TERRE HAUTE, Ind. (WISH) —Eva Kor has a story to tell. One of unimaginable pain and suffering and inspirational healing.
It’s a story so compelling that students from all over the state stop by her museum, CANDLES Holocaust Museum and Education Center in Terre Haute, to hear it.
Kor tells the group of kids, “We were being taken to Germany to be murdered.”
The year was 1944. 10-year old Eva, her parents, two older sisters and her twin Miriam had been captured from their home in Transylvania, Romania. At the end of May, the Mozes family was squeezed inside a cattle car, where they didn’t eat or drink for days and taken to Auschwitz, the most notorious death camp in Germany.
“Thousands of people pulled out to a cattle car onto a little strip of land called the selection platform,” she explained.
Kor has a replica of the selection platform in her museum. It’s where Nazis decided, upon arrival, who would live and who would die.
“At that moment, another Nazi came, pulled my mother to the right. We were pulled to the left. We were crying. She was crying. All I remember is seeing her arms stretched out in despair as she was pulled away,” Kors said.
Within 30 minutes of arriving, Kor lost her entire family. She never saw them again, except Miriam. The sisters joined dozens of other twins who became genetic experiments at the hands of the infamous doctor Josef Mengele.
“There they would tie both of my arms, take a lot of blood from my left arm and at the same time they would give me a minimum of five injections in my right arm. Those were the deadly ones,” she described.
To this day, Kor doesn’t know what was being injected into her body. After one injection, she became very ill.
“It was August. The sun was burning my skin. I was standing outside and I was still shivering,” she recalled.
Kor was taken to a hospital at Auschwitz. Because she was near death, she wasn’t given any food or water.
“The next morning, Dr. Mengele came in with four other doctors. He never examined me. All he did, he looked at my fever chart and then he declared, laughing sarcastically, he said ‘Too bad. She’s too young. She only has two weeks to live,’” she said.
Kor refused to die. Two weeks later, through sheer determination, her fever broke. Not long after, she was released from the hospital and went back to the barracks with her sister.
“Would I have died, Miriam would have been immediately rushed to Mengele’s lab, killed with an injection to the heart and then Mengele would’ve done comparative autopsies,” said Kor.
A turning point came when Kor volunteered to be a food carrier. She started stealing potatoes for her survival as well as Miriam’s. She got caught. She feared what was next. But she was not killed.
“I found out a very important thing. As long as Mengele wanted us alive, no one dared harm us,” she said.
Then came Jan. 27, 1945. That was the day they were set free. A photo of their liberation is on display at the museum, where Kor is treated like a movie star. She signs autographs and takes pictures with fans who line up to hear her story in person. It’s quite a contrast from her earlier years.
“As you go through life, in any situation, there is always hope after despair and there is always a tomorrow after disaster,” said Kor.
For more information on Kor’s experience before, during and after Auschwitz, and/or group trips with Kor to Auschwitz, visit the CANDLES Holocaust Museum and Education Center’s website here.