Holocaust survivor forgives captors and informally adopts Nazi grandson

Eva Mozes Kor is a Holocaust survivor who is now 80 years old and lives in Indiana in the US. She is a campaigner for Holocaust victims and travels around the US telling her story of survival. Now she has even informally adopted the grandson of the Nazi commander who killed her family during World War Two.

At the age of just ten, Eva, her twin sister Miriam, two older sisters Edit and Aliz, and her mother and father were captured by the Nazis and taken from their home in Romania in 1944. They were loaded onto cattle trucks and transported all the way to the Auschwitz concentration camp, along with thousands of other families.

When they arrived there was lots of yelling and confusion, as Eva’s father and older sisters got lost in the crowd. The twins held onto their mother in desperation, when aNazi officer checked with their mother if they were twins. When she said yes, Eva and Miriam were immediately dragged away from the main crowd. The twins and their mother were crying and yelling and Eva remembers her mother’s arms spread open wide in despair to get her children back. But they were never to see any of their family again.

Eva and Miriam were taken to a separate building where they proceeded to live as ‘live’ experiments for the remainder of the war. They were stripped naked, examined, poked and prodded on a regular basis, led by the ‘Angel of Death’ Josef Mengele, the Nazi commander in charge of the experiments.

Josef Mengele and the Nazi regime were interested in twins’ genetics. They would conduct experiments to see how the sets of twins reacted, for example infecting them with a disease and seeing if they would survive. If only one survived, the other would be killed for post-mortem investigation.

Eva was infected with a disease and was seriously ill, but she survived along with Miriam. They both left the camp along with 1500 other survivors when it was liberated in 1945 by the Red Army.

Seventy years later, Eva is full of forgiveness and has even informally ‘adopted’ the grandson of SS commander, Rudolf Hoess.

Rudolf Hoess was responsible for more than one million deaths at Auschwitz. Rainer Hoess, his 49 year old grandson, has denounced his grandfather and abandoned his family, saying that he cannot live with the atrocities that his grandfather took part in nor his family advocating his actions.

Rainer’s family see him as a traitor for abandoning them. None of them have talked publicly about what Rudolf Hoess did. Rainer says that growing up he was made to idolise his grandfather and no one could dispute his actions or involvement with the Nazi regime.

Rudolf Hoess was captured by the Allied forces in 1946 and sent to the Nuremburg trials to be charged with war crimes. He was sentenced to hanging and was executed in 1947, the Mail Online reports.

Eva and Rainer now travel around the US and world to share her awful experience and spread the message that she forgives those who tortured her and killed her family. She says that Rainer deserves a family and she has given him one to belong to. The two connected, after Rainer emailed Eva to tell her of his disgust at what his grandfather had done during the war.

The pair says they have a unique connection and emotional understanding.

Eva’s book, ‘Surviving The Angel Of Death’, is her story of living through Auschwitz and outlines how and why she has come to forgive her captors. Eva is now an advocate for forgiveness, since she says it has set her free from her past. She encourages everyone she meets to embrace forgiveness and has even taken to Twitter to spread her message.

Unfortunately, Miriam her twin died in 1995 from kidney cancer, but before she did the pair set up a charity to ensure their story would continue to be told. The charity is called Candles, which stands for Children of Auschwitz Nazi Deadly Lab Experiments Survivors.

In her travels, Eva regularly goes back to visit Auschwitz to take part in the annual memorials and ceremonies for those who died and suffered there.

Ian Harvey

Ian Harvey is one of the authors writing for WAR HISTORY ONLINE