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The Unexpected Legacy I Encountered At Auschwitz

January 10, 2022
Caroline Burk

A few months ago, I was able to travel to Poland and visit Auschwitz for a day.

I knew this experience would be heavy, surreal, and one I could never forget.

I took the hour long drive from Kraków to southern Poland where the Auschwitz-Birkenau Memorial and Museum is located, all the while trying to mentally prepare myself for what I was about to see. I had learned about the Holocaust throughout my entire academic career, but it didn’t truly hit me that I was about to come face-to-face with the place where such unthinkable evil had occurred.

When we arrived, we were guided through two of the camps, which we learned were called Auschwitz I and Birkenau (Auschwitz II).

As the tour progressed, feelings of my group varied. Some people were in shock. Some were deeply saddened. Others were stirred to anger as we were led through the halls and rooms where so many innocent people perished. All of these feelings are valid and expected when visiting a place like this.

One feeling that no one saw coming was that of forgiveness. But that’s exactly what we each encountered when our guide told us about Eva Mozes Kor.

At just 10 years old, Eva and her twin sister Miriam were brought to Auschwitz where Doctor Josef Mengele performed inhumane and torturous medical experiments on them and so many others. We were given just a glimpse into what the twin girls endured and survived while at the camp. However, what shocked the group even more than the tragedy we heard about was Eva’s legacy of forgiveness.

The segment of the tour that stands out above all the rest is when our guide paused the group in front of a picture of Eva and Mirium as they were being liberated from the concentration camp on January 27, 1945. As we stood there and stared at the faces of two girls who had been through so much, we were told how Eva used to return to Auschwitz often to lead tours, share her story, and also just simply to sit in front of the very picture we were looking at.

Many of us asked and wondered why she would ever want to return to a place that held such dark memories for her, but our wonderings were met with a simple answer. You guessed it…Forgiveness.

“The moment I forgave the Nazis, I felt free from Auschwitz and from all the tragedy that had occurred to me,” Eva shared in a video on the Auschwitz Museum’s Facebook page.

Eva Mozes Kor had forgiven those who caused her unimaginable hurt and she returned over 30 times throughout her life to share her story on the power of forgiveness.

Learning about Eva and her story is the topic the group couldn’t stop discussing throughout the day, and it’s the moment I remember most from my visit.

Fast forward a few months after my trip, I saw a familiar last name and picture on an episode of the Your Day Brighter® Podcast with Tracey Tiernan.

Turns out, Tracey had the privilege of interviewing Alex Kor, Eva Mozes Kor’s son, about his mother’s amazing story and lasting work. He also discussed what it was like being the child of two Holocaust survivors and the cost of forgiveness.

This episode is powerful and as you listen, you’ll be in awe of Eva just like I was and still am…Check out the entire episode below and learn more about the incredible life and lasting legacy of Eva Mozes Kor.


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