Eva Kor: The Holocaust survivor who forgave the Nazis | BBC Ideas

Eva Kor: The Holocaust survivor who forgave the Nazis | BBC Ideas


One day, in 1944, my family
and I were arrested. Packed into cattle trains
with no food or water. We were taken to Poland and left on
the selection platform in Auschwitz. A Nazi guard spotted me and
my identical twin sister Miriam clinging to my mother. He tore us from my mother’s arms
and led us away. I remember looking back at my mother. I did not know at that time,
but I would never see her again. On the filthy floor,
there were scattered corpses of three little girls. Their bodies were naked
and their eyes were wide open. It was a horrifying look. I had never seen anybody dead before. So that hit me very, very hard and
I made a silent pledge that I will do whatever is within my power
to make sure that Miriam and I will not end up
on that latrine floor. And that we somehow will survive,
and walk out of this camp alive. We were naked for hours, and every part of our bodies
was measured. It was horrible and humiliating. Too bad, she’s so young,
she has only two weeks to live. I knew he was right,
but I refused to die. If I died, Miriam would have
been given a lethal injection so he could cut open
both of our bodies and compare the autopsies. For the following two weeks,
I was between life and death. And all I remember,
crawling on the barrack floor because I no longer could walk. And as I was crawling, I would fade
in and out of consciousness and I kept telling myself,
‘I must survive, I must survive’. Nine months later, we returned home. Only to find that nobody else
from our family survived. To find only three crumpled pictures. And that was all
that was left of my family. In 1987, I donated one
of my kidneys to save her, but she died in 1993. And I was devastated.
She was… the only one from the family
who was alive. I was angry. I was heading to Germany
to meet a Nazi doctor, I was unbelievably nervous,
and scared. Dr Münch at the time
was 82 years old. He greeted me with kindness,
respect and consideration. I was blown away,
a Nazi treating me with respect. Dr Hans Münch was a bacteriologist
at Auschwitz, but he also had a secondary job that he was stationed
outside the gas chambers. And when people were dead,
he would sign one death certificate, no names, just the number of people
who were murdered. And he said to me, ‘This is my problem, this is
a nightmare that I live with.’ I asked him if he was willing
to go with me to Auschwitz and make the same statement
that he made to me, and he said he would love to. I knew that was a crazy idea,
to thank a Nazi, a survivor of Auschwitz
to thank a Nazi. People would think that
I have lost my mind. I tried to figure out
how to thank him and after 10 months,
a simple idea popped into my head. How about a letter of forgiveness
from me, the survivor of Auschwitz? I knew that that was a meaningful
gift for him, but what I discovered for myself was life-changing. That I had the power to forgive. No-one could give me that power,
no-one could take it away. To challenge myself, I decided
I could even forgive Mengele. The person who had
put me through hell. It wasn’t easy,
but I felt an enormous weight had been lifted from me. I finally felt free. Who decided that I as a victim
must be, for the rest of my life, sad, angry, feel hopeless
and helpless? I refuse it. You can never change
what happened in the past, all you can do
is change how you react to it. My sister and I were made
into human guinea pigs, our whole family was murdered. But I have the power to forgive,
and so do you. Thanks for watching. Don’t forget to subscribe and click the bell to receive notifications for new videos. See you again soon!

8 thoughts on “Eva Kor: The Holocaust survivor who forgave the Nazis | BBC Ideas

  1. “May we never forget.” This is something that we say on Remembrance Day for the fallen soldiers. Now, I say it for the innocents, either the citizens caught in the crossfire of WW1, or the victims of the concentration camps in WW2, or even the victims of discrimination in modern times. To them I say “May we never forget.”

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