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The Auschwitz Survivor Who Adopted the Grandson of Her Nazi Captor



Rainer Hoess, the grandson of Rudolf Hoess, the Nazi commandant of the Auschwitz concentration and extermination camp shows the picture on the cover of his book "The Legacy of the Commandant" on April 30, 2014 in Stockholm. Rainer Hoess came to Stockholm to support a campaign against right extremism by the Swedish Social Democratic Youth League called ÒNever Forget. To VoteÓ ahead of the European election. AFP PHOTO/JONATHAN NACKSTRAND / AFP / JONATHAN NACKSTRAND

Gelsomino Del Guercio - published on 12/23/15

Eva Mozes told Rainer Höss, grandson of the infamous camp commander Rudolf Höss, that he too must forgive his family

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.

Meeting Rainer

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.”

Eva Mozes Kor
courtesy of CANDLES Holocaust Museum and Education Center
Eva Mozes Kor

“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.

Eva and Miriam Mozes

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.

Practicing MercyWorld War II
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