It’s wonderful having the University of Arkansas – Fort Smith around, particularly because of the terrific roster of speakers, performers, shows, exhibits, concerts and special events they bring to our community. Tomorrow, Feb. 21 is no exception, as one of the world’s most renowned survivors of the Holocaust comes to Fort Smith to share her story and insights.
Holocaust survivor Eva Kor is known the world over as a speaker and forgiveness activist. UAFS is bringing Kor to Fort Smith for an event in conjunction with the College of Languages and Communication’s ReadThis! program. Kor will be available to sign her books after she speaks. The event will be held on the university campus at 5 p.m. in Breedlove Auditorium, 5210 Grand Avenue.
Here’s the short version of her story (reading this in no way takes away from hearing the longer version from Kor herself): Born in Romania in 1935, Eva and her twin sister, Miriam, were only six years old when they were taken with their family to the Nazi death camp at Auschwitz. At the camp Eva and Miriam were subjected to Joseph Mengele’s now-infamous genetic experiments. Their parents and two older sisters were killed. Kor herself had been close to death.
The two survived by shear will and determination and were found with 200 other children when the camp was liberated in 1945. Mengele and the Nazi doctors had murdered nearly 1,500 sets of twins in their experiments, and Eva Kor herself had been close to death. After liberation, she still felt oppressed under the Communists and finally immigrated to Israel, where she met the American tourist, also a survivor of the holocaust, who would become her husband and bring her to America.
In 1984, Kor founded “Children of Auschwitz Nazi Deadly Lab Experiments Survivors,” CANDLES, through which she located 122 other living “Mengele twins,” as the experiment survivors came to be known.
Before the founding of CANDLES, little was known about the so-called Mengele twins, and Kor and the group participated in a mock trial of Mengele in Israel, which helped attract more attention to the surviving twins. Fifty years after her liberation, Kor returned again to Auschwitz, where she surprised many by announcing that, in her name only, she would forgive the Nazis for what they had done and thereby release herself from the pain of her personal suffering.
The details of Kor’s life and her struggle to promote peace and forgiveness have become legendary, as has the controversy over her decision to forgive. She was featured in the award-winning documentary, “Forgiving Dr. Mengele,” and published a memoir, “Surviving the Angel of Death: The Story of a Mengele Twin in Auschwitz.”
UAFS’ ReadThis! initiative allows students and the community come together to read and discuss a common book. This year’s selection is Simon Weisenthal’s, “The Sunflower: On the Possibilities and Limits of Forgiveness,” which recounts Weisenthal’s experiences in the death camps and his own struggle to forgive the Nazis.
This is a rare opportunity to hear one of the most powerful stories of our time from the person who lived it. We hope you can attend!
Contact Info: 479-788-7290