Forgiveness at Auschwitz

Eva Mozes Kor was born in 1934. She and her twin sister, Miriam, were the third and fourth children in their Romanian family. When the girls were just nine years old, the entire family was taken to the Nazi death camp, Auschwitz.  Within minutes of being removed from the cattle car at Auschwitz, the girls were identified as twins and separated from the others. Eva’s last memory of her mother was her mother’s outstretched arms as she was pulled away from her girls. They never saw the rest of their family again.

The girls became part of an experimental group known as Mengele twins. Dr. Josef Mengele, often called the “Angel of Death,” performed experiments on twins. His goal was to try to increase the birthrate of an Aryan master race. The experiments included repeated injections of various types of drugs and careful measurement of the development of the twins. After injections one day, Eva became violently ill. Her fever spiked. Mengele declared that she would be dead in less than two weeks. Somehow, though, she survived.

It was nearly fifty years later that Eva had the opportunity to offer forgiveness to one of the Auschwitz doctors. When she openly and clearly pronounced forgiveness she said that she “felt free, free from Auschwitz, free from Mengele.” Decades of mental anguish and torment were apparently gone just that quickly.

Eva said others who survived the horrors of Nazi concentration camps couldn’t understand how she could do such a thing. They thought she was wrong for offering forgiveness. But Eva knew it was the right thing to do.

To us, that seems like a counterintuitive concept. It is completely backward from what out culture tries to tell us. Yet it is clearly what Jesus taught and demonstrated. “For if you forgive others their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you,  but if you do not forgive others their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.” (Matthew 6:14-15)

Scripture declares plainly, “Forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you” (Ephesians 4:32) and “As the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive.” (Colossians 3:13)

Is there someone you need to forgive?

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