Marti and I spent some time yesterday getting to know about Eva Mozes Kor, a Holocaust survivor who died Thursday on the 4th of July at 85. We want to thank our good friend of the Catch, Robert from Seattle, for introducing us to the story of this remarkable woman who survived torture and unspeakable atrocities in Auschwitz. As a twin, she and her sister were subjected to a host of dehumanizing experiments by doctors who treated them worse than laboratory rats.
Eva came very close to dying at the age of 10 from being injected with various diseases just to see what would happen. Upon her release and the discovery that the rest of her family had perished in the camps, she moved to the United States and settled in Indiana where, as an adult, finding no relief from the demons of hatred and revenge, she began a worldwide manhunt for the Nazi doctor who had inflicted so much pain on her and her sister and other Jewish twins. She wanted to not only bring him to justice, but to show him that she had survived.
After decades of fruitless searching and becoming a one woman campaign to make sure the world never forgot what happened in the Holocaust, a strange and unexpected thing happened: Eva discovered forgiveness.
In a very touching video, the power of this forgiveness becomes visible when she forgives an old Nazi guard and he reaches out and embraces her — literally pulls her to him and kisses her on the neck. After receiving criticism from some of her fellow survivors for whom forgiveness is unthinkable, she states the following:
I no longer carry any anger or hatred toward anybody and that is not because they deserve it but I deserve to live without it. Once I don’t have anger or animosity toward them, you’re opening yourself up to a lot of other human emotions. And I know that people are very quick to anger. For the life of me, I do not understand why nobody cares to endorse my gesture of kindness toward an old man or his gesture of loving toward me. Why is that such a big crime? Why always so willing to accept animosity and revenge and not good will?
As Marti wrote after hearing her incredible comment about suddenly being open to so many other human emotions, “this causes us to be vulnerable and capable of seeing ourselves for who we are, and then, therefore, in great need of the free gift of Grace, we are willing and able to give such a gift to others.” Is this not the essence of Grace Turned Outward?
Eva found that forgiveness is healing. Forgiveness is freeing. She was no longer a victim; she triumphed over the animosity, the hatred and the pain. If we refuse to forgive, we are the only one we are hurting.