In May of 1944, Eva Mozes Kor and her family arrived at their death sentence – Auschwitz.
Seventy-one years later, Eva – who survived the nightmare – remains dedicated to practicing and preaching forgiveness, and she is doing so in a remarkable way.
Upon arrival at Auschwitz, Eva and her twin sister Miriam were immediately separated from the rest of their family and thrown into a group with other twin girls.
While the rest of their family was murdered, the 10-year-old twins were forced to participate in unending and demeaning medical experiments performed by Josef Mengele, widely known for his horrible cruelty.
After winding up in the hospital as a result of one of Mengele’s experiments, Eva made a decision: no matter what, she and her twin would survive the camp and be free once again.
The twins were freed from the camp in January 1945. In the years that ensued, they decided to try and find out what happened to the other twins that also survived. As reported by VICE, they were able to communicate with 122 surviving pairs of twins.
Eva and Miriam heard the stories of how the Holocaust affected the survivors’ lives and they wanted to impart the message that there is always hope, even when there is despair. In 1984, they founded CANDLES (Children of Auschwitz Nazi Deadly Lab Experiments Survivors).
After Miriam died in 1993, Eva continued her path of understanding and forgiveness. She wrote a letter, in which she forgave all of the Nazis.
She told VICE:
“I had the power to forgive. No one could give me the power, or take it away from me. I refused to be a victim, and now I am free.”
Soon after, her journey took an unexpected turn. She was contacted by Rainer Höss, the grandson of the former SS commander of Auschwitz.
Höss disowned his entire family after learning about the acts of his grandfather and has spoken out about the burden of his heritage.
Höss asked Eva to stand in as his adoptive grandmother, and in an act of utmost forgiveness, she accepted. This act is is symbolic of the message she delivers at her lectures:
“Never give up on yourself, never judge people on their heritage, and always forgive your worst enemy, as it’s the only way you’ll be able to set your soul free.”
The two now continue their path towards reconciliation together.
Eva’s strength and courage to make it out of Auschwitz, and her choice to forgive those who destroyed her family and subjected her to painful experimentation, are remarkable acts.
Additionally, Höss’ desire to right the wrongs of his heritage, and embrace those that were adversely affected, demonstrates one’s ability to overcome and stand up for what is right.