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Holocaust survivor Eva Kor dies at age 85

Governor Eric Holcomb awards Eva Kor the the 2017 Sachem Award, the state\'s highest honor

TERRE HAUTE, Ind. (AP) — Holocaust survivor Eva Kor, who championed forgiveness even for those who carried out the Holocaust atrocities, has died.

The CANDLES Holocaust Museum and Education Center she founded in Indiana released a statement saying Kor died Thursday morning in Krakow, Poland, during an annual museum trip. She was 85.

Kor is a Jewish native of Romania who was sent in 1944 to the Auschwitz concentration camp, where most of her family was killed.  She and her twin sister survived, but were subjected to inhumane medical experiments.

Kor was a longtime resident of Terre Haute, Indiana.  In 1985, she founded CANDLES, or Children of Auschwitz Nazi Deadly Lab Experiments Survivors.

Museum officials say the center will be closed until Tuesday in honor of Kor's memory.

A public memorial service is planned.

Governor Eric J. Holcomb offered the following statement regarding the passing of Eva Kor.

“The world just lost a giant with Eva Kor’s passing. Janet and I loved and adored her. Everywhere she went, Eva brought light into darkness and provided comfort to those in pain unlike anyone we’ve ever met. 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. Her angelic spirit will live on in the countless souls she saved from ongoing confusion and torment. Janet and I are reminded just how blessed we are to have her as a friend. We will miss her laughter, her wisdom and her passion. We call on every Hoosier to look above on this Independence Day and say a prayer for Eva and the family and nation she leaves behind.”

CANDLES posted the following statement to their Facebook page.

We are deeply saddened to announce the passing of Eva Kor, Holocaust survivor, forgiveness advocate, and founder of CANDLES Holocaust Museum and Education Center. Eva passed peacefully today, July 4th, 2019, at 7:10am local time in Krakow, Poland on the annual CANDLES trip to Poland.

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.

Serving eight years in the Israeli army, Eva tried to create a new life for herself through learning a new trade and getting to know her fellow soldiers. After meeting another survivor and getting married, Eva moved from Tel Aviv, Israel, to Terre Haute, IN, where she spoke no English. Learning the language, raising two children, and working in real estate for 34 years, Eva tried to put her past behind her. But when the NBC special The Holocaust premiered, Eva realized the community finally had context for her tragic history. This newfound visibility and understanding led to a path filled with searching for Dr. Mengele’s files, speaking all over the world, helping individuals in search of their own healing, and founding a museum that continues to grow every year. Eva blazed trails for Holocaust education and brought the story of the Mengele twins and Dr. Mengele’s experiments into the international spotlight.


The themes of Eva’s life are apparent. We can overcome hardship and tragedy. Forgiveness can help us to heal. And everyone has the power and responsibility to make this world a better place.


We hope Eva’s story continues to change the lives of those who hear it for many years to come.


CANDLES Holocaust Museum and Education Center will be closed until Tuesday, July 9th, at 10:00am EST in honor of Eva. We welcome visitors to come to the museum and pay their respects once we have reopened on Tuesday.


Information about a public memorial service for Eva will be released at a future date. Her family thanks everyone for their kind words and for allowing them to have their peace and privacy at this time.


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