Eva Mozes Kor and her twin sister Miriam were born in Romania in 1934. Six years later, her village was occupied by Hungarian Nazis. Their entire family was taken to a Jewish ghetto at the beginning of 1944, and in May of that year they were shipped to Auschwitz.
When the family arrived at Auschwitz, a German officer demanded to know if Eva and Miriam were twins. When their ailing mother weakly answered yes, the girls were taken away.
“We were both crying, and my mother’s hands were spread in despair,” said Eva. “We never got to say goodbye. I had the best mother on the face of this Earth.”
Soon, Eva and Miriam were grouped together with other twin girls. They were undressed, had their heads shaved, and were taken away to be tattooed. Four people had to restrain Eva, who was only 10 years old, before they were able to mark her arm with “A-7063.”
For the rest of their time at Auschwitz, Eva and Miriam were experimented on six days a week. They were placed in an observation lab every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday, where they were undressed and examined for hours. The worst was always on Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Saturdays, when doctors would inject Eva with five large needles in her right arm while taking blood from her left. Eva never knew what was in the needles, but something in them landed her in hospital for weeks with a dangerously high fever that wouldn’t break. She miraculously recovered.
The Nazi doctors were very surprised because they were waiting for Eva to die. She remembers Dr. Josef Mengele — the SS “Angel of Death” — coming in to check on her and saying, “Too bad, she’s so young and only has two more weeks to live.” Their plan was that after Eva died, they’d kill Miriam afterwards so Dr. Mengele, the infamous Nazi experimentation doctor, could cross-examine their bodies.
Both sisters survived and were in the hospital on January 18, 1945, when the Germans released them and ordered all the prisoners to march away from the camp. Those who couldn’t were shot. A few days later, they were all freed.
Eva and Miriam were one of 200 sets of twins who survived. Originally there were 1,500 sets of Jewish twins selected for experimentation.
In 1978, Eva tried to find the other surviving twins. By 1984, both Eva and Miriam founded CANDLES (Children of Auschwitz Nazi Deadly Lab Experiments Survivors). their message was one of hope against despair.
Today, Eva is 80 years old and she believes deeply in forgiveness. She has informally adopted Rainer Höss—grandson of Rudolf, the SS commander of Auschwitz during the time she was imprisoned there — as her own grandson.
Eva met Höss after he sent her an email saying he wanted to meet and hug her. He also asked her to be his grandmother. On their first meeting last July at Auschwitz, Eva was immediately fascinated by Rainer, who had grown up around so much evil but had turned out to be a kind, intelligent and decent human being.
“I’m proud to be his grandmother,” Eva said. “I admire and love him. He had the need of love from a family he never had.”
Höss broke away from his birth family in 1985, and has told Eva that if his grandfather had a grave he would urinate on it. He doesn’t listen, but Eva still hopes that he will forgive his father and his grandfather. She understands that in order to be truly free, you have to forgive.