WIBC-FM, Indianapolis, Indiana, USA – Although she is known around the world for forgiving the Nazis who tortured her during World War II, Eva Mozes Kor reveals in a newly-released film that she lived for nearly 50 years as an angry person before learning to forgive.
“I was very angry with many people. I was in a lot of pain,” said Kor as she reflected on her life and how uncomfortable she was baring her soul for the documentary “Eva” that was released in April.
“Forgive your worst enemies. It will heal your soul and it will set you free,” Kor says in the new film narrated by Ed Asner. It documents Kor’s life, her travels and struggles and how she became the person who was able to forgive the individuals who committed atrocities on her, and who killed her family and millions of other people.
Kor and her sister Miriam were the only survivors in their entire family and that was because they were twins who were separated from the others by the Nazis. Josef Mengele, a Nazi doctor, was fascinated with twins and performed experiments on Kor and her sister among others. The lingering effects are believed to be what killed her sister in 1992.
The Holocaust (in Hebrew, “Ḥurban” meaning “destruction”), was the systematic state-sponsored killing of six million Jewish men, women, and children and millions of others by Nazi Germany and its collaborators during World War II. The Germans called this “the final solution to the Jewish question.”
Even before the Nazis came to power in Germany in 1933, they had made no secret of their desire to eliminate all Jews. As early as 1919, Adolf Hitler had written, “Rational anti-Semitism (discrimination against the Jews), must lead to systematic legal opposition.…Its final objective must unswervingly be the removal of the Jews altogether.”
In his political manifesto, Mein Kampf (“My Struggle”), Hitler further developed the idea of the Jews as an evil race struggling for world domination. Nazi racial ideology characterized the Jews as “subhumans” and “parasites” while the Aryans (Germans) were the “genius” race. Ultimately, the logic of Nazi racial anti-Semitism led to annihilation of millions of Jews.
- Watch the official “Eva” movie trailer (2:08).
- Listen to an Eva Kor interview about the new movie (9:54).
- Hear from other Holocaust survivors in this University of Michigan-Dearborn Holocaust Survivor Oral History Project.
- Learn more about the horrific History of the Holocaust from this comprehensive report in Encyclopedia Britannica.
Read previous posts on this website about Eva Mozes Kor:
- A Feb. 27, 2018 guest blog by Eva Mozes Kor written especially for this website.
- Eva Mozes Kor: “Let’s heal the world through forgiveness” – March 6, 2018
- Some Auschwitz Survivors Disagree with Eva Mozes Kor – May 6, 2015
- Nothing Good Ever Comes from Anger – April 28, 2015
- Forgiveness as Freedom – March 17, 2012
Five different people as a group have hurt me. Do you recommend that I forgive one at a time or do I forgive them as a group?
Have the people played different roles in this group? For example, was one the leader who started to hurt you and perhaps encouraged others to join? If so, you probably should forgive one at a time. I would recommend that you rate the degree of hurt that each person gave to you and start with the one who hurt you the least. Once you think you have completed the forgiveness process with that person, move up the list to the next person. Eventually, you will reach the one who has hurt you the most and you will be well-practiced in the process of forgiveness.
Learn more at How to Forgive.
Is the gift-giving to an offending other person a way to prove to yourself that you, indeed, have forgiven?
The gift-giving in its essence is not for the forgiver, but instead is for the one forgiven. Forgiveness as a moral virtue is concerned with goodness and that goodness flows out of the forgiver to the forgiven. While the gift-giving can be a sign to you that you have forgiven, that is not its primary function. The primary function is to do good to the other as a moral act in and of itself.
Learn more about what forgiveness is and is not at What Is Forgiveness?
When I forgive my former boyfriend, I find that I tend to make excuses for his behavior. I don’t like it when I see that I am making excuses. How do I avoid this?
There is a big difference between what we call **reframing** a person’s actions and excusing those actions. For example, if you see that he was under pressure and displaced his anger onto you, you can forgive while at the same time acknowledging that he should not have treated you this way. An excuse is to say that displacing anger is ok, acceptable, or not morally wrong. When you forgive and start to reframe whom the other person is, try to keep in mind that the behavior still is not fair. Your separating a person and his actions may help you to avoid excusing the actions as you forgive the person.
Learn more at How to Forgive.
Yes, and this is sometimes called group forgiveness. Group forgiveness is different from one person forgiving another. In the latter, a person can change feeling, thoughts, and behaviors toward an offending other. Groups do not have feeling and thoughts (individuals within groups have the feeling and thoughts). So, only actions are part of group forgiveness such as proclamations of forgiveness or establishing norms within the group to try to be kind toward the other group as justice is pursued.
Here is the abstract of a journal article on this issue:
Enright, R.D., Lee, Y.R., Hirshberg, M.J., Litts, B.K., Schirmer, E.B., Irwin, A.J., Klatt, J., Hunt, J., & Song, J.Y. (2016). Examining group forgiveness: Conceptual and empirical issues. Peace and Conflict: Journal of Peace Psychology, 22, 153-162.