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Monday, April 26, 2010

Forgiving Dr. Mengele

Not all heroines wield a revolver and have a sixth degree black belt in Karate.
We tend to view view strength as the ability to hold one's own in a physical confrontation, forgetting the strength that lies within the heart and will.

When Eva Kor was a little girl, she and her twin sister, Miriam were sent to Auschwitz and put through research studies with Dr. Josef Mengele. The doctor, a former dentist, was a sadist. Now with a license to experiment on the helpless wrapped in the honorable title of medical researcher.

The girls were liberated and came to America. When Eva's sister died, Eva began to wonder if the Auschwitz experiments could have contributed to Miriam's illness. She tried to find records of Mengele's research to no avail. Mengele disappeared leaving a legacy of pain and nightmares.

Eva became a real estate agent in Indiana. Once she was told, because of her accent, none would work with her. She was different, so she might be singled out. It wasn't as though she hadn't heard it before. She went on with her plans anyway. In addition to becoming a real estate agent, she opened a Holocaust museum called CANDLES in Terra Haute.

The museum was vandalized, swastikas painted on the walls. Eva was interviewed on the news. She began to talk about forgiveness. Anger was like a cancer, and hate ate at the soul until nothing was left. She went on to make a movie documentary called "Forgiving Dr. Mengele" where she revisited Auschwitz and forgave the Nazi's.

The movie was deemed controversial and criticized. Some were outraged that Eva would suggest forgiving the Nazi's. She was attacked on all sides by scholars, survivors, even clergy. In the midst of all the criticism, she was able to say "Getting even has never healed a single person."
In a society where "don't get mad, get even" is the mantra of most movies, the idea of forgiveness flies in its face.

Eva admits the perpetrator must take responsibility for his own actions, while the victim is free to to keep the pain, forgiveness sets the victim free. Carrying the hurt inside will only keep the victim a slave to the pain.
Forgiveness means the perpetrator can no longer hurt you.

Eva believes forgiveness is the ultimate means of self healing and empowerment. Forgiving the Nazi's isn't something she did for them; she did it for her. She encourages all people to seek this gift for themselves. She warns "Pain and anger are the SEEDS for WAR. FORGIVENESS is the SEED for peace."

Hollywood can keep the guns, bombs and fancy fight scenes. Turn down the volume and take time to listen to a real heroine.

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