After being transported to Auschwitz, Eva Mozes Kor and her twin sister Miriam were subjected to gruesome medical experiments under the infamous Nazi doctor, Josef Mengele – “The Angel of Death”. Eva and Miriam lived long enough to be liberated by Soviet soldiers, but the rest of their family wasn’t so lucky: They were all killed at the camp. Eva recently took to Reddit to answer some questions about her experience as part of their “Ask Me Anything” Q & A series. If you want to know more, you can check out the documentary Forgiving Dr. Mengele, available here.
When I was 10 years old, my family and I were taken to Auschwitz. My twin sister Miriam and I were separated from my mother, father, and two older sisters. We never saw any of them again. We became part of a group of twin children used in medical and genetic experiments under the direction of Nazi doctor Josef Mengele. I became gravely ill, at which point Mengele told me “Too bad – you only have two weeks to live.” I proved him wrong. I survived. In 1993, I met a Nazi doctor named Hans Munch. He signed a document testifying to the existence of the gas chambers. I decided to forgive him, in my name alone. Then I decided to forgive all the Nazis for what they did to me. It didn’t mean I would forget the past, or that I was condoning what they did. It meant that I was finally free from the baggage of victimhood. I encourage all victims of trauma and violence to consider the idea of forgiveness – not because the perpetrators deserve it, but because the victims deserve it.
Here’s a sample question and answer from the discussion:
Hello Eva, and welcome to Reddit! I have two questions for you:
Did you struggle with the decision to forgive the Nazis?
What was Dr. Mengele like as a person? Was he the evil psychotic monster the world has come to know him as, or was he simply a man interested in his experiments and didn’t let ethics stand in the way?
How does Schindler’s List compare to the reality? Did it capture the feeling well?
No struggle to forgive. From the moment I realized I had that power over my life, that was an extremely exciting discovery, because most victims do not know they have any power over their lives from the time they become victims. The difference between forgiving and not forgiving (and most survivors remain angry, sad, disconnected from the world at times because they can’t cope) they pass on these feelings to their children, who also become angry. I call anger a seed for war. Forgiveness is a seed for peace.
Mengele was very matter of fact in all the times I had seen him. Only a couple of times I saw him yell when the supervisors didn’t do something or one of his “guinea pigs” died. I have never seen him do the autopsies, I just saw him supervise the counting and observation of us. I believe he was a dedicated Nazi – dedicated to helping Hitler and the Nazi ideology and he was willing to do everything to accomplish that. There was no limit. Experiments in Auschwitz were done on people who he did not even consider human beings. Mengele never talked to me – he talked about me and he talked at me. I don’t think that was the case with all the twins, but that is what happened to me.
Everything I liked about Schindler’s List was because it was very good at describing the confusion the victims felt. We did not know what would happen at any moment. There was no rule, rhyme, or reason for what happened. We never knew what any Nazi would do or what we should be waiting for. I did not like the scenes where Oskar Schindler jumps into bed with naked women. I am sure it happened but it didn’t add anything to telling the story of the Holocaust. Now when it showed naked people standing for roll call, that was correct. Then it was illustrating historic events. But the jumping in bed, that was just Hollywood I guess. And it was a Hollywood movie, so I guess we have to give Steven Spielberg some leeway.