Holocaust survivor teaches HHS students about forgiveness, perseverance
Thu, 05/04/2017 - 5:00am admin
By Logan Jeno / Hardin High School
A respectful silence permeated the Custer County District High School gymnasium on Monday, April 23, despite it being filled to the brim with students and adults. Hardin High School students from advanced placement history classes were among the crowd who had gathered to listen to the story of Eva Mozes Kor, 83, a survivor of the Auschwitz concentration camp in Nazi-controlled Poland during World War II.
Kor and her twin sister Miriam were subject to the infamous medical experiments of Dr. Josef Mengele. She is now a public speaker and travels around the world to tell her story. Her Miles City presentation marks Kor’s 70th talk for this year alone.
Her story has two parts – first, how she ended up in Auschwitz and survived; and second, lessons she had learned while imprisoned.
While in Auschwitz, Kor was subjected to daily, eight-hour inspections to learn how twins worked and injected with different substances. One unknown substance made her too weak to walk for several weeks.
Through these experiments, Mengele was trying to find a method to increase the Nazi birth rate. Often, his efforts ended in the deaths of his subjects.
Kor survived, she said, by stealing food from the Nazis, who gave their prisoners too little food to properly survive. The prisoners would keep it a secret from them by refering to it as “organizing.” Kor said if she did not steal, she and her sister would have surely starved to death in the camp.
Through her hardship, Kor learned to always forgive those who have harmed you, so that they no longer have control over you. Do not act with prejudice, she said, because that is how the Nazis committed their crimes. Her final lesson was to never give up.
“No matter where you are, being young is hard,” Kor said. “But no matter what you do, don’t give up. It will get you nowhere in life. Not giving up is how I survived Auschwitz.”
A minute-long moment of silence came after the speech for the people who perished in the Holocaust. April 23-24 is Yom-HaShoah, or the Jewish Holocaust Remembrance Day.
The presentation concluded with the lighting of 12 candles, each in honor of a person or group that had suffered at the hands of the Nazis in World War II.
After the presentation, students could buy Kor’s book, “Surviving the Angel of Death.” If they decided to wait and brave the line, they could get their book signed and a picture taken with her. One of the people to wait was Hardin junior Jonathan Fergerson.
“It was a very moving presentation,” he said. “[It’s amazing] how she was able to forgive the Nazis for what they did to her, even though she was just a little girl.”
Of the 1,500 sets of twins selected for experiments by Mengele, 13 percent – or 200 sets – survived the experience.