"Forgive your worst enemy"

An obituary of Eva Mozes Kor

Eva Mozes Kor, one of the last Auschwitz survivors and victims of medical human experiments, died on 4 July 2019. She dedicated her life to campaigning for Holocaust remembrance and reconciliation - also with the Max Planck Society, which, as the Kaiser Wilhelm Society's successor, accepted the difficult legacy of its predecessor organziation, burdened by unethical research.

In 2001, Hubert Markl, the President of the Max Planck Society at the time, apologised to Eva Mozes Kor and other victims of inhumane science for the suffering inflicted on them in the name of research during the Nazi era. He delivered the apology at a symposium where the findings of an independent group of science historians were presented, which Markl had commissioned to investigate the role  of the Kaiser Wilhelm Society in the Third Reich. "The sincerest form of apology is the disclosure of guilt," Markl said in his speech. Not only bio- and brain researchers, but also researchers in material and breeding research as well as aerodynamics had profited from the opportunities that the Nazi state granted them; they legitimized its ideology, supported its aims and were complicit in its crimes.

Eva Mozes Kor, who was born in Romania in 1934, was deporated to the Auschwitz death camp together with her family in 1944, where she and her twin sister Miriam were selected for medical experimentation carried out on twins conducted by camp physician Josef Mengele.

Mengele was in close contact with scientists from the Kaiser Wilhelm Institute of Anthropology, Human Heredity and Eugenics in Berlin. He also sent blood samples and preparations of killed concentration camp inmates to the institute, which he had selected for research. Eva Mozes Kor and her sister were among the very few survivors of Mengele's experiments.

Kor emigrated to Israel in 1950 and later lived in the USA. Since the end of the 1970s, she had been actively involved in the remembrance of the Holocaust with the aim of reconciliation with the perpetrators. Together with other survivors, she founded the Children of Auschwitz - Nazi's Deadly Lab Experiments Survivor (CANDLES) association and in 1995 the CANDLES Holocaust Museum and Education Center in Terre Haute (USA). Eva Mozes Kor died on 4 July 2019 on a trip of the CANDLES Association to Krakow. Her words at the 2001 symposium are a legacy for the whole world: "Forgive your worst enemy. This will heal your soul and give you freedom." The Max Planck Society will always honour her memory.


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