Eva Kor 1934–2019
The survivor of Nazi twin experiments who forgave her torturers
When Eva Kor’s family arrived at Auschwitz in 1944, an SS guard asked whether 10-year-old Eva and her sister Miriam were twins. “Is it good?” their mother asked. The Nazi nodded. “They are twins,” she confirmed. The girls were separated from their parents and two older sisters, who all died in the gas chambers, and joined the 1,500 sets of twins experimented on by Dr. Josef Mengele, the “Angel of Death.” Only 200 individuals survived his sadistic, pseudoscientific tests, including Eva and Miriam. In later years, Kor campaigned to raise awareness of Mengele’s victims while also preaching a philosophy of forgiveness. “Nothing good ever comes from anger,” she said.
Kor was born to farmers in the Romanian community of Portz, where her family were “the only Jews in town,” said The Washington Post. After she was sent to the death camp, Kor said, “Everything in the world was done to me.” She received up to five mysterious injections a day, one of which gave her a near-fatal fever. Kor collapsed during a test to ascertain how much blood a person can lose without dying. After being liberated by the Soviets, the sisters emigrated to Israel.
In 1960, Kor moved to Terre Haute, Ind., with her husband, Michael, “a fellow Holocaust survivor,” said The New York Times. There, she established CANDLES, a nonprofit that connects Mengele’s victims, and in 1993 Kor returned to Auschwitz to meet Hans Münch, a repentant Nazi doctor. In 2015, she testified against 93-year-old Oskar Gröning—Auschwitz’s “bookkeeper of death”—at his trial in Germany. Then she publicly embraced the former SS officer, infuriating some survivors. “I do it not because they deserve it,” she said of offering forgiveness, “but because I deserve it.”