A video of a Holocaust survivor, in which she forgives the notorious Nazi doctor Josef Mengele for carrying out medical experiments on her and her twin sister at Auschwitz, has gone viral in recent weeks, garnering more than 120 million views.
Last month Eva Mozes Kor, 83, made a video entitled, “The Power to Live and Forgive,” produced by Buzzfeed, in which she describes her journey from a naked 10-year-old being experimented on by the ‘Angel of Death,’ to forgiving him.
Kor’s story of the strength she gained from granting forgiveness has been watched over 120 million times on Facebook since it was posted on September 27 and more than 3 million times on YouTube, where it was posted on September 15.
Kor describes how she and her twin sister, Miriam, were deported from Romania to Auschwitz in May 1944 along with the rest of their family.
As they waited at the entrance to the concentration camp, a Nazi walked along shouting “Twins, twins.” He asked Kor’s mother whether her two 10-year-old daughters were twins. “Is that good?” asked her mother. “Yes, it is good,” replied the Nazi. So her mother admitted that they were twins.
And that was the last Kor saw of her mother, who was taken away to be exterminated minutes after her father and older siblings had been murdered, all within half an hour of getting off the cattle car they arrived in.
“I was used in two types of experiments,” Kor says in the video. “Monday, Wednesday, Friday they would put me naked in a room with my twin sister and many other twins, up to eight hours a day. They would measure every part of my body, compare it to my twin sister and then compare charts.”
“On alternate days, Tuesday, Thursday, Saturday, they would take us to a blood lab. They would tie both of my arms to restrict the blood flow, take a lot of blood from my left arm and give me a minimum of five injections in the right arm. The content of those injections we didn’t know then, nor do we know today.
“After one of these injections, I became very ill with a very high fever,” she recounts. “My legs and arms were swollen and very painful. I was trembling as the August sun was burning my skin and I had huge red spots covering my body. The next visit to the blood lab they didn’t tie my arms. Instead, they measured my fever. And I was immediately taken to the hospital… Next morning, Mengele came in with four other doctors. He never ever examined me. He looked at my fever charts, and then declared, ‘Too bad. she’s so young. She only has two weeks to live.’”
For the next two weeks Kor relates that she couldn’t walk and she had to crawl through the barracks. But she was determined to survive.
She and her sister were liberated on January 12 1945, by the Russian army, but the two sisters were unable to speak about the atrocities they experienced at Auschwitz until 1985.
Eventually Miriam disclosed that during the two weeks that Mengele had left Eva to die, she was watched by a Nazi doctor 24 hours a day. After that, she was taken back to the blood lab and injected with more drugs.
In 1963, when Miriam was expecting her second child in Israel, doctors discovered the damage these injections had done to her kidneys. Despite receiving a kidney donated by her sister, she eventually died, most likely as a result of what she underwent in Auschwitz.
In August 1993, after a chain of events triggered by a Boston media station, Kor visited one of the Nazi doctors from Auschwitz, Dr. Hans Munch, in his home.
Munch wrote a single death certificate after each group was killed. However, he was known as “The Good Man of Auschwitz” for reportedly refusing to participate in the killings. He was the only person acquitted of war crimes at the 1947 Auschwitz trials in Kraków, where inmates testified in his favor.
Kor invited Munch to come with her to Auschwitz in 1995, on the 50th anniversary of the liberation, and to sign a document attesting to the gas chambers and the killing of the Jews. He agreed. The document, “Declaration of Amnesty,” was intended to serve as a rebuttal to all Holocaust deniers.
After meeting him, Kor wanted to thank Munch. After several months of thought, she decided to thank him with a letter of forgiveness.
“I wanted to thank this Nazi doctor. I didn’t know how to thank a Nazi,” she recalls in the video. “After 10 months, one morning I woke up. And the following simple idea popped into my head. How about a letter of forgiveness from me to Dr. Munch? I knew immediately he would like that and that it was a meaningful gift… But what I discovered for myself was life-changing. I discovered that I had the power to forgive. No one could give me that power and no one could take it away. It was all mine to use in any way I wished.”
The discovery that she had the power to forgive changed her life,” Kor says. After 50 years of being a victim, she suddenly realized that she had this tremendous power that nobody could take away from her.
It took her four months to write that letter. Once it was completed, someone suggested to her that she also forgive Mengele.
“I imagined Mengele was in the room with me,” she recounts. “I picked up a dictionary and wrote down 20 nasty words which I read clear and loud to that make-believe Mengele in the room. And at the end I said, ‘In spite of all that, I forgive you.’ Made me feel good.”
“I, the guinea pig of 50 years,” she notes, “even had the power over the Angel of Death of Auschwitz.”
Mengele died in 1979, when he drowned off the coast of the state of Sao Paulo, and was buried under a false name. The grave was discovered in 1985, and the bones were later identified by DNA testing and by his son Rolf Mengele’s testimony. He had been on the run for years, hiding while being pursued for performing experiments on inmates and sending thousands of them to the gas chambers during World War II.
Even though she was denounced for her act of forgiveness by other survivors of Mengele’s experiments, Kor says, “It is an act of self-healing, self-liberation, self-empowerment.”
“We cannot change what happened. But we can change how we relate to it.”