TERRE HAUTE, Ind. (WTWO) – Local Holocaust survivor Eva Kor has passed away.
She was 85-years-old.
Her passing was announced by the CANDLES Holocaust Museum. In a statement, the museum says:
“We are deeply saddened to announce the passing of Eva Kor, Holocaust survivor, forgiveness advocate, and founder of CANDLES Holocaust Museum and Education Center. Eva passed peacefully today, July 4th, 2019, at 7:10am local time in Krakow, Poland on the annual CANDLES trip to Poland.”
Kor was born in 1934 in the village of Portz, Romania. At the age of 10, she and her family were taken to the Auschwitz Concentration Camp.
Kor shared her story with people around the world and advocated a message of forgiveness, while speaking out against injustice.
Kor also worked with Indiana state legislators to pass a state law that requires Holocaust education in secondary schools.
Over the years, Eva Kor went back to a place that caused her so much pain: the Auschwitz Concentration Camp.
“I was a very scared kid, but I had to be strong for Miriam,” said Kor.
“Thousands of people pulled out of the cattle car and onto that selection platform,” Eva recalled.
Nazi guards decided who would live and who would die in gas chambers.
“I realized my father and two older sisters disappeared in the crowd, never ever to see them again. Another Nazi came and pulled my mother to the right. We were pulled to the left. We were crying. She was crying. I never got to say goodbye to her. I remember looking at her and she looked back at us with her arms stretched out in despair,” said Eva.
Eva lost every member of her immediate family, but one. She and Miriam were spared, only to be a part of human medical experiments on twins performed by Dr. Joseph Mengele.
“There were 2-year-olds, 3-year-olds, 4-year-olds, 5-year-olds who stayed there,” Eva said.
In 1945, the camp was liberated. Eva and Miriam were cared for by a former neighbor, then an aunt.
She eventually married another Holocaust survivor Mickey Kor, who had relocated to Terre Haute, but according to her son, Eva’s past affected her.
“She was an angry person. I don’t know that she was angry at me or my sister, or my father, but she was not a happy person,” said Alex Kor.
Then, in 1995, she decided to forgive the Nazi’s for what they did and that changed her.
“We have to look at what do we want out of life and enjoy life. Being angry has never accomplished any of those things. Getting even has never healed one single human victim,” said Eva.
Eva opened the CANDLES Holocaust Musuem and spent the last decades of her life spreading the message that forgiveness heals, while speaking out against injustice.
“I am a happy person who is working hard to prevent other little children from being ripped from their loving mothers,” said Eva.
“I think a lot of people can find that they learn a lot from what my mom’s done and hopefully improve their own lives,” said Alex.
Eva’s twin sister died of kidney cancer back in 1993. Eva always believed the cancer was caused by the drugs used on Miriam during the Nazi experiments.
Besides the museum, a book, an interactive Hologram and documentaries about her life will allow her legacy to continue to live on with today’s students.
Thanks to her efforts, a law requires history about the Holocaust to be taught in Indiana high schools.
“The world just lost a giant with Eva Kor’s passing. Janet and I loved and adored her. Everywhere she went, Eva brought light into darkness and provided comfort to those in pain unlike anyone we’ve ever met. From her against all odds survival as a young girl in Auschwitz to her peace spreading message based from home in Terre Haute, Indiana, her relentless and optimistic example inspired the world. Her angelic spirit will live on in the countless souls she saved from ongoing confusion and torment. Janet and I are reminded just how blessed we are to have her as a friend. We will miss her laughter, her wisdom and her passion. We call on every Hoosier to look above on this Independence Day and say a prayer for Eva and the family and nation she leaves behind.”GOV. ERIC HOLCOMB
Recently, the 85-year-old Kor had been experiencing some health problems. She underwent heart surgery before her most recent trip to Poland.
Her assistant said Kor had been battling a cold and was having some breathing issues.
Her most recent trip to Poland had just gotten underway when she passed away in her hotel room.
Eva Kor has touched hundreds of thousands of people over her 85 years through her message of overcoming tragedy, finding forgiveness, and healing. Surviving the Holocaust at age 10 meant that Eva emerged from a childhood full of fear, loss, grief, and displacement. She and her twin sister, Miriam, were the sole survivors of her immediate family, losing two sisters, her mother, and father on the selection platform at Auschwitz. In addition, she and Miriam were put through the horrific and inhumane experiments by Nazi doctor Josef Mengele. But rather than allowing the darkest moments of her life to define her, she moved forward headfirst into a life of purpose.
Serving eight years in the Israeli army, Eva tried to create a new life for herself through learning a new trade and getting to know her fellow soldiers. After meeting another survivor and getting married, Eva moved from Tel Aviv, Israel, to Terre Haute, IN, where she spoke no English. Learning the language, raising two children, and working in real estate for 34 years, Eva tried to put her past behind her. But when the NBC special The Holocaust premiered, Eva realized the community finally had context for her tragic history. This newfound visibility and understanding led to a path filled with searching for Dr. Mengele’s files, speaking all over the world, helping individuals in search of their own healing, and founding a museum that continues to grow every year. Eva blazed trails for Holocaust education and brought the story of the Mengele twins and Dr. Mengele’s experiments into the international spotlight.
The themes of Eva’s life are apparent. We can overcome hardship and tragedy. Forgiveness can help us to heal. And everyone has the power and responsibility to make this world a better place.
We hope Eva’s story continues to change the lives of those who hear it for many years to come.”
Rep. Larry Bucshon released this statement surrounding Eva on Thursday:
“A person who had become a friend, Eva Moses Kor passed away today in Krakow, Poland while on her annual trip to visit Auschwitz. Eva survived the Holocaust and became a staunch supporter of forgiveness. She lived a consequential life and will be missed.”
Governor Eric Holcomb released this statement:
“The world just lost a giant with Eva Kor’s passing. Janet and I loved and adored her. Everywhere she went, Eva brought light into darkness and provided comfort to those in pain unlike anyone we’ve ever met. From her against all odds survival as a young girl in Auschwitz to her peace spreading message based from home in Terre Haute, Indiana, her relentless and optimistic example inspired the world. Her angelic spirit will live on in the countless souls she saved from ongoing confusion and torment. Janet and I are reminded just how blessed we are to have her as a friend. We will miss her laughter, her wisdom and her passion. We call on every Hoosier to look above on this Independence Day and say a prayer for Eva and the family and nation she leaves behind.”
(This story was originally published on July 4, 2019)