Photos and story by Reana Gibson / Contributing Writer
Holocaust survivor and Mengele Twin Eva Mozes Kor spoke at MTSU on Tuesday morning. “Eva: A-7063,” a new documentary, was shown at the start of the lecture. The film centered on her journey from her time in Auschwitz to now and how much she has changed.
Kor was born January 31, 1934, in Port, Romania. She and her twin sister, Miriam, were the youngest of four siblings. In 1944, Kor’s family was transported to Auschwitz-Birkenau. Kor spoke about her and her sister’s time in the camp. Due to being identical twins, they were among the many twins selected for German SS Officer Josef Mengele’s experiments.
“At night we would huddle in our filthy bunk beds, infested with lice and rats,” Kor said. “We were starved for food … Monday, Wednesday and Friday, every morning we would be awoken at 5. By 6, we would be outside for roll, summer (or) winter, rain or shine. They would measure just about every part of my body, compare it to my twin sister’s and compare it to charts.”
On a Saturday in late July to early August, Kor had become very ill after receiving injections at what she dubbed the “Blood Lab.” She attempted to hide her illness, due to hearing rumors about no one ever coming back from the “hospital.” Nonetheless, they discovered her fever after her femur was measured.
“Mengele never, ever examined me,” Kor said. “He looked at my chart, then he declared while laughing sarcastically, ‘It’s too bad. She’s so young. She has only two weeks to live.’”
She described how determined she was not to die, and how her survival put a wrench in Mengele’s plan to do a comparative autopsy. During the time she was sick, her sister was subjected to experiments that neither of them spoke about until 40 years after the liberation.
They were liberated on January 22, 1945, and spent nine months in refugee camps. When they arrived home in October, they found that they were the only survivors of their immediate family and were taken in by their father’s younger sister. A couple years later, Kor joined the Communist party and remained there in order to finish school in Romania.
Kor spoke about the importance of forgiveness and loving one another. She recalled a month after her sister’s death in 1993, she was contacted by a professor at a university in Boston to give a lecture. The professor asked her to bring a Nazi doctor.
She remembered the doctor that was featured in the last documentary she and her sister worked on together in 1992 and got his telephone number through the station. She contacted him, stating that he “was not her doctor but was Mengele’s friend.”
“I invited him to Boston, (and) he declined,” she said. “But he was willing to meet with me at his house in Germany. He treated me with kindness, utmost respect and consideration, but didn’t know anything about our experiments because Mengele never shared anything … As the camera crew was wrapping up, I didn’t plan to ask him, but I heard myself say, ‘Dr. Münch, you were in Auschwitz, right? Did you ever walk by a gas chamber? Did you ever go inside it? Do you know how the gas chambers operated?’ And he said, ‘Yes. Yes. Yes. This is the nightmare that I lived with every single day.’”
Kor had invited Munch to attend with her the 50th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz and had him sign a document confirming the atrocities committed in Auschwitz at the ruins of the gas chambers. She brainstormed on how to thank Munch and came up with a letter of forgiveness.
While she had learned to forgive Munch, Kor’s former English professor told her that she was not ready to forgive. She was told to pretend that Mengele was in her room and forgive him.
“It made me feel unbelievably good that I even had the power to forgive the ‘Angel of Death’ of Auschwitz,” she said.
Concluding her lecture, Kor answered questions that members of the audience had with the four life lessons that she learned through her experiences:
Never give up.
Prejudice is equal to hatred.
One should never give into prejudice.
Forgiveness will heal and set the soul free, and plant seeds of peace to make the world better.
“When you are a victim, there is a hidden desire that someday you will be more powerful than your perpetrator,” Kor said. “I did not understand it until I forgave Mengele and the Nazis. By forgiving them, I became more powerful than what they did to me.”
After the lecture, Kor held a book signing where she was able to meet and talk to each fan that bought her book, “Surviving the Angel of Death: The True Story of a Mengele Twin in Auschwitz.”
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