March 7, 2014 2:47 PM   Subscribe

Eva Mozes Kor and her twin sister were the victims of medical and genetic experiments at the hands of Josef Mengele in Auschwitz. She recently did an AMA on Reddit.
posted by gman (10 comments total) 38 users marked this as a favorite

I have been confronted by deniers, revisionists, and I have one simple response for them: I know I had a mother and father, and I never saw them again after Auschwitz, nor my older sisters. So if you know so much, tell me what happened to my family. If my story isn't true, I guess you will agree with me and will repeat after me, that you want your family to have the same destiny as mine did. If you don't believe my story about how my family ended up, I want you to say out loud that you wish the same thing for my family that happened to your family. And they are usually silent.
posted by swift at 3:01 PM on March 7, 2014 [22 favorites]

item, you may be glad to discover, as I was, that the subreddit /r/tabled exists. It nicely filters out all the usual reddit iama garbage leaving (mostly) the gold. Here is the iama in question.
posted by Poldo at 3:29 PM on March 7, 2014 [22 favorites]

Thanks so much for bringing this AMA to my attention. I've been thinking a lot about forgiveness lately, and just how it seems like an impossible wall of bs. But it is really chastening to read perspectives such as Kor's:
Take a piece of paper and start writing a letter to the person or people who caused you all that pain and anger. It took me four months to write mine. Don't stop until you finish, and at the bottom write "I forgive you" when you feel it in your heart. You have to feel the physical freedom from that pain and anger.
When my museum was firebombed in 2003, I asked myself, "Why would anyone want to do that to me?" First is shock, second is disbelief, and then you ask yourself, "Am I going to hate these people?" If I let anger take over, I am going to become a victim again. And even as the flames were still burning the building, I could see it was an easy way of slipping back into that victim mentality. Now I said I was very sad, and I was. But I would not let them win by becoming a victim.
posted by lesli212 at 7:19 PM on March 7, 2014 [1 favorite]

She's asked what the concept of forgiveness means to her.

"Forgiveness is more than 'letting go.' It is proactive rather than passive. We become victims involuntarily, when a person or entity with power takes away our power to use our mind and body in the way we choose. Something was done to us that put us in a position of feeling powerless. Thus the conscious choice to forgive provides healing, liberation, and reclamation of this power."

[More here at CANDLES Holocaust Museum.]

As someone who's been disbelieved because I managed to choose to forgive a childhood abuser, this is both powerful and useful. Thank you for the post.
posted by goofyfoot at 7:51 PM on March 7, 2014 [4 favorites]

I saw her speak at a bioethics conference and I have her books signed. She is truly an amazing woman. I genuinely don't think I have that kind of forgiveness inside of me.
posted by Sophie1 at 8:47 PM on March 7, 2014

She is truly an amazing woman. I genuinely don't think I have that kind of forgiveness inside of me.

You never know. She was/is a very courageous woman. In a way, the sheer scale and moral outrage in a place like Auschwitz is beyond anyone's imagination. To experience such moral outrage and then survive it would leave many people with so large a hatred that it might destroy them. There is a phrase (maybe from the Christian Bible?) that says "hatred destroys the vessel". Given the foregoing, someone, in an act of self-survival might will the capacity to forgive, because to not forgive would/might make one a victim, twice. This may be one of the things that drives some persons who have experienced horrific suffering at the hands of another human being to work on and hopefully accomplish forgiveness. As I write this, I don't know if I would have the capacity to forgive that kind of moral outrage, but I don't ever want to find out, and fervently wish no one else would have to either.

To survive the aftermath of her suffering, Eva Mozes Kor's well of humanity and self-survival must have been great. She is an inspiration, and will continue to be an inspiration.

RIP Eva Mozes Kor
posted by Vibrissae at 12:02 AM on March 8, 2014 [1 favorite]

RIP Eva Mozes Kor

Huh? Eva is still alive.
posted by lullaby at 2:45 AM on March 8, 2014 [1 favorite]

I cannot possibly read this (my grandparents were both Auschwitz survivors, my uncles, aged 3 and 8, were not so lucky) - but thank you for posting it.
posted by Mchelly at 6:32 PM on March 8, 2014

Given the foregoing, someone, in an act of self-survival might will the capacity to forgive, because to not forgive would/might make one a victim, twice.

My grandmother was at a different camp (Mauthausen) and she survived. She continued to think of herself as a victim and she never forgave or forgot. I don't think she had less of a life or was less of a person than anyone else. She *was* a victim and she looked that in the face, even as she went on to have a full life of her own and to die of natural causes in her late 80s. I don't like the idea that having been a victim, and identifying with and accepting that, tarnishes someone.

I respect Kor and her approach very much but I don't think there is only one right way to live after suffering. Each person does what they need to do.
posted by Salamandrous at 9:45 AM on March 10, 2014 [2 favorites]

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