Holocaust survivor and Indiana resident Eva Kor, a human rights champion who endured medical experimentation at the Auschwitz concentration camp, died Thursday at the age of 85.
The CANDLES Holocaust Museum and Education Center — which Kor founded in Terre Haute, Ind. — announced that she “passed peacefully” during an annual trip to Krakow, Poland.
“Eva Kor has touched hundreds of thousands of people over her 85 years through her message of overcoming tragedy, finding forgiveness, and healing,” the museum said in a statement. “Surviving the Holocaust at age 10 meant that Eva emerged from a childhood full of fear, loss, grief, and displacement.”
Kor and her twin sister, Miriam, were the sole survivors of their family after losing their mother, father and two older sisters on the selection platform at Auschwitz, according to the museum.
The girls were among some 1,500 sets of twins who were subjected to horrendous genetic experiments by Nazi doctor Josef Mengele during World War II. Those 3,000 children were constantly abused and most of them died as a result of the experiments.
After the war, Kor joined the Israeli army and later moved to the U.S. with her husband, a fellow Holocaust survivor. She later became a forgiveness activist, describing in speeches around the world how forgiveness helped her heal from pain, trauma and tragedy.
“The themes of Eva’s life are apparent,” the museum wrote. “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.”
The Auschwitz Memorial in Poland said it had recorded a testimony with Kor just five days ago for its archive.
“It (is) more than just ‘a breaking news’. It is a devastating one as one more survivor stopped sharing the story,” the museum tweeted.
Indiana Gov. Eric Holcomb also released a statement Thursday.
“Everywhere she went, Eva brought light into darkness & provided comfort to those in pain unlike anyone we’ve ever met,” he wrote. “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.”
The CANDLES museum will be closed until Tuesday in her honor. Details about a public memorial service will be released soon, the museum said.
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