When she was 10 years old, Eva Mozes, together with her twin sister, Miriam, was deported by the Nazis from Romania to Auschwitz. She was freed in 1945 by the Russian army, along with 200 other children who miraculously survived.
In the summer of 2013 in Auschwitz, Eva met a person who struck her for his “extreme intelligence.” It was Rainer Hess, grandson of the infamous camp commandant Rudolf Höss, who was hanged by the Allies in 1946 after the end of the Third Reich. Rainer had broken all relations with his family of origin in 1985, in order to dedicate himself to educating new generations about how to “recognize and defeat the evil of Nazism.”
“I Want to Adopt You”
One year after their meeting, Eva, now 80 years old, asked the grandson of her captor if he would accept being adopted by her. Rainer accepted. Eva also asked him to forgive his family, “because it’s the only way one can truly be emancipated from the evil of Hitler.”
A Woman of Mercy
Undoubtedly a woman of great mercy, Eva still remembers vividly the horrific moments she spent in Auschwitz. In the extermination camp, she and her twin sister ended up in the hands of the camp surgeon, Dr. Joseph Mengele, who was known as the “angel of death.” Mengele performed inhuman medical experiments on prisoners, especially on twins. The girls knew what awaited them: if one of them died, the other would be killed.
Five Injections a Week
“They gave me five injections a week,” Eva told a graduating class in Indiana, where she lived after the war. “Injections of every sort of infection and disease.” The twins’ survival was nothing short of a miracle. Once in Indiana, Eva Mozes Kor decided to devote herself to forgiving her captors “to put an end to being a victim.”
To keep the memory of the Holocaust alive, Eva and her twin sister founded CANDLES (Children of Auschwitz Nazi Deadly Lab Experiments Survivors), in an effort to locate other surviving Mengele twins. As a result of their efforts, Eva and Miriam were able to locate 122 individual Mengele twins living in ten countries on four continents. In 1995, they founded the CANDLES Holocaust Museum and Education Center in Terre Haute, Indiana.
Translation by Diane Montagnaof Aleteia’s English edition.