Opinion » Note

Talking Forgiveness with Holocaust Survivor Eva Mozes Kor

Funny and chilling at the same time


For this week's edition of Boise Weekly, I was grateful for the opportunity to write about Eva Mozes Kor, an 81-year-old Holocaust survivor who travels the world talking not about the evils of Nazism but the power of forgiveness.

Kor was in Boise on Sept. 18 for the 12th Annual Change Your World Celebration at the Grove Hotel, where she received the 2015 Anne Frank Change the World Award from the Wassmuth Center for Human Rights. Attending a reception prior to the night's events—which included fundraising for an expanded outdoor classroom at the Idaho Anne Frank Human Rights Memorial—Kor was generous in giving some of her time to talk with BW staff writer Harrison Berry and me.

"They have honored me before with the idea that I am somehow turning the world around—a victorious person, a victorious survivor," she said. "There is a lot of pain. There is a lot of reason to be angry."

Kor should know. Not only did she survive Auschwitz—liberated by the Red Army when she was only 11 years old—but she and her twin sister, Miriam, were among those subjected to genetic experiments performed by notorious Nazi Dr. Josef Mengele.

Her lecture is covered on Page 19, but some of what she shared earlier in the evening didn't make it into the official presentation.

Specifically, she talked about the pushback she receives from some fellow survivors who feel her campaign of forgiveness is a betrayal of their suffering.

"Seventy years later, they are still victims. They are angry, they have no joy," Kor said. "That is the most tragic thing to me. ... Your anger destroys you."

While Kor's words were directed at the Holocaust, they are ever-more relevant seven decades after the fall of the Third Reich.

"Every unhealed victim is a potential perpetrator," she said.

Still, despite her tireless work as a forgiveness advocate, Kor has no illusions about the state of the world. Asked if she thought humanity had progressed in empathy since the abyss of Nazism, her answer was simple as it was chilling: "No."