holocaust, Surviving the Angel of Death: The True Story of a Mengele Twin in Auschwitz, Kor wrote: “Forgiveness is not so much for the perpetrator, but for the victim.”