Eva Mozes Kor elicited the help of students at Homewood-Flossmoor High School to create and send one million tweets on forgiveness.
It is part of her ongoing efforts to encourage an understanding of how important forgiveness is in bringing peace to the world.
“You can’t just stand by and let (prejudice) happen. Join me in my campaign. We’ll send one million tweets and let’s see what we can accomplish,” she told students.
Kor, a Holocaust survivor, was a guest presenter at H-F on Friday. Her visit was part of a south suburban presentation on forgiveness sponsored by three congregations, B’nai Yehuda Beth Sholom and Congregation Am Echad of Homewood and Temple Anshe Sholom of Olympia Fields, with primary funding from the Jewish United Fund of Chicago.
Kor and her sister, Miriam, were part of Josef Mengele’s experiments conducted on twins at the Nazi death camp at Auschwitz during World War II to determine genetic origins of various diseases.
Today Kor says she has forgiven her abusers, and shares her story and her message through speeches given across the United States. She founded the CANDLES Holocaust Museum and Education Center in Terre Haute, Ind., and is the author, with Lisa Rojany Buccieri, of “Surviving the Angel of Death: The Story of a Mengele Twin in Auschwitz.”
Kor’s efforts to forgive the tormentors of Nazi Germany have made her an international personality. She has been featured on various programs and soon will be the focus of a CNN cable program.
Offering forgiveness can be difficult, but Kor says it also can be empowering.
“It costs nothing. It has no side effects. It is so invigorating,” she told more than 500 H-F students.
Eva and Miriam Kor were 10-year-old Jews living in Romania when their family was forced into cattle cars for a four-day trip into Germany. They were one of 1,500 sets of twins used in experiments overseen by Mengele. Just 200 pairs survived.
Kor was too young to realize what was happening to her and Mariam, but she made a silent pledge to herself that they would survive.
She remembers being left naked for hours with doctors measuring every area of her body. She became very ill after she was injected five times with poisons, although she never knew what they were. She developed a high fever and suffered with it for two weeks. She remembers Mengele coming in and predicting, after looking at Kor’s chart, that she would live no more than two weeks.
“I refused to die,” she said. Two weeks passed and she was reunited with Mariam who had been placed in isolation for monitoring to compare her outcome to her sister’s.
The twins were liberated in January 1945 by Russian troops. They returned to their town in Romania and were cared for by an aunt until they emigrated to Israel. Her sister became an Israeli citizen and Kor met and married an American, also a Holocaust survivor, and moved to Terre Haute.
She didn’t begin to speak of her experiences until 1978, and then she began searching for other Holocaust twins who survived. She found 122 sets of twins living around the world. She collected their stories to bring to life another facet of the horrors of the Holocaust.
Kor knows there are Holocaust deniers, so she got a former Nazi doctor to meet her in 1995 and sign an affidavit saying he’d been responsible for deaths at the Auschwitz gas chambers. She, in turn, offered her forgiveness.
“After 50 years, I had the power over the ‘Angel of Death.’ Victims want to get even, but the victim never wins,” she told the students.
By contrast, “Forgiveness is a seed for peace,” Kor told them.