81-year-old Holocaust survivor Eva Kor recounted her memories of being one of Dr. Josef Mengele’s human guinea pigs in a letter to Oskar Groening, a former member of the SS at Auschwitz-Birkenau who is on trial in Germany for 300,000 counts of accessory to murder:
In May 1944, when we were taken to Auschwitz, my name was Eva Mozes. My family and I were part of the Hungarian transport. My family included my father Alexander Mozes, 44 years old; my mother Jaffa Mozes, 38 years old; my older sister Edit, 14 years old; my middle sister Aliz, 12 years old; and my twin sister, Miriam, 10 years old. Within thirty minutes after arriving on the selection platform, Miriam and I were ripped apart from our family forever. Only she and I survived, because we were used in experiments conducted by .
Within half an hour we became part of a group of twin girls aged two to sixteen: thirteen sets of little girls and one mother. We were taken to a processing center where they cut our hair short and took our clothes away. That evening they returned them with a red cross at the backs. Then they lined us up for tattooing. When my turn came, I decided to cause them as much trouble as a ten year-old could. Two Nazis and two women prisoners restrained me with all their force. They began by heating a needle. When the needle got hot, they dipped it into ink and burned into my left arm, dot by dot, the capital letter A-7063. Miriam became A-7064…
For the next two weeks I only have one clear memory: I was crawling on the floor because I could no longer walk. I was crawling to reach a faucet with water because they did not even give us water anymore.
In 1984, Kor founded CANDLES (Children of Auschwitz Nazi Deadly Lab Experiments Survivors), in an effort to locate other surviving Mengele twins; and in 1995 she opened the CANDLES Holocaust Museum and Education Center in Terra Haute, Indiana. She calls herself a “forgiveness advocate,” teaching children:
1. Never give up on yourself or your dreams. I did not know how to survive Auschwitz, but I was determined to do it. Here I am 70 years later because I never gave up.
2. Treat people with respect and fairness to eliminate prejudice from your life.
3. Forgive your worst enemy and forgive anybody who [h]as ever hurt you. I forgave the Nazis and I forgave everybody who hurt me.
Kor is one of the Holocaust survivors testifying at Groening’s trial. On its first day, Groening told the court that “it is beyond question that I am morally complicit. This moral guilt I acknowledge here, before the victims, with regret and humility.” Kor told him, “I appreciate the fact that you are willing to come here and face us.” She offered the defendant her hand, and he took it, brought her into a near embrace, and kissed her on the cheek.
Your Ethics Alarms Ethics Quiz as this week ends is…