Lessons from the Holocaust: Founder of Auschwitz survivors group is keynote speaker for remembrance event.
SOUTH BEND — Eva Mozes Kor mixed drama and humor in a spellbinding lecture at Indiana University South Bend on Tuesday night as the keynote speaker for the area’s 2004 Holocaust Days of Remembrance.
The founder of the CANDLES Museum in Terre Haute, Ind., Kor re-created scenes from her captivity as a child at the Nazi concentration camp Auschwitz and imparted the lessons she has learned from that experience in the 59 years since she was liberated.
“We were born Jewish, and we did not understand why that was a crime,” she said.
As a child, Kor experienced anti-Semitism at the hands of townspeople and, later, Nazis during the occupation of Portz. Each time, she said, she seethed with anger, but her parents told her to do nothing in response.
” ‘You have to learn we are Jewish, and you have to learn to take it,’ ” she said her mother told her when she was 6 years old. “I hated those words. I hated the helpless feeling. I just couldn’t take it.”
At Auschwitz, however, she resisted, by kicking and screaming at the SS officer who tattooed her. It took four adults, Kor said, to restrain her. Later, Miriam told her she had bitten him, as well, which Kor said she didn’t remember doing.
Kor figured out that by volunteering to carry food to the prisoners at mealtime, she would have access to the kitchen and be able to steal — organize in the language of the camp — food for herself and Miriam. She and Miriam ate potatoes three or four times a week, she said.
Although she remembers few details about the experiments conducted on her and her sister, Kor said she was used in one experiment designed to determine how much blood a person could lose before dying.
When she learned in 1946 that the soap used at Auschwitz had been made from human fat, Kor said, she had nightmares for a long time afterward.
“I feared that I’d washed with soap made out of my own parents and sisters,” she said.
By ANDREW S. HUGHES
Tribune Staff Writer
April 21, 2004
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