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Eva Kor, Holocaust survivor and Indiana resident, dies at 85


Holocaust survivor Eva Kor poses for a photo at the Helene G. Simon Hillel Center in 2012. Kor died July 4 in Krakow, Poland, on an annual trip to the former Auschwitz-Birkenau concentration camp. Rabi Abonour

Eva Kor, a Holocaust survivor and Indiana resident, died Thursday morning. She was 85. 

Kor died at 7:10 a.m. local time in Krakow, Poland, according to the CANDLES Holocaust Museum and Education Center. She was leading an annual trip to the former Auschwitz-Birkenau concentration camp with CANDLES. 

“Eva Kor has touched hundreds of thousands of people over her 85 years through her message of overcoming tragedy, finding forgiveness and healing,” CANDLES staff said in a statement on the center’s website. 

Kor was born in 1934 in Portz, Romania, according to the CANDLES website. In 1944, Kor and her family were sent to Auschwitz, where she and her twin sister, Miriam, were separated from their parents and siblings. The sisters survived being experimented on by Josef Mengele, a Nazi scientist, until the camp was liberated in 1945. 

Following World War II, Kor lived in Romania and Israel before marrying fellow survivor Michael Kor and moving to Terre Haute, Indiana, in the 1960s. She and her sister created CANDLES, or Children of Auschwitz Nazi Deadly Lab Experiments Survivors, in 1984 to honor the memory of and find other Mengele twins. 

Kor was known for her advocacy for forgiveness as a method of self-empowerment. CANDLES keeps a page dedicated to Kor’s definition of forgiveness on its website. 

“This concept of forgiveness has little or nothing to do with the perpetrator,” according to the statement. “It has everything to do with the need of victims to be free from the pain inflicted upon them.”

In 2017, Gov. Eric Holcomb gave Kor the Sachem Award, the state of Indiana’s highest honor. 

“Eva brought light into darkness and provided comfort to those in pain unlike anyone we've ever met,” Holcomb said in a statement Thursday. “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 he and Indiana First Lady Janet Holcomb considered Kor a friend.

 “Her angelic spirit will live on in the countless souls she saved from ongoing confusion and torment,” he said.

CANDLES will be releasing information about a public memorial service for Kor at a later date, according to the center’s statement. 

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