When I got the opportunity to tour the CANDLES Holocaust Museum with a group of Lilly Grant recipients, I had no idea what I would find. Initially, I didn’t think it compared in size and scope with others I had seen, but the CANDLES Museum offered a treasure no other Holocaust Museum could offer: Eva Mozes Kor.

Eva describing her family

As a bit of back story, since I was a child and my dad visited Israel, I have had a special love for Jews (I did my eighth grade research paper on Jewish Persecution), so when we had the chance to tour the CANDLES Museum as a workshop, I took the opportunity without hesitation. CANDLES stands for Children of Auschwitz Nazi Deathly Lab Experiments Survivors. Eva Mozes Kor, herself a survivor of Dr. Mengele’s Twin experiments, founded the Museum in 1995 after she and her twin sister (both of whom survived Auschwitz) had located 122 survivors of the experiments. As we sat in that small two room museum and listened to her story, we were spell-bound. For a little over an hour, Eva shared her journey with us.

Yet, it wasn’t until we turned to look at the back wall that my real shock came. When Eva moved to that side of the room, I turned and gasped as I saw a movie poster from “Forgiving Dr. Mengele.” (www.youtube.com/watch?v=LbDyc4WNU6Y) Suddenly, everything slid into place. This woman was the star of an amazing video I had seen earlier that year which had challenged me on so many levels. Her message of forgiveness is incredibly relevant to so many today.

One of the most serendipitous things about this time was the opportunity that a fellow teacher had. Eva had come to her school when she was a seventh grader in the midst of being an outcast and bullied. Eva’s message of forgiveness had given this teacher hope as a young girl–now, almost 20 years later, she got to meet her again and thank her for helping her survive the experience of being bullied and go on to become a teacher herself.

Meeting this unforgettable lady!

According to the staff, Eva is at the museum six days a week, has an incredible two hour presentation for students, and works tirelessly around the place. She also survived a current hate crime when the museum was defaced and burned in 2003. She saw it rebuilt in 2005 and continues sharing the truth of the healing power of forgiveness. One of my favorite quotes from the evening is “Anger is the seed of war; forgiveness is the seed of peace.”

If anyone is in the Terre Haute, Indiana, area, be sure to add The CANDLES Museum at 1532 S. 3rd Street to your itinerary. It will be well worth your time!