Eva Mozes Kor

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Eva Mozes Kor
Eva Mozes Kor in 2011
Born Eva Mozes
(1934-01-31) January 31, 1934 (age 80)
Porț, Romania
Residence Terre Haute, Indiana
Nationality  Romania
Other names Eva Kor
Citizenship  United States
Known for Founded CANDLES Holocaust Museum and Education Center and speaks nationally[1][2] and internationally on the topic of the Holocaust and Medical Ethics
Religion Judaism
Denomination Reform
Spouse(s) Michael Kor
Children Alex Kor, Rina Kor

Eva Mozes Kor is a survivor of the Holocaust who, with her twin sister Miriam, was subjected to human experimentation under Josef Mengele at Auschwitz. Both of her parents and two older sisters were killed at the camp; only she and Miriam survived.[3] In 1984 Kor founded the organization CANDLES (an acronym for "Children of Auschwitz Nazi Deadly Lab Experiments Survivors"), through which she located 122 other living Mengele twins, as the experiment survivors came to be known.[4]

Kor founded CANDLES Holocaust Museum and Education Center in 1995 to educate the public about eugenics, the Holocaust, and the power of forgiveness. Kor received international attention when she publicly forgave the Nazis for what had been done to her. This story was later explored in the documentary Forgiving Dr. Mengele.

Early life[edit]

Eva Mozes was born in 1934 in the tiny village of Porţ, Romania. Through the first four years of Eva's education, she and Miriam attended a one-room schoolhouse. Eva's father, Alexander and mother, Jaffa had four girls: Edit, Aliz, and the twins Eva and Miriam. Though the Mozes family enjoyed a comfortable living as landowners and farmers, the family lived under the spectre of the Nazi takeover of Germany and the everyday experience of prejudice against the Jews.[5]

When Eva and Miriam were six, their village was occupied by a Hungarian Nazi armed guard. The Mozes family was the only Jewish family in the village. In 1944, after four years' occupation, the family was transported to the regional ghetto in Şimleu Silvaniei. Just a few weeks later, they were packed into a cattle car and transported to the Auschwitz-Birkenau death camp.

After 70 hours without food or water, Eva and her family emerged onto the selection platform at Auschwitz.

Eva soon realized her father and two older sisters were gone. She never saw them again. Soon after, the girls were taken from their mother, whom they also never saw again. Eva and Miriam became part of a group of children used as human guinea pigs in genetic experiments under the direction of Dr. Josef Mengele.[6] Approximately 1500 sets of twins—3000 children—were subjected to these practices, and most died as a result of these experiments. Eva herself became deathly ill, but she lived and helped Miriam survive.

Approximately 180 children were found alive by the Soviet Army at the liberation of the camp on January 27, 1945.[7] The majority of the children were Mengele twins. Eva and Miriam Mozes were among them. They were in three different refugee camps over the next nine months before returning to live with their aunt in Cluj, Romania. Although free from Auschwitz, Eva struggled to feel free as Communists took over Romania.

Eva and Miriam emigrated 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 Mickey in the United States.

CANDLES Holocaust Museum and Education Center[edit]

In 1965, Eva became a US citizen, and the couple raised two children, Alex and Rina. In 1978, after NBC's miniseries The Holocaust aired, Eva began to wonder what had happened to the children after the liberation. Where had they gone? What had they done? How had the trauma of Auschwitz and the experiments affected their lives? These questions motivated her to search for surviving Auschwitz twins.

Eva enlisted the help of Miriam, who was still living in Israel. Together they began locating other survivors of Dr. Mengele's deadly experiments. In 1984, Eva founded CANDLES, Children of Auschwitz Nazi Deadly Lab Experiments Survivors, and named her sister Vice President for Israeli Survivors. Eva liked the acronym CANDLES because she wanted to shed some light on this hidden and dark chapter of the Holocaust. Miriam died in June 1993, after a battle with cancer.

Fifty years after the liberation of Auschwitz, Eva returned to the site and stood where so many were tragically murdered. At her side was Dr. Hans Münch,[8] a Nazi doctor who knew Dr. Mengele, but did not work with him in Auschwitz. Eva read Dr. Münch's signed witness statement to contradict those who denied the Holocaust. To the surprise of many, she then freed herself from her victim status and announced to the world that—in her name alone–she forgave the Nazis. An incredible weight of suffering was lifted and she felt strong. Offering her forgiveness healed Eva, but it did not mean she would forget or that it changed what happened.[4]

A photograph of the liberation of Auschwitz by Soviet troops in 1945. Eva and Miriam are shown holding hands in the very front.

Forgiving the Nazis drew mixed reactions and controversy. Throughout each subsequent conversation about forgiveness, Eva remained insistent that the act was for her well-being alone and not intended to dismiss the Holocaust. Eva's forgiveness was the catalyst that broadened CANDLES' focus to include peace on both a personal and societal level.

Over twenty-five years later, Eva remains an integral part of the CANDLES organization. Her lectures and guided tours are key elements of CANDLES' educational mission. Kor and the CANDLES organization have developed a wide circle of followers, including Hollywood personalities Ed Asner and Elliott Gould.[9] She has returned to Auschwitz on numerous occasions, often accompanied by friends and members of the community so that they can share what they have learned with their students and future generations. This pilgrimage now takes place each summer. In July 2014, Eva will guide a tour group through her Romanian homeland for the first time. It will be the first visit in over 10 years and only the third visit since the day of deportation in 1944.[10]

In 2007, Eva worked with state legislators Clyde Kersey and Tim Skinner to gain passage of an Indiana law requiring Holocaust education in secondary schools.[11] Now Eva and CANDLES are the leaders of a new statewide grassroots committee called IHELP, formed to provide resources and curricular support for Indiana educators who teach the Holocaust. In the summer of 2009, Eva taught a course at Indiana State University on the value and philosophy of overcoming adversity in life using the Holocaust as an example.


  • Echoes from Auschwitz: Dr. Mengele's Twins: The Story of Eva and Miriam Mozes (1995) with Mary Wright — ISBN 0-9643807-6-5
  • Surviving the Angel of Death: The Story of a Mengele Twin in Auschwitz (2009) with Lisa Rojany Buccieri — ISBN 1-933718-28-5
  • Little Eva & Miriam in First Grade (1994) Eva Mozes Kor - ISBN 0-9643807-6
  • Forgiving Dr. Mengele[12] (2006) First Run Features - Bob Hercules and Cheri Pugh


External links[edit]