Holocaust survivor Eva Mozes Kor, who emerged from a trauma-filled childhood to become a brilliant example of the human spirit’s power to overcome, will open Butler University’s 2015–2016 Celebration of Diversity Distinguished Lecture Series on October 22 at 7:30 PM in Clowes Memorial Hall.
Born in 1934 in Portz, Romania, Kor and her twin sister, Miriam, were 6 when their village was occupied by a Hungarian Nazi armed guard. In 1944, the family was transported to a regional ghetto, then packed into a cattle car and transported to the Auschwitz death camp. There, Eva and Miriam were subjected to experiments by Nazi Dr. Josef Mengele.
Estimates are that 1,500 sets of twins—3,000 children—were abused, and most died, as a result of Mengele’s experiments. Eva herself became deathly ill, but through sheer determination, she stayed alive and helped Miriam survive.
When the camp was liberated on January 27, 1945, approximately 200 children were found alive, including Eva and Miriam Mozes. They returned to Romania to live with their aunt, then immigrated to Israel in 1950. Over the next 10 years, Eva received a good education from an agricultural school, and went on to attain the rank of Sergeant Major in the Israeli Army Engineering Corps. She met Michael Kor, a Holocaust survivor and American tourist. In 1960, the couple was married in Tel Aviv, and Eva joined her husband in Terre Haute, Indiana.
Eva became a U.S. citizen in 1965, and the couple raised two children, Alex (a 1983 Butler graduate) and Rina. In 1984, Eva founded CANDLES (Children of Auschwitz Nazi Deadly Lab Experiments Survivors), a name she chose because she wanted to shed light on this dark chapter of the Holocaust.
Eleven years later, she opened the CANDLES Holocaust Museum and Education Center in Terre Haute. Thousands of people, mostly school-aged children, have visited the center since then.
“Eva Kor’s life is one of the greatest examples of what we mean when we talk about ‘the triumph of the human spirit,’ ” Butler University President James M. Danko said. “In living an inspiring life powered by what she calls a ‘never-give-up attitude,’ she has served as a champion of human rights, a tireless educator, and a community leader.”
Kor was the speaker at Butler’s spring 2015 Commencement. In her talk, she advised graduates to never give up on themselves or their dreams. She said one of the great lessons of her life was learning to forgive the Nazis as well as “everyone who every hurt me.”