Holocaust survivor spreads message of forgiveness
Eva Mozes was 10 years old in May 1944 when she and her twin sister, Miriam, and their family were taken from their hometown in Romania to the Nazi concentration camp at Auschwitz.
It was just three weeks before Allied forces would turn the tide of the war in Europe in their favor by storming the beach at Normandy, France, on D-Day, June 6.
Eva didn't know about the invasion at the time. "But I sure wish that D-Day would have happened a month earlier," she said. "Maybe the Nazis wouldn't have been able to take us away."
Eva and Miriam were the only members of their family to survive Auschwitz. They spent about eight months in the camp before they were liberated by Soviet forces.
But the memories of the horrific, inhumane genetic experiments conducted on them by Dr. Josef Mengele, the so-called "Angel of Death," would stay with them for a lifetime. Mengele had a special interest in studying twins. Some were injected with chemicals and endured surgeries without anesthesia.
Miriam died in 1993. Eva believes her twin's kidney damage was related to the Nazi experiments. Eva said she had to find a way to cope with Miriam's death, so she opened CANDLES Holocaust Museum and Education Center in Terra Haute, Indiana, where she still lives with her husband, Michael Kor, a fellow Holocaust survivor, and their two children, Alex and Rina.
After decades of grief, confusion, outrage, and feelings of isolation, Eva decided to forgive Mengele and her other Nazi captors. She said the monumental shift took place for her when she asked herself a question.
"Do I deserve to live a better life than these memories permit me?" she asked. "I would say yes. How on earth am I going to accomplish that? By getting even or creating more victims? No!"
Today, Eva continues to travel around the country teaching children about victimization. She tells them they have no control over the past.
"But they have control every day over what they do with their lives," she explained. "They should forgive people who neglected them, or abused them, or didn't treat them right because it will make them feel better about themselves and it will change the relationship."
She will be in Rochester for a special screening of the documentary film, "Eva A-7063" at the Jewish Community Center at 6:30 p.m. Sunday. She and filmmaker Ted Green will participate in a discussion after the screening.
Click on the LISTEN link above to hear an interview with Eva.