July 4, 2019

Holocaust Survivor Eva Kor Dies At 85

Eva Kor, Holocaust survivor and founder of the CANDLES Holocaust Museum and Education Center in Terre Haute, died Thursday. She was 85.

Eva Kor, Holocaust survivor and founder of the CANDLES Holocaust Museum and Education Center in Terre Haute, died Thursday. She was 85.

Taylor Bennett and Barbara Brosher

Holocaust survivor and founder of the CANDLES Holocaust Museum and Education Center in Terre Haute, Eva Kor died at 85 Thursday.

Most of her family was killed, but she and her twin sister survived. They were subjected to inhumane medical experiments by Nazi doctor Josef Mengele. before their liberation in 1945.

"Within 30 minutes my whole family was ripped apart and all died, except for Miriam and me who were used as human guinea pigs by Dr. Mengele," Kor said in 2017. 

Kor said she was subjected to the experiments six days a week, until the camp was liberated in 1945.

She served eight years in the Israeli army, before eventually meeting another Holocaust survivor, getting married and moving to Terre Haute. While the transition to life in the U.S. wasn't easy for Kor, she came to view Indiana as home. 


"I learned that although the streets were not paved with gold, the people of Indiana were as good as gold," she said in 2017. "They worked hard, believed in mutual respect and the never-ever-giving-up attitude that fit me very well."

Kor founded CANDLES in 1984 to share her story, and those of other children subjected to inhumane experiments. She traveled the world sharing her message of healing through forgiveness. 

"I really today believe that every one of us walks the face of this earth deserves to be happy, we have the human right to be happy and to be free from anything that life or society imposes on us," she said. 

Gov. Eric Holcomb gave Kor the Sachem Award in 2017. It’s the state’s highest honor.f


In a statement, Holcomb said Kor brought light into darkness everywhere she went. 

"From her against all odds survival as a young girl in Auschwitz to her peace spreading message based from home in Terre Haute, Indiana, her relentless and optimistic example inspired the world," Holcomb said. 

Indiana State University said in a statement that Kor changed lives by spreading her message. 

"Eva stands as one of the tallest and strongest Sycamores," ISU President Deborah Curtis said. "Our Indiana State family is devastated at the news of her passing, but we know her legacy of forgiveness will live on for generations to come."

Kor was a 1990 graduate of the university and received its Distinguished Alumni Award in 2017. 

CANDLES will be closed until Tuesday in honor of Kor. A public memorial service will be planned for a future date. The CANDLES Holocaust Museum released a statement following her death:

Eva Kor has touched hundreds of thousands of people over her 85 years through her message of overcoming tragedy, finding forgiveness, and healing. Surviving the Holocaust at age 10 meant that Eva emerged from a childhood full of fear, loss, grief, and displacement. She and her twin sister, Miriam, were the sole survivors of her immediate family, losing two sisters, her mother, and father on the selection platform at Auschwitz. In addition, she and Miriam were put through the horrific and inhumane experiments by Nazi doctor Josef Mengele. But rather than allowing the darkest moments of her life to define her, she moved forward headfirst into a life of purpose.

Kor was in Poland, leading one of her annual tours to Auschwitz. Information about a public memorial service for Eva will be released at a future date.

This post will be updated.

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