Resilient. Empathetic. Endearing. There are many words to describe Eva Kor’s engaging personality, but one rises to the top – forgiving. As a Holocaust survivor, her story is both haunting and captivating. Kor is a twin who shared unimaginable experiences with her sister; their shared DNA was the focus of the Nazi’s Mengele experiments using twins as test subjects.
As an immigrant in 1960, one of Kor’s biggest challenges was learning to speak English. She turned to her local library as a resource for not only learning a new language, but for navigating her new community. By soaking in the library’s resources, talking with neighbors and watching the news, Kor assimilated to life in Terre Haute, Ind.
Later in life, Kor’s need to find the other twins subjected to the experiments led her to create the CANDLES Foundation, “Children of Auschwitz Nazi Deadly Lab Experiments Survivors.”
It is her ability to have forgiven her Nazi captors that is remarkable. “The message of forgiveness is a hard concept. When life has handed you something that is painful, you have a choice. You can forgive. It does not mean you forget, but it means you are no longer a victim. We always need to have hope in life,” said Kor.
“I cannot envision living in a world where we aren’t helping one another. Having people around me that I can relate to, who I can help and they can help me. Knowing our neighbors creates community,” she said.
It was during those neighborly conversations with other young mothers that Kor realized the black community center didn’t have a nursery. Inspired to do something in memory of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and Robert F. Kennedy, she opened a daycare. “I felt very strongly that my children, black children, white children, underprivileged children – were all going to share the same world. If I can improve the outlook for children, we can make a difference.”
Kor continues to spread her message of forgiveness and unity to people worldwide. “Not to say one person can’t make a difference, but doing things together we can make a bigger difference.”