Imagine, in the black-and-white newsreel footage of your mind, a scared little ten-year-old Romanian girl lying in a sick bay in Auschwitz, having suffered the crutel indignity of being treated as little more than a lab animal by the infamous Dr. Josef Mengele, who had injected her with a lethal cocktail of bacteria. A doctor glances at the girl’s medical chart and brusquely tells her she has two weeks to live.
Fast-forward 63 years. Through the magic of e-mail, I am able to reach through the mists of history and contact that little girl. Eva Kor e-mails me back to tell me that, yes, what I had written about her was accurate.
Her stunning act of forgiveness still takes my breath away.
On January 27, 1995, in a public ceremony marking the fiftieth anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz by the Soviets, Eva Kor forgave the Nazis who murdered her parents and two older sisters. Standing by the ruins of a gas chamber at the infamous death camp, she also forgave Josef Mengele, the Nazi doctor who used Kor and her twin sister Miriam as guinea pigs for genetic experiments.
Kor’s forgiveness allowed her to release the heartache and hatred she had been carrying for five decades. She said, “I read my document of forgiveness and signed it. I immediately felt the pain lift from my shoulders. Finally, I was no longer a prisoner of Auschwitz. I was finally free. So I say to everybody, ‘Forgive your worst enemy. It will heal your soul and set you free.’”
Later that year, Kor opened the CANDLES Holocaust Museum in Terre Haute, Indiana. (CANDLES is an acronym for Children of Auschwitz Nazi Deadly Lab Experiments Survivors.) In 2003, the museum was burned to the ground by a fire that was deliberately set. Kor forgave the arsonist and rebuilt the museum. She said, ““For most people there is a big obstacle to forgiveness because society expects revenge. Forgiveness is nothing more and nothing less than an act of self-healing, an act of self-empowerment. I call it a miracle medicine. It’s free, it works, and it has no side effects.”
As Eva Kor learned, forgiveness does not mean that you condone what was done to you or that you are absolving the perpetrator of responsibility for his or her actions. How deserving your antagonist is of your forgiveness is irrelevant.
Forgiveness is a gift to yourself. You cannot know real peace without it. Until you release your resentments, the external world will always remain a threat.
Eva Kor captured the true meaning of forgiveness, of release, when she said, “Forgiveness means to me that whatever was done to me is no longer causing me such pain that I cannot be the person I want to be.”
Forgiveness is another word for love. It is about choosing to love when love seems like an impossible choice to make.
Click here to donate to Eva Kor’s CANDLES Holocaust Museum.
Click here to read Chris Doyle’s review of Eva’s book, Echoes from Auschwitz: Dr. Mengele’s Twins, The Story of Eva and Miriam Mozes.
Click here to view all my posts about Eva Kor as well as posts about other concentration camp survivors.
HERE ARE MY FORGIVENESS-RELATED POSTS:
ABOUT PHIL BOLSTA
Phil is the author of Through God’s Eyes: Finding Peace and Purpose in a Troubled World, a comprehensive guide to living a spiritual life. Who will benefit from reading it?
Anyone who is on a spiritual path, or wants to start one
Anyone who loves life, or wants to learn how to
Anyone who is happy, or wants to be happier
Here is a two-minute video introduction to Through God’s Eyes.
• an overview of the book
• the complete table of contents
• the Foreword by Caroline Myss
• my Introduction
• chapter excerpts
• a sample end-of-chapter story
• endorsements from authors and thought leaders
Just click on the link below to download your free PDF sampler!
THROUGH GOD’S EYES PDF SAMPLER
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Phil is also the author of Sixty Seconds: One Moment Changes Everything, a collection of 45 inspiring, life-changing stories from prominent people he interviewed, including Joan Borysenko, Deepak Chopra, geneticist Dr. Francis Collins, acclaimed sportswriter Frank Deford, Dr. Larry Dossey, Wayne Dyer, Dan Millman, Caroline Myss, Dr. Christiane Northrup, Dr. Dean Ornish, Dr. Rachel Naomi Remen, Dr. Bernie Siegel, James Van Praagh, singer Billy Vera, Doreen Virtue, Neale Donald Walsch, and bassist Victor Wooten.
Reading this book is like spending a few minutes face to face with each of the contributors and listening to their personal stories. Click here to read unsolicited testimonials from readers. Learn more by visiting the official Sixty Seconds website.
Sixty Seconds was one of three finalists in the General Interest/How-To category at the 12th annual Visionary Awards presented by COVR (Coalition of Visionary Resources) in Denver on June 27, 2009.