Thursday, October 6, 2016

Eva Kor ~ CANDLES of Forgiveness

by Ramona K. Cecil

You’ve likely heard of the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington D.C., and you may have even visited it. But did you know that there is another Holocaust Museum located in my own home state of Indiana?

Holocaust Memorial Museum, Washington D.C.

CANDLES Holocaust Museum and Educational Center in Terre Haute, Indiana is dedicated to the memory of a particular group of Holocaust victims.

Front entrance of CANDLES Museum 

Josef Mengele; "Angel of Death"
In 1943, Nazi doctor Josef Mengele, the infamous “Angel of Death,” arrived at the Nazi death camp located at Auschwitz, Poland

Auschwitz Nazi death camp

There, he began horrific experiments on children inmates who happened to be twins. Eager to make a name for himself and possessed of an acute interest in heredity, Mengele could truly be described as the quintessential “evil, mad scientist.” Through the study of genetics, Mengele dreamed of discovering the key that would unlock the secrets of heredity. If he could figure out how to assure that Aryan women would give birth to blond, blue-eyed twins, he could exponentially advance the Nazi ideals. In the name of Mengele’s fanatic quest for genetic purity, countless children were reduced to human lab rats; subjected to unimaginable tortures. 

Mengele with twin sisters

Mengele performing eye experiments on twin brothers

Two of these children were Eva and Miriam Mozes.

Eva and Miriam, unlike countless others, including their parents and two older sisters, managed to survive the horrific ordeal. After being liberated by the Soviet Army in 1945, they were sent to live with a relative in their home country of Romania
Scene from Soviet liberation of Auschwitz

Eva and Miriam 1949
In 1950 the sisters were given permission to emigrate to Israel. There Eva met Michael Kor, an American tourist and fellow Holocaust survivor. They married 
Eva and Michael in later years
and settled in Terre Haute, Indiana where they raised two children, Alex and Rina. 1984 Eva founded and organization called CANDLES, which is an acronym for Children of Auschwitz Deadly Lab Experiments Survivors. It is the only organization in the world dedicated to the memory of Mengele’s twin experiments at Auschwitz.

Eva knew that only through forgiveness would she finally heal from the horrors of Auschwitz and shed the shackles of victimhood. CANDLES Museum and Education Center opened to the public in 1995. Its mission statement reads: “CANDLES Holocaust Museum and Education Center shines a light on the story of the Holocaust and Eva Kor, to create an empowered community of critical thinkers who will illuminate the world with hope, healing, respect, and responsibility.”

Through the years, Eva and her sister Miriam have located 122 individual Mengele twins now living in ten different countries throughout the world and the search for more continues.

Gathering of Mengele twins in 1985 

Sadly, CANDLES’ message of forgiveness and healing has not gone without opposition and controversy. In 2003, the museum was firebombed by arsonists and destroyed, but with the help of the community, it was rebuilt and reopened in 2005. Thousands of visitors, including many school-age children have visited CANDLES.

Eva Kor remains an integral part of CANDLES, giving lectures, guided tours and, in 2009, taught a course at Indiana State University on overcoming adversity in life.

As I think of Eva Kor’s CANDLES Museum situated in Terre Haute, Indiana on the banks of the Wabash River, I’m reminded of the words from our state song; “Through the sycamores the candle lights are gleaming, on the banks of the Wabash, far away.”

Over seventy years and half a world removed from the horrors of the Nazi death camp at Auschwitz, Poland, Eva, from the banks of the Wabash, continues to shine a candle on the memory of those who suffered and died there, and the power of forgiveness in healing the human spirit.

Ramona K. Cecil is a poet and award-winning author of historical fiction for the Christian market. A proud Hoosier, she often sets her stories in her home state of Indiana.

Check out her website at  


  1. What horrors they must have faced. Thank you for sharing the bright side of this terrible part of history.

  2. Hi Debbie, and thanks. It is an awful story, but one I feel needs to be told. Eva's story is an awesome example of the power of forgiveness.

  3. Heartbreaking. Thanks for sharing this.

    1. Hi, Connie. It's an ugly part of history, but a part we should never forget.

  4. My heart aches. Thank you for educating me about CANDLES. Powerful post.

    1. You're so welcome, Susanne. I only recently learned about CANDLES. I've put it on my "must visit" list. The bravery and resilience of Eva and all the other Auschwitz survivors should never be forgotten.

  5. I've been there! They had had a fire at their museum, so a lot of stuff they'd had displayed was gone, but they had a little glass room with some of the burnt stuff that was still recognizable.
    We actually talked with Eva and were able to hear her story first-hand from her! It was so sad and encouraging at the same time. My mom gave her a hug and cried with her.
    I would DEFINITELY recommend this museum to everyone!
    Elly -Indiana-

  6. Hi, Elly! How neat is that?! Not sure when you were there, but it sounds like they've rebuilt the museum. I'm so glad you got to meet Eva. I look forward to meeting her in the future.