I had the most amazing experience today! I am so happy that I decided to do a “year of firsts!” I have made myself get out and find things that are different to do. I am constantly on the look out for new things. It is taking me to places that I have never been.
Today’s first included my friend, MaryBeth, who has started doing a year of firsts, my daughter, and my 11 year old grandson.
I went to Ball State University to see Eva Mozes Kor, a holocaust survivor, speak today. The program started with a documentary about her life. Listening to what she went through as a child broke my heart. She was 10 years old when she was ripped from the hands of her mother. She and her twin were pulled away from the mother to be taken as guinea pigs by Dr. Joseph Mengele. They lost their father, two older sisters, and lastly, their mother. They never saw them again. They were taken to a set of bunks, surrounded by rats, and given very little to eat. They were given injections of different viruses.
After the documentary the Muncie mayor spoke and then the event coordinator introduced Eva Mozes Kor. A little old lady walked onto the stage. She walked on with her coat over her arm. It took her a couple of minutes to get her coat settled on her chair and to get comfortable. She began to speak and immediately filled the stage. Wow, what a personality!
Eva told us about her experience and the experiences of her sister, Miriam. She has a never, ever give up philosophy of life. She said from the moment she got into that horrible prison camp she decided that she was going to survive and get her sister out alive too. She saw her first dead bodies laying in the latrine. Young children laying there dead. She was held down and tattooed with her number A-7063. Her number was blurred due to the struggling and fighting she did. It took four people to hold her down. She was going to do whatever it took to live another day.
She was injected with diseases and then experimental drugs to see if they worked to combat the disease. She got very sick for a while. She said Dr. Mengele stood over her and said that she would be dead within 2 weeks. She decided that she was not going to die. She fought off the disease and was reunited with her twin.
They were in the camp almost 10 months before the Russians liberated the camp.
What stood out most today was her attitude of forgiveness. She went to Germany in 1993 and met with Dr. Munch, a doctor from the Auschwitz camp where she had been held. She spoke with him and offered him her forgiveness. She has since forgiven Dr. Mengele, although he has been long dead. She feels like that has given her power. She says that she took back her power by making the decision to forgive. Other survivors were upset with her, and many are still upset by her forgiveness of the Nazis.
The following are the life lessons she has learned:
- Never ever give up on yourself or your dreams, for everything good in life is possible.
- Judge people on their actions and the content of their character.
- Forgive your worst enemy and forgive everyone who has hurt you – it will heal your soul and set you free.
Eva has started a Holocaust museum in her hometown, Terre Haute, Indiana. The museum called CANDLES, Children of Auschwitz Nazi Deadly Lab Experiments Survivors. She has put so much of her life into the museum. In November 2003, an arsonist destroyed the museum. She reopened the museum in a new building in April of 2005.
I plan to visit the museum this summer with my son. I hope to be able to speak to Eva Mozes Kor.
Mrs. Kor is 80 years old. She was 10 when she was taken into Auschwitz. There is not going to be many more years where it will be possible to see and hear a survivor of the Holocaust. I am so happy that I got to see her, but I am even happier that my grandson got the experience. Her story should never be forgotten.
My Inspiration For Doing The Year of Firsts
As you may know I am doing a first every day this year. I read the book I Dare me by Lu Ann Cahn. Lu Ann has a website and has published a book talking about her year of firsts. I read the book and it motivated me to try a year of firsts. Lu Ann is at luanncahn.com and her blog has all her firsts. She determined that a first could be something you hadn’t done in 10 years. Here is my A Year of Firsts. Make sure to go see my guest post on Lu Ann’s blog and leave a comment.