Lafayette

Mar 21, 2014 3:20 PM by Dave Fields

Holocaust survivor who forgives Nazis speaks at Thibodaux Academy

Holocaust survivor, Eva Mozes Kor, who endured the genetic experiments of Dr. Josef Mengele as well as Nazis death camps, told her story of forgiveness Thursday to the students of David Thibodaux STEM Magnet Academy.

The presentation, entitled "From Auschwtiz to Forgiveness", discussed her personal tale of strength and a message of self-healing through forgiveness, a message that Melany Youngblood, the English teacher who arranged Kor's appearance, said is invaluable for her students.

"I forgive all Nazis," Kor says.

During the 2013-14 school year, Youngblood's students read Night, a novel by Holocaust survivor, Elie Wiesel, and then watched Kor's documentary, "Forgiving Dr. Mengele". During the presentation, Kor emphasized forgiveness, even forgiveness of those guilty of such heinous atrocities as those perpetrated by the Nazis. Kor stressed the benefits of healing oneself by moving past the hatred and indifference of others.

Kor's message was significant enough to school administration that a school-wide assembly was convened so that Kor could impart her survival story to the entire student body at Thibodaux Academy.

Born in a small village in Romania in 1934, Kor's recollection of her formative years in a one-room schoolhouse and her family's initially happy existence in the village of Port changed for the worse when the Nazis occupied nearby Germany. In 1944, Kor's family, composed was uprooted, sent to a regional ghetto, and then packed into a cattle car bound for Nazis concentration camps.

Kor's family found themselves atop the platform at Auschwitz, even after enduring the previous 70 hours without food or water. Kor and her twin sister, two of the family's four girls, then were separated from the rest of their family, never to see them again.

On their own, Eva and her sister Miriam were forced to undergo genetic experimentation in which Mengele used massive groups of children, particularly twins, as human guinea pigs. Despite becoming deathly ill, she persevered, along with her sister, until the Soviet army liberated the 180 surviving kids in 1945.

And still, Kor, who emigrated to Israel and married a Holocaust survivor, harbors no ill will toward the Nazis.

If Kor can look beyond the hatred and indifference of those who wronged her and her family, then there's a lesson in there for all of us.

"I felt as though an incredibly heavy weight of suffering had been lifted. I never thought I could be so strong. What the victims do does not change what happened. But every victim has the right to heal themselves as well as they can. And the best thing about the remedy of forgiveness is that there are no side effects. And everybody can afford it," says Kor.

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