Skip to main content

The Journal Gazette

  • Holocaust survivor Eva Kor describes her time at Auschwitz on Monday at Indiana Tech. Kor, 85, talked about the conditions at the concentration camp, and the medical experiments she endured. (Michelle Davies | The Journal Gazette)

Tuesday, March 19, 2019 1:00 am

Surviving the Holocaust

85-year-old relates memories to rapt Indiana Tech crowd

ASHLEY SLOBODA | The Journal Gazette

The tattoo Eva Kor received at Auschwitz has faded, yet her memories of the Holocaust seemed vivid Monday as she addressed a packed theater at Indiana Tech.

“Dying in Auschwitz was very easy,” Kor said. “Surviving was a full-time job.”

The lecture was free, but reservations were recommended due to limited seating in the Snyder Academic Center's multiflex theater. The event was described as sold out online.

Kor captivated the audience more than an hour, sharing such grim details as finding corpses of three children in a concentration camp latrine.

She wasn't humorless, however.

“I am a survivor of Auschwitz, a survivor of medical experiments conducted by Dr. (Josef) Mengele. And now that I am 85 years old, I'm desperately trying to survive old age,” Kor said, introducing herself.

Born in a tiny village in Romania, Kor was 10 when her family was loaded onto a cattle car and taken to the concentration camp. The journey was hot and cramped, with no place to sit and no water to drink, Kor said. The 100 passengers were told they'd be shot if they tried to escape.

At Auschwitz, Kor and her twin sister were quickly separated from their parents and two older sisters. Kor, who revisits Auschwitz annually with about 200 others, said she always points out a 35-foot-by-85-foot area.

“I stand there on the selection platform, and I tell people to imagine this is where we got off the cattle car, and forever I was ripped apart from my family,” she said.

Kor and her twin were subjected to medical experiments supervised by Nazi doctor Mengele, known as the “Angel of Death.” They ranged from demeaning – taking body measurements – to dangerous, she said, noting she became seriously ill after receiving an injection.

Kor never learned what germs and diseases were in the injections, although she hoped to learn more from Hans Munch, a Nazi doctor at Auschwitz whom she met in the 1990s.

After the meeting, Kor wrote Munch a letter of forgiveness and, when the pair met again in 1995, she issued a declaration of amnesty to all Nazis.

“I cannot erase what happened,” Kor said. “I cannot forget it. It is part of who I am. But I found by forgiving, I had the upper hand, and I could be proud of myself.”

Kor opened the CANDLES Holocaust Museum and Education Center in Terre Haute in 1995. CANDLES stands for Children of Auschwitz Nazi Deadly Lab Experiments Survivors. Go to www.candlesholocaustmuseum.org, to read her amnesty declaration.

“Here in Auschwitz,” the document signed by Kor states, “I hope in some small way to send the world a message of forgiveness, a message of peace, a message of hope, a message of healing.”

asloboda@jg.net