Sarah Stultz: A powerful lesson on importance of forgiveness

Published 7:19 pm Monday, July 8, 2019

Nose for News by Sarah Stultz


I came across a video with Eva Kor several months ago. Kor is a a Romanian survivor of the Holocaust, who endured human experiments in the concentration camp in Auschwitz with her twin sister before the camp was liberated in 1945.

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If you’ve ever heard of Kor, you’re likely not to forget her story.

Kor, her twin sister, Miriam, her parents and two other sisters were taken to Auschwitz in 1944. When they arrived at the camp, she and Miriam were taken one way, while the rest of  her family was taken another — ultimately to the gas chambers where they were killed.

In the nine months that followed, the twin sisters were the subject of inhumane medical experimentation by Nazi doctor Josef Mengela.

She said she made a silent pledge the first night she was at the camp that she was going to do everything in her power to make sure she and her sister walked out of that camp alive.

In 1945, the Soviet army liberated the camp, and she and her sister were freed. They moved to Romania to live with their aunt and then moved to Israel, where they both served in the army.

Kor eventually moved to the United States and founded the nonprofit organization CANDLES (Children of Auschwitz Nazi Deadly Lab Experiments Survivors), seeking to educate about the atrocities of the Holocaust and to share a message of overcoming tragedy.

Despite the lifelong effects both she and her sister experienced because of their time in Auschwitz, she wrote a letter to one of the doctors who played a role in the horrors of Auschwitz, telling him that she forgave him for what he had done. She said doing so freed her from the horrors of her past and allowed her to finally move forward with her life. 

“The moment I forgave the Nazis, I felt freed from Auschwitz and from all the tragedy that had occurred to me,” she said in a video for the Auschwitz museum.

In an interview with the Indianapolis Star in 2017, she talked about the power of forgiveness.

“What I tell everybody is that you — any victim, any person hurt — you have the same power. You have the power to forgive. And what it does, forgiveness, has nothing to do with the perpetrator. It has everything to do with the way the victim feels.”

Kor made an annual educational trip back to Auschwitz as part of the CANDLES Museum and died this week while there from natural causes.

As I read more about her life and remember the video I had seen of her in the past, I can’t help but wonder whether I would be able to do the same thing if I were in her shoes?

Kor was an inspiration to thousands of the power of forgiveness and of how we can take an experience that is so devastating and horrific and turn it into something that teaches valuable lessons.

We each have the capability of making the community and the place around us a better place.

I’m blessed to have come across the story of this remarkable woman.

Sarah Stultz is the managing editor of the Tribune. Her column appears every Tuesday.