Eva Kor, one of the remaining survivors of Auschwitz, took the stand on Wednesday during the trial of Nazi Oskar Groening, who stands accused as an accessory to the murder of 300,000 people interred at the Nazi death camp.
Kor began with a statement that explained that she had lost a total of 119 relatives, and how she and her twin sister, Miriam, at the age of 10, were torn away from their family within moments of arriving at Auschwitz.
“We were huddled in our filthy bunk beds, crawling with lice and rats, we were starved for food, starved for human kindness, and starved for the love of the mothers and fathers we once had.”
And then, Kor explained, the experiments began. Twins were of especial interest to the infamous Josef Mengele, and subjected to horrific experiments under his directive at Auschwitz.
“Did you know Josef Mengele?” Eva Kor asked Groening. “Did you hear about his experiments?”
Court rules would not allow Groening, who remained impassive throughout Kor’s powerful testimony, to answer.
In an interview with Time magazine, detailing what it was like to survive Auschwitz, Kor focused upon Mengele’s particular obsession with twins and the experiments performed on them. “Auschwitz was the laboratory for any experiments any Nazi scientists wanted to do. There was no limit on what doctors and researchers could do at these camps. So it was open season on twins and other human guinea pigs like us,” Eva said in the interview.
Mengele’s experimentation schedule was strict. Kor detailed it during her time on the stand at Groening’s trial.
“On alternate days — Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Saturdays — we were brought to a lab, which I call the blood lab,” Eva, who is now 81 years of age, recalled. “They took blood from my left arm and gave me at least five injections into my right arm. Those were the deadly ones.”
Kor also recounted the time that Mengele took a look at her medical charts and began to laugh, saying, “Too bad she’s so young. She has only two weeks to live.”
But Eva Kor, who was young Eva Moses during her time at Auschwitz, said that although she knew the Nazi was right, she possessed “fierce determination to live one more day, to survive one more experiment.”
Eva once recounted the moment she realized she and her twin would need to fight to survive.
“The first time I went to use the latrine located at the end of the children’s barrack, I was greeted by the scattered corpses of several children lying on the ground. I think that image will stay with me forever. It was there that I made a silent pledge — a vow to make sure that Miriam and I didn’t end up on that filthy floor.”
And she did survive. So did her sister Miriam. But they were the only two in their family that did survive Auschwitz.
Along with her fierce desire to survive, Kor revealed that she has, along with her reserves of strength and tenacity, an ability to forgive. For Kor, however, forgiving had nothing at all to do with the Nazis and everything to do with her will to live.
“My forgiveness has nothing to do with the perpetrators. It is an act of self-healing, self-liberation, and self-empowerment. My forgiveness does not absolve the perpetrators from taking responsibility for their actions, nor does it diminish my need and right to ask questions about what happened at Auschwitz.”
She also asked Groening directly, “How do you feel about my forgiving you and all the Nazis for what was done to me?” Again, court rules prevented Groening from answering.
As CBS reports, Oskar Groening, now 93 years of age, never killed anyone himself. He was a member of Adolf Hitler’s paramilitary organization — the SS — and had been assigned to Auschwitz, where he, as the death camp’s so-called “accountant,” stripped victims of their money and valuables as they entered the camp. Groening was not personally involved in the decisions of which victims would live or die, either — he refers to himself as a mere “cog in the machine.”
But those who have pushed for this trial, including the retired German judge Thomas Walther, say in return that without cogs, a machine wouldn’t run.
In the past, Walther says, the judicial system in Germany has charged only those Nazis directly involved in the genocide that took place during World War II, but many now believe that charging only those who actually killed is much too lenient. Walther calls it a “failure of the German justice system.”
Josef Mengele, who became known as the Angel of Death, escaped Germany to South America after the war, where he managed to evade capture until his death in 1979.
Eva and her twin sister, Miriam, went on to live in Israel, and both served in the Israeli Army. Eva studied drafting, and Miriam became a nurse. In 1960, Eva married an American tourist, Michael Kor, who was also a concentration camp survivor. She came with him to the United States.
More survivors of Auschwitz are expected to give testimony against Groening as his trial progresses. Groening has never denied his role at Auschwitz, but continues to deny personal guilt in any of the 300,000 deaths that occurred during his time at the Nazi death camp. An in-depth report on Groening and his trial can be found here.
[Featured Photo by Ian Gavan / Getty Images, image via Quoracdn.net]