Setting the Record Straight on Auschwitz Survivor and the Grandson of Her Nazi Captor

courtesy of CANDLES Holocaust Museum and Education Center
Eva Mozes Kor

“Forgive your worst enemy. It will heal your soul and set you free.”

In December, we brought you the story of Eva Mozes Kor, the Auschwitz survivor who adopted the grandson of her Nazi captor.

As a young girl, 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 extermination camp, the twin girls 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.

But the sisters survived. And Eva, who later relocated to the United States, has devoted her life to promoting a message of forgiveness.

As a sign of forgiveness even to her Nazi captors, Eva “adopted” Rainer Höss, grandson of the infamous camp commandant Rudolf Höss, who was hanged by the Allies in 1946 after the end of the Third Reich.

The story of the adoption originally appeared in Aleteia’s Italian edition.

On Saturday, January 16, we spoke with Eva Mozes Kor, who wished to clarify reports regarding the nature, circumstances and status of the adoption. Mrs. Kor said:

  1. Contrary to media reports, Eva Kor met Rainer Höss on April 20-23, 2015, at Auschwitz.
  2. Also contrary to reports, Eva Kor never asked Rainer Höss if he would be willing for her to adopt him as her grandson. According to Mrs. Kor, it was Rainer who initiated the idea, as he had never had a loving grandmother. Eva Kor said what persuaded her to agree was Rainer’s break with his family, and his opposition to the neo-Nazi movement. “It wasn’t his fault he was born the grandson of Höss,” she told Aleteia. Mrs. Kor also clarified that a legal adoption never took place, but only a kind of “emotional” adoption.
  3. Although Mrs. Kor agreed to “adopt” Rainer as her grandson, she still had “concerns,” as she had known him only for a short time. Mrs. Kor informed Aleteia that her concerns were confirmed at a later meeting with Rainer. She has therefore terminated the “adoption.”

Despite the ending of the relationship, Mrs. Kor continues to promote forgiveness, even of one’s worst enemies. She told Aleteia: “I don’t want people to be trapped in hatred, pain and unforgiveness. Auschwitz is a most extreme example.”

“Forgive your worst enemy. It will heal your soul and it set you free.”

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