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"Eva" An Auschwitz survivor’s journey to forgiveness and healing | A film by Ted Green, Mika Brown and WFYI Public Media, Indianapolis
“Let it begin with us.” - Eva Kor Eva Kor’s final speech, intended to be given at the ceremonies marking the 75th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz.
Dear Friends,

Seventy-five years ago, four days before our 11th birthday, my sister Miriam and I sought shelter inside a barrack at Auschwitz I. My memory of that day is very vivid. We woke up on that morning and all the terrible sounds of war were eerily silent. A woman suddenly came into the barrack yelling loudly, "We are free! We are free!" As children, we thought she had given way to madness after all this time. Miriam, my twin sister, had talked about the idea before: Freedom. We wondered, could it be that THIS would be the day that we would be FREE? But, what did that mean? "Free.”

Along with many others, we went outside to see what was happening. There were many people, but one group attracted our attention because they were wearing white camouflaged coats, and they didn't look like the Nazis, so that had to be good. It was the Soviet Army, there to liberate us. We went up to them, and they gave us cookies, chocolates and hugs; everything a child could have dreamt about at that moment. That was when I realized that Miriam and I were free and alive, and we had survived. We desperately wanted to go home and find our family, but at age 10, certainly did not know how to accomplish that great feat by ourselves. It was only because of fellow survivor, Mrs. Rosalia Csengeri, who knew my mother pre-war, that we ever arrived home safely. These are only a few of my memories; it is these memories that are the source of my strength and motivations for many of my actions.
I am here today to declare that despite these vivid memories, we all still have much work to do. Much of the world around us is in turmoil with hate crimes and anti-Semitic violence at a level not seen since World War II.
It is, in part, due to the current world situation, that my active responsibility to share my memories in an effort to educate the world, with the hope that this education will keep another Auschwitz from happening, feels more urgent than ever.
There is nothing I can do to change my past, but I can change my future and hopefully that of others. Saying "NEVER AGAIN" is not enough. We must act with definite purpose and a common goal for the sake of ourselves and others. It is up to us to actively teach today's world, especially our youth, WHY respect and common decency for everyone, regardless of race, religion, or any other difference, is so important. And, until we use that education to begin to heal our own wounds on the most basic level and allow ourselves, the former prisoners, to be free of the pain of our tragic pasts, we will never be truly free. It is my opinion that by being free of the pain, survivors ensure their eternal peace and fortify their abilities to reach out and educate others with their memories.
In my life, I have met with survivors and perpetrators as well as their children and grandchildren, and new generations of hundreds of German-born children who all share something: Guilt. For some, this guilt was because of the memories of their own actions. For others, this guilt is because of the knowledge and memories of the actions of individuals who they do not know. Nothing positive has developed in them because of this guilt, but yet the human interactions with generations of Germans long removed from the Holocaust have been, for me, incredibly powerful and positive.

I leave you with this question: How do we use our memories today to change the course of events for future generations living long past our own mortalities? We all have the power within us which we can use to answer this question for the betterment of humanity.
My power from within is forgiveness as a way to heal and empower myself. I suggest that we all have the power to forgive those who have wronged us, not for the benefit of them, but because ALL OF US finally deserve to live free in a way that allows us to share our memories without reliving the unbearable and agonizing pain of our pasts with every spoken word or shared memory. By doing so, we challenge any perpetrator, possible perpetrator, or denier of today or the future by empowering ourselves and others with the undeniable and unforgettable truth of what happened here, each and every day. Our memories will provide the necessary fuel to light the way to hope, healing, understanding, goodwill, and peace for humanity. Like our vivid memories, the horrible crimes against us and millions of others can never be washed away or forgotten, but how we deal with these memories is our choice.
Let there be a new beginning which includes hope for mankind, and let it begin with US.
Thank you.

Michael Berenbaum: Ladies and gentlemen, the witness is no longer. But we must become the witnesses to the witness, and her voice and her respect for human decency and her responsibility for the future must become ours. Thank you.
Eva Kor giving peace sign at Auschwitz.