Eva Mozes Kor is a survivor of the Holocaust, forgiveness advocate, and public speaker. Powered by a never-give-up attitude, Eva has emerged from a trauma-filled childhood as a brilliant example of the human spirit's power to overcome. She is a community leader, champion of human rights, and tireless educator.
Eva Mozes was born in 1934 in the tiny village of Portz, Romania. Through the first four years of Eva's education, she and Miriam attended a one-room schoolhouse. Eva's father, Alexander and mother, Jaffa had four girls: Edit, Aliz, and the twins Eva and Miriam. Though the Mozes family enjoyed a comfortable if rustic living as landowners and farmers, the family lived under the spectre of the Nazi takeover of Germany and the everyday experience of prejudice against the Jews.
When Eva and Miriam were six, their village was occupied by a Hungarian Nazi armed guard. The Mozes family was the only Jewish family in the village. In 1944, after four years' occupation, the family was transported to the regional ghetto in Simleu Silvaniei. Just a few weeks later, they were packed into a cattle car and transported to the Auschwitz death camp.
After 70 hours without food or water, Eva and her family emerged onto the selection platform at Auschwitz. Eva believes no other strip of land in the world has seen as many families ripped apart.
Eva soon realized her father and two older sisters were gone. She never saw them again. Soon after, the girls were forcibly taken from their mother, whom they also never saw again. Eva and Miriam became part of a group of children used as human guinea pigs in genetic experiments under the direction of Dr. Josef Mengele. Approximately 1500 sets of twins—3000 children—were abused, and most died as a result of these experiments. Eva herself became deathly ill, but through sheer determination, she stayed alive and helped Miriam survive.
Approximately 200 children were found alive by the Soviet Army at the liberation of the camp on January 27, 1945. The majority of the children were Mengele twins. Eva and Miriam Mozes were among them. Eva and Miriam no longer had anyone in the world except each other. They were in three different refugee camps over the next nine months before returning to live with their aunt in Romania. Although free from Auschwitz, Eva struggled to feel free as Communists took over Romania.
It wasn't until immigrating to Israel in 1950 that Eva and Miriam became unafraid of persecution because they were Jews. Over the next 10 years, Eva received a good education from an agricultural school, and went on to attain the rank of Sergeant Major in the Israeli Army Engineering Corps. She met Michael Kor, a Holocaust survivor and American tourist. In 1960, the couple was married in Tel Aviv and Eva joined Mickey in the United States.
In 1965, Eva became a US citizen, and the couple raised two children, Alex and Rina. In 1978, after NBC's miniseries The Holocaust aired, Eva began to wonder what had happened to the children after the liberation. Where had they gone? What had they done? How had the trauma of Auschwitz and the experiments affected their lives? These questions motivated her to search for surviving Auschwitz twins.
Eva enlisted the help of Miriam, who was still living in Israel. Together they began locating other survivors of Dr. Mengele's deadly experiments. In 1984, Eva founded CANDLES, Children of Auschwitz Nazi Deadly Lab Experiments Survivors, and named her sister Vice President for Israeli Survivors. Eva liked the acronym CANDLES because she wanted to shed some light on this hidden and dark chapter of the Holocaust.
For nearly forty years, the now infamous experiments had not been a topic of Holocaust conversations, so little was known about them. On January 27, 1985, six Mengele twins met at Auschwitz II-Birkenau to observe the 40th anniversary of the camp's liberation. They continued on to Jerusalem for a mock trial for Mengele, where 80 twins participated. The Auschwitz observance and mock trial generated worldwide publicity and helped locate even more Mengele Twins. The US Congress even passed a resolution to begin a search for Mengele. As a result of the Mozes twins' efforts in the early years, CANDLES reconnected 122 individual twins living across ten countries and four continents.
Fifty years after the liberation of Auschwitz, Eva returned to the site and stood where so many were tragically murdered. At her side was Dr. Hans Münch, a Nazi doctor who knew Dr. Mengele, but did not work with him in Auschwitz. Eva read Dr. Münch's signed witness statement to contradict those who denied the Holocaust. To the surprise of many, she then freed herself from her victim status and announced to the world that—in her name alone–she forgave the Nazis. An incredible weight of suffering was lifted and she felt strong. Offering her forgiveness healed Eva, but it did not mean she would forget or that it changed what happened.
Forgiving the Nazis drew mixed reactions and controversy. Throughout each subsequent conversation about forgiveness, Eva remained insistent that the act was for her well-being alone and not intended to dismiss the Holocaust. Eva's forgiveness was the catalyst that broadened CANDLES' focus to include peace on both a personal and societal level.
In 1995, Eva opened a small museum in Terre Haute, Indiana, her home since 1960. With the purpose of educating, the museum housed various artifacts from Auschwitz and documents relating to Dr. Mengele. Thousands of people, mostly school-aged children, have visited the CANDLES Holocaust Museum and Education Center since then.
Eva and the work of CANDLES was interrupted by a devastating arson in November of 2003. Though the museum was destroyed, CANDLES was not. Surviving the camps taught Eva "to never, ever give up." The need for CANDLES and its message of peace and forgiveness was made even more evident by this act of hatred.
Through the generosity of countless local and national supporters, CANDLES rose from the ashes and erected a new building. By April of 2005, CANDLES Holocaust Museum and Education Center was reopened to the public. Instead of destroying CANDLES, the attack strengthened the organization's resolve and brought it into the public eye. CANDLES established a board of directors to assist with the administration of the new facility and help communicate its important messages.
Over twenty-five years later, Eva remains an integral part of the organization. Her lectures and guided tours are key elements of CANDLES' educational mission. She has returned to Auschwitz on numerous occasions, often accompanied by friends and members of the community (particularly educators) so that they can share what they have learned with their students and future generations.
In 2007, Eva worked with state legislators Clyde Kersey and Tim Skinner to gain passage of an Indiana law requiring Holocaust education in secondary schools. In the summer of 2009, Eva taught a course at Indiana State University on the value and philosophy of overcoming adversity in life using the Holocaust as an example.
Today, Holocaust education, the story of the Mengele Twins, and personal forgiveness form the foundation of CANDLES Holocaust Museum and Education Center. Through an ever-broadening vision, we teach its visitors the importance of respect, equality, and peace.
Thank you for your interest in me and my story. Unfortunately, there are only so many hours in a day, and it is simply impossible to grant all of the interviews or personally answer each email. I wish I could talk to everyone for as long as they have questions, but it is just not realistic if I want to stay healthy and live as long as I can, which I intend to be a very long time.
So, with a little help, I have created a list of the questions people most commonly ask me during interviews or lectures, and their answers.
The main question I would like for you to ask yourself is, "What should I do to make sure I have the most accurate information about Eva Kor for my project?"
Please use verified sources of information which include:
The CANDLES website
This questionnaire with answers, compiled by me, Mrs. Kor. It's a real deal!
The young adult book, Surviving the Angel of Death. I helped write it, I know it's true!
For more detailed information, my autobiography, Echoes of Auschwitz. It's my life!
The award-winning documentary, Forgiving Dr. Mengele The CNN Documentary, Voices of Auschwitz
My Wikipedia entry, which CANDLES staff monitors closely to maintain accuracy.
My Quora answers
I would recommend that you refrain from using random articles from the Internet, unless they are from reputable news agencies or organizations. Many times the authors of these articles do not get their facts correct, or I am misquoted, which causes confusion.
Also ask yourself: "What do I want people to learn from my project?" I ask myself a similar question when I am speaking to a group or giving an interview. "What do I want people to learn from my lecture?"
I wish you the best of luck with your project, and I appreciate your efforts to educate your classmates about my story, forgiveness, and the Holocaust. Above all, remember that Forgiveness is a seed for peace. Anger is a seed for war.
Auschwitz survivor and Mengele Twin Eva Mozes Kor can be contacted by calling the museum at 812-234-7881.
STUDENTS: Eva receives many requests for interviews from students all over the world; unfortunately, there is not adequate time in the day to respond to all. Please use the resources provided at the tab marked "Students: Frequently Asked Questions about Eva" to learn about her life story. Most questions can be answered through these materials, which will help save Eva's time and energy.
Get up-to-the-minute news about Eva by following her on Twitter @evamozeskor. You may also want to follow CANDLES @candlesmuseum and Executive Director Kiel Majewski @kielmajewski.
Auschwitz survivor Eva Kor will be speaking in the following cities soon. Check our website regularly for updates, and keep in mind that Eva speaks every Saturday (unless she is out of town) at the museum starting at 1 pm. Email firstname.lastname@example.org for more information or to bring Eva Kor to your city!
January 26, 2016 - Birmingham, AL
February 2, 2016 - Richmond, IN
February 18, 2016 - Harrin, IL
February 26, 2016 - Indianapolis, IN
April 6, 2016 - Sioux City, IA
April 11, 2016 - Albion, PA
April 28, 2016 - Lake Charles, LA
May 6, 2016 - Santa Barbara, CA
August 31, 2016 - Indianpolis, IN
September 23, 2016 - Flossmoor and Olympia Fields, IL
October 10, 2016 - Indianapolis, IN
October 27, 2016 - Kansas Ciy, MO
November 1, 2016 - Glasgow, MT
1985: News Woman of the Year voted by the Israeli Press.
1985: Jewish Activism Award by News & Views, a Jewish radio station in New York.
1990: Emmy Award (regional) for co-producing the video, "CANDLES."
1995: Woman of Valor by the Terre Haute Jewish Community.
2004: January, Martin Luther King Spirit of Justice Award.
2004: January, Gibault Exellence Award, Education Sector.
2004: April, Americanism Award by the Daughters of the American Revolution.
2005: January, Sagamore of the Wabash by Governor Joe Kernan.
2005: November, Keeper of the Light, a Woman Torch Bearer Award.
2006: Hoosier Heroes Award by Indiana Dollars for Scholars.
2008: May, Honorary Doctorate of Humane Letters, St. Mary-of-the-Woods College.
2008: August, Forgiveness Hero Award, Worldwide Forgiveness Alliance.
2010: June, Education Outreach and Service Award
2012: February, Ambassador of Goodwill, Arkansas Traveler.
2012: November, Distinguished Hoosier, State of Indiana Office of Governor Mitch Daniels.
2013: May, Honorary Doctor of Public Service, Christian Theological Seminary.
2014: March, Community Global Engagement Award, Indiana State University.
2015: April, United Way of the Wabash Valley Woman of Influence.
2015: Femme a’ l’honneur, Prix du Pardon.
2015: The Mike Vogel Humanitarian Award.
2015: Anne Frank: Change the World Award.
2015: 2nd Place, FOLCS: Forum on Law, Culture, and Society.
2015: Indiana Heroes Award, Indiana Wesleyan University.
2015: Mid-America Regional Emmy, Forgiving the Nazis: Life Lessons from the Holocaust.
2015: November, Honorary Eagle, Florida Gulf Coast University.
2016: April, Daughters of WWII, The Bush Institute.
2016: April, Make a Difference Award, WTHI-TV.