Forgiving Dr. Mengele
Forgiving Dr. Mengele is a documentary film about Eva Mozes Kor, a victim of the Holocaust and her decision to forgive the Nazis who killed her family and in particular Dr. Josef Mengele and his staff, who experimented on her and her twin sister Miriam Mozes, as well as approximately 1,400 other twin pairs.
The documentary was directed by Bob Hercules and Cheri Pugh, who also served as producers. They followed Eva for over four years, chronicling her story and her journey to Israel. Her decision to forgive the Nazis has been met with incredulity and hostility by some, particularly other Holocaust survivors, and these views are portrayed as well.
Forgiving Dr. Mengele premiered at the Gene Siskel Film Center in Chicago, Illinois, on February 24, 2006. It was scheduled to play for a week, and then travel to other cities in the US. The film is distributed by First Run Features, which handles independent films and documentaries.
Biographical information on Eva
Eva Mozes Kor and her sister Miriam were born on Jan. 30, 1934 in northern Transylvania Portz, Romania. In 1944, Nazis transported her immediate family to Auschwitz-Birkenau. Because Eva and Miriam were twins, Dr. Mengele selected them to remain alive for experiments. The rest of their family were never heard of again and are believed to have been murdered in the gas chambers.
After a 70-hour ride without food or water, Eva and Miriam, along with their mother, arrived at the selection platform. Eva gripped her mother's hand and looked around: her father and her two older sisters were nowhere in sight. She never saw them again. Soon the twin girls were ripped from their mother, whom they also never saw again.
Eva later recalled how she and her family arrived at the Auschwitz railhead:
- 'When the doors to our cattle car opened, I heard SS soldiers yelling, "Schnell! Schnell!" (Quick!), and ordering everybody out. My mother grabbed Miriam and me by the hand. She was always trying to protect us because we were the youngest. Everything was moving very fast, and as I looked around, I noticed my father and my two older sisters were gone. As I clutched my mother's hand, an SS man hurried by shouting, "Twins! Twins!" He stopped to look at us. Miriam and I looked very much alike. "Are they twins?" he asked my mother. "Is that good?" she replied. He nodded yes. "They are twins," she said ...
- Once the SS guard knew we were twins, Miriam and I were taken away from our mother, without any warning or explanation. Our screams fell on deaf ears. I remember looking back and seeing my mother's arms stretched out in despair as we were led away by a soldier. That was the last time I saw her..."
Eva and Miriam remained in Auschwitz for nine months, enduring experimentation such as being injected with potentially lethal strains of bacteria (and not given treatment). After World War II, they went to Romania and then immigrated to Israel. Eva served in the Israeli Army for ten years. After meeting a tourist who was a Holocaust survivor living in the United States, the two were married, and she moved to the US. In Terre Haute, Indiana, they raised a family and she became a successful realtor and created the C.A.N.D.L.E.S. Museum (Children of Auschwitz Nazi Deadly Lab Experiment Survivors). The museum is dedicated to education about the Holocaust and operates under the mission to "eliminate hatred and prejudice from our world." Her husband, Michael, is a pharmacist, and her son, Alex, is active in the museum and education. He has made trips to Auschwitz on his mother's behalf and has documented these experiences.
In 1993, Eva Mozes Kor met with Doctor Hans Münch, a Nazi doctor at Auschwitz who was acquitted of war crimes at the Kraków War Crimes Trial in 1947. After this meeting, which she recorded on video, she wrote Dr. Münch a letter of forgiveness. They met again in 1995 at Auschwitz, where Dr. Münch signed a documentation of the gas chambers, and Kor issued a declaration of amnesty and forgiveness to all Nazis. Her forgiveness caused much anger from many survivors. Eva Kor has made speeches about forgiveness across the country, as well as at her museum, to school groups and organizations. She is featured in The Forgiveness Project.