martes, 26 de enero de 2016

Harrowing Details of Nazi Medical Experiments Emerge in Holocaust Survivor's Account

In newly-discovered deposition, Dachau survivor recounts he almost froze to death in a hypothermia experiment, and was whipped for not standing still while mosquitoes infected him with malaria.

The chilling testimony of a survivor of Nazi medical experiments has emerged in a three-page deposition recently unearthed at the Central Zionist Archive in Jerusalem.

The deposition, which carries no date, was submitted by Heinz Reimer, a Jewish survivor of several concentration camps, among them Dachau and Mauthausen. His testimony was discovered by an archivist during a routine cataloguing project of old Jewish Agency files. The document was discovered in a chronologically arranged file originally held at the Frankfurt office of the Jewish Agency. Since the document preceding it is dated August 1951, the assumption is that it was submitted sometime in the early post-war years. 

Reimer is possibly one of the few Dachau inmates to have undergone Nazi hypothermia experiments who survived the war. In these experiments, inmates were immersed in ice water to test how long the human body could survive in freezing temperatures. Those who survived the icy temperatures were often subjected to various body “rewarming” procedures that also involved immersing them in boiling water.

Forced cold water immersion experiment at Dachau concentration camp presided over by Professor Holzlohner (left) and Dr Rascher (right).

Noting that he was “misused as an object of experiments” and “as a vivisection object,” Reimer reported in his deposition that the notorious Nazi SS doctor Sigmund Rascher “conducted on me experiments of terminal hypothermia,” indicating that he was subjected to this procedure more than once.  Rascher ultimately fell out of grace with the Nazis and was executed by a German firing squad just before the end of the war.

Reimer’s testimony is included in a request he submitted to the Jewish Agency for financial assistance after the war. His address at the time was Hanover, Germany, although his nationality could not be verified by the archive. Representatives of the archive said they have no further information about his whereabouts since then. 

In his request, Reimer wrote that the money he was requesting would be used to help him set up a laundromat business as well as pay lawyers who might assist him in receiving restitution funds from the German government.

Visitors walk past a gate with "Work makes Free" written on it at the memorial site of the former Nazi concentration camp
in Dachau, southern Germany on April 24, 2009. Credit:AFP

Reimer reported that along with other tortures he endured in the camps, he was purposely infected with various diseases by Nazi doctors in order to test out cures for them.

Several sentences from the Reimer testimony, a copy of which was apparently also available at a Geneva-based UN archive, have already been published in a book on Nazi human experiments. But according to Patrick Casiano, the archivist at the CZA who discovered the document, this is the first time that the full three-page testimony has come to light. 

“I was very surprised to discover it,” he said, “because usually here at the CZA, we deal with administrative and bureaucratic documents that were in the possession of the various Zionist organizations – never something as personal and as gruesome in nature as this.”

In his testimony, Reimer referred by name to several Nazi doctors at Dachau, among them Dr. Claus Schilling, who was ultimately sentenced to death after the war by an American tribunal. “Dr. Schilling infected me three times with malaria tropical bacteria,” he wrote. “He withdrew from my body one and a half liters of blood for serum experiments. He infected me with syphilis by inflicting a 12-centimeter cutting wound to my leg. After this I had to undergo cures – I counted 46 injections of Atebrin [a drug used in the treatment of malaria] and other injections.”

Particularly chilling is Reimer’s account of how he was infected with malaria. “This inhuman Nazi locked me up every day for two hours in a glass cage and I had to endure thousands of Anopheles mosquitos on my body,” he wrote. “Once I could no longer stand the pain I made an attempt of resistance against the mosquitos while I assumed that this would not be seen. But the doctor, if you want to call this beast like this, saw my attempt of resistance in the mirror. For this I received seven days of strict detention. But before I was led away to the detention, I received 25 lashes with a leather bullwhip.”

According to his testimony, Reimer was interned at various Nazi concentration camps from November 1938 through June 1945. Dachau was the first Nazi concentration camp, opened in 1933, and served as a model for many others.


lunes, 25 de enero de 2016

Poignant Holocaust artwork by Jews forced into hiding, concentration camps and ghettos on display in Berlin

Nelly Toll was 8 years old when she and her mother went into hiding in 1943 in Poland to escape the Nazis’ death camps. The Jewish girl spent long hours in her tiny hideaway at a Christian family’s home writing stories, keeping a diary and creating wonderful, bright paintings of a lost world.
Her art is on display in the centre of Berlin at a special exhibition of Art from the Holocaust that opened at the German Historical Museum.
“I hope that generations to come will look at this and know what atrocities made me do this,” Toll told The Associated Press at the opening.
Toll’s paintings are among 100 artworks created by Jewish artists during the Holocaust on display, the first time the collection from the Yad Vashem memorial in Jerusalem has been shown outside Israel.
The exhibition includes work by Jewish artists in hiding, in concentration and labor camps, and in ghettos. Of the 50 artists featured, 24 were killed by the Nazis. Alongside the mostly unknown names are acclaimed artists such as Felix Nussbaum and Ludwig Meidner.
Toll is the only artist represented in the show who is still alive. One of her paintings, “Girls in the Field,” shows two girls, dressed in bright blue, red and yellow-dotted dresses walking across a sunny lawn confined by lush green trees.
“I made 60 paintings while in hiding and all of them express happiness,” said Toll, who lost her father and brother in the Holocaust. She emigrated to the United States with her mother after the war.
Like many Jews who created art while being surrounded by death, fear and suffering, painting was a way for Toll to break free and escape from the Holocaust’s harsh reality to imaginary places of beauty and happiness.
“I would have conversations with the characters in my paintings for hours,” Toll remembered.
Not all the works show an escape into a happy imagination. Some artworks are shocking in their depictions of life in the ghetto, daily discrimination and fear of being killed by the Nazis.
Halina Olomucki’s 1939 pencil work, “After the Shearing of the Beards,” shows two orthodox men with bandages around their heads after their beards had been torn or burned off by Germans in the Warsaw ghetto.
Leo Haas’ “Transport from Vienna” shows the arrival of a train full of elderly Jews at the Theresienstadt ghetto in 1942. Painted in dark, monochrome India ink, people with faces like hollow skulls can be seen tumbling out of cattle cars, many lying lifeless on the ground as a soldier keeps pulling more people off the train.
The show’s curator, Yad Vashem’s Eliad Moreh-Rosenberg, called the creation of art during the Holocaust an “uncompromising act of resistance” by artists in mortal danger.
It was very difficult for the artists to get painting supplies, but despite that and their appalling living conditions they managed to portray life during the Shoah, fighting their dehumanization by the Nazis and leaving behind painted witness accounts, Moreh-Rosenberg said.
Among the most touching works is a postcard painted in 1941 by both Karl Robert Bodek and Kurt Conrad Loew while at the Gurs camp in southwestern France, which was then under the Vichy regime that collaborated with the Nazis.
Titled “One Spring,” the watercolor shows a bright yellow butterfly sitting on top of black barbed wire, free to fly wherever it desires, while the two artists were confined to the dark barracks of the camp depicted at the bottom of the painting.
Bodek was killed a year later in Auschwitz-Birkenau, while Loew survived and died in his birth city of Vienna in 1980.
Chancellor Angela Merkel, who was to officially inaugurate the show on Monday night, said on her weekly podcast released over the weekend that such exhibitions are still critical for educating younger Germans about the Holocaust.
“It reminds us that we have an enduring responsibility for what has been done in the past…” she said. “I think it is very, very important that every generation reacquaints itself with Germany’s history.”
Merkel specifically cited fears raised by German Jewish leaders about a possible rise in anti-Semitism with the arrival of nearly 1.1 million migrants last year.
“We have to deal with it, especially among young people whose family background is from countries where hatred of Israel and the hatred of Jews is widespread,” she said.

miércoles, 16 de diciembre de 2015

Nazism opened the door to the global terrorism.

Nazism opened the door to the global terrorism. It drew a structural evil where nobody was saved, not even the German people. The enemy: everybody who could think for themselves in a critical and creative way, everybody who didn't live according to the Nazi rules. The Aryans were just "manufactured individuals", designed to become dehumanized automatons.
My book, "Los nazis y el Mal" on

El nazismo abrió la puerta al terrorismo globalizado. Dibujó un mal estructural donde nadie estaba a salvo, ni siquiera el pueblo alemán. El enemigo: todo aquel que pudiera pensar por si mismo de una forma libre y diferente a lo que dictaban las reglas nazis. Los arios eran tan sólo "individuos fabricados", diseñados para la violencia, es decir, autómatas inteligentes deshumanizados.

¡Ya a la venta mi libro, "Los nazis y el Mal" en formato e-book en 

Un libro que pone al descubierto las cuestiones aún hoy más vigentes.

sábado, 12 de septiembre de 2015

Pickled remains of Auschwitz victim whose wife and children were gassed before he was dismembered by sadistic Nazi doctor are finally laid to rest 72 years later.

The coffin containing the remains of victims of Dr August Hirt, 
is carried at the Strasbourg-Cronenbourg Jewish cemetery, eastern France
  • Polish Jew Menachem Taffel was one of demon Dr. August Hirt's 86 victims.
  • They were brought from Auschwitz in Poland to Natzweiler-Struthof, France.
  • Bodies were pickled in alcohol, but 72 years later they have been buried.

A Polish Jew whose body parts were pickled in a test tube by a sadistic Nazi doctor has finally been laid to rest 70 years after he was murdered.
Menachem Taffel, a dairy merchant who lived in Berlin, died a hideous death so Dr. August Hirt could preserve the skulls and bones of 'these sub-humans' so the 'degeneracy and the animality of these Jews', could be documented.
At the weekend, 72 years after they were killed in the pursuit of perverted medical science, the last two victims of the demon doctor, including Taffel, were buried in an emotional ceremony in France.
In August 1943, these two people - only one of whom could be identified as Taffel - were among a group of 86 Jews plucked from the Auschwitz death camp in Nazi-occupied Poland and transported to France for the sole purpose of being murdered.
There were no family members to say Kaddish, the Jewish prayer for the dead, for Taffel on Sunday. However, the story of what was done to him, his family and the millions of others who perished in the Holocaust lives on.
Taffel was born on July 21, 1900, in the Russian Empire called Galicia, now part of Poland, and in 1938 he and his family moved in with his wife Clare's parents in Berlin as the tempo of persecution against the Jews was stepped up in the Third Reich.
In March 1943, the family, including daughter Esther, who was 15 and a volunteer helper at a local nursing home, were shipped to Auschwitz.
His wife and children were gassed upon arrival. Taffel, who bore the number 107969 inked on his left forearm, had the misfortune of crossing the path of S.S.-Hauptsturmführer Dr August Hirt - a man who perverted the Hippocratic oath as he climbed the tawdry ladder of Nazism.
Born on April 28, 1898, in Mannheim, Germany into a family from Strasbourg in France, Hirt was the son of a Swiss businessman. In 1914, he volunteered to fight in World War I on the German side.

The corpse of Polish Jew Menachem Taffel (pictured) was pickled in alcohol on the orders of Dr August Hirt
          The corpse of Polish Jew Menachem Taffel (pictured) was pickled in alcohol on the orders of Dr. August Hirt

In October 1916, he was wounded in the upper jaw by a bullet and received the Iron Cross. He returned to Mannheim in 1917. 
He went on to study medicine at the University of Heidelberg and in 1921, he took German citizenship.
In the early 1930s he became involved with the Ahnenerbe institute, an S.S. think tank devoted to buttressing the Nazi philosophy that only 'Aryans' were worthy of life and that Jews, Gypsies, and Slavs were sub-humans who needed to be eradicated.
He joined the Institute of Anatomy at the Reichsuniversität in Strasbourg early in 1941 and soon became chairman of the anatomy department. 
He was a confidante of S.S. overlord Heinrich Himmler and privy to the top secret plan formulated at the Wannsee Conference outside Berlin for the 'final solution' - the mass murder - of the Jews in all lands conquered by Germany.
He submitted a paper to Himmler in February of 1942 stating that he wanted to create a collection of skulls and skeletons of the 'sub-humans' destined to die for research. 
Because the gas chambers of the secret killing centres were working at a furious pace, Hirt was worried that Europe's Jewish population would soon be eliminated - at which point 'Jewish skeletons would be as rare and precious as a diplodocus'.

Demon doctor August Hirt (pictured) submitted a paper to Himmler in February of 1942 
stating that he wanted to create a collection of skulls and skeletons of the 'sub-humans'

It was rumored that Hirt, who was venal as well as sadistic, toyed with the idea of setting up a skull mail order business for other Reich doctors, as a way of earning extra money.
Himmler responded enthusiastically to Hirt's request for bodies for his collection saying he was 'prodigiously interested' and considered the project to be of 'enormous value'.
A letter used as evidence during the post-war Nazi trials at Nuremberg includes an attachment with a report on 'securing skulls of Jewish-Bolshevik Commissars for the purpose of scientific research'.
It initially allowed Hirt to begin his gassings of Auschwitz Jews at Natzweiler-Struthof. This was the only Nazi murder camp on French soil, close to his research center and chosen as the place where the victims would die.
Himmler greenlighted to project and it was decided that Auschwitz would provide the prisoners for the macabre scheme. 
Initially, 115 people were selected, a number eventually whittled down to 87. Half of them were Greek Jews from Thessaloniki, the others an assortment of German, Polish, Austrian, Russian and Lithuanian victims.
The guinea pigs were held in a quarantine section of Auschwitz before being shipped in rail cars to Natzweiler-Struthof in July 1943. 
It was run by a man called Joseph Kramer, described by the Allies who would hang him after the war, as 'brutality incarnate'.
A gas chamber was built into an old refrigerator room and hydrogen cyanide was chosen as the method to kill the victims. 
On August 17, 1943, Taffel, and his fellow prisoners were killed over a three-night period in the name of Third Reich medicine.
Kramer later testified: 'One evening, about 9pm, the prisoners arrived. I led about fifteen women to the gas chamber. I told them they were going to be disinfected.
'With the help of some of the S.S. guards, I got them completely undressed and pushed them into the gas chamber.
'When I closed the door they began to scream. I put some of the crystals that Hirt had given me into the funnel above the observation window. 
'I would watch everything that was going on inside through it. The women continued to breathe for half a minute and then fell to the floor. I turned on the ventilation and when I opened the door they were lying dead on the ground. 
'I told some of the male S.S. nurses to put the bodies in a truck and take them to the Institute of Anatomy at 5.30 the next morning.
'I felt no emotion while accomplishing these tasks because I had received an order to execute the prisoners in the manner that I have described to you. That is simply how I was brought up.'
There were 87 victims originally chosen, but one of them, a woman, was shot by a guard as she struggled to escape the gas chamber. Her body was not sent to Strasbourg with the others because it was considered 'spoiled'.
Professor Hirt's assistants, Otto Bong and Henri Herypierre, began placing the bodies into vats of synthetic alcohol to preserve them when they arrived at his institute. Herypierre took the stand at Nuremberg after the war to describe the bodies.
He said: 'They were still warm. Their eyes were wide open and shining. They appeared congested and red and protruded from the socket. 
'There were traces of blood around the nose and mouth. There was no rigor mortis. It is my opinion that these victims had been poisoned or asphyxiated.'
The bodies were left pickling in alcohol when the Allies liberated France. It seems Hirt was given other, more important work to do by his Nazi bosses researching the effects of poison gas in combat situations.
Himmler ordered the destruction of the cadaver collection, but the Allies beat him to it. Most of the bodies were buried on October 23, 1945, in the municipal cemetery of Strasbourg-Robertsau before being transferred in 1951 to the Strasbourg-Cronenbourg Jewish cemetery.
Hirt fled Strasbourg in September 1944, hiding in Tübingen in southern Germany. He committed suicide on June 2, 1945.
It wasn't until July this year that the remains of Taffel and his unidentified soulmate in death were found in laboratory jars at the institute. 
All these years later, a post mortem was able to discern that his last meal on earth was potato peelings, consumed the night before he was murdered. 
Historian Raphael Toledano revealed that a forensics professor by the name of Camille Simonin, who was investigating Hirt, had preserved some of the remains despite the belief they had been buried in 1945. 
Several hundred people gathered for a sombre ceremony at the Strasbourg-Cronenbourg Jewish cemetery on Sunday, throwing an earth on a single coffin holding their collective remains.
The victims of Hirt's skeleton collection have been honored across the world through publications, articles, and memorials.
On December 11, 2005, a memorial was unveiled at the anatomy institute of Strasburg hospital, and at the Strasbourg-Cronenbourg Jewish cemetery. The unveiling was attended by relatives of Hirt's victims from Thessalonica, London, Germany, Israel and France.
The plaque reads: "Souvenez-vous d'elles pour que jamais la medecine ne soit devoyée" (Remember them so that medicine never be corrupted again).


miércoles, 2 de septiembre de 2015

Holocaust survivor: 'There was fear, not jubilation, the day we were freed from the concentration camp'

Tomi Reichental talks about the horrors of his childhood during the Holocaust and life after liberation.

The 80-year-old Holocaust survivor has dedicated much of the last decade to giving lectures in schools and universities, both here in his adopted home of Ireland and around the world, to educate people about the time.
It is, Tomi tells me, his way of honouring those lost during this horrific moment in modern history and making sure that such atrocities never happen again.
There is a poignant contrast as we sit in his beautiful south Dublin home, surrounded by the scent of freshly baked scones and carrot cake to talk about Tomi's traumatic childhood memories - the fear, the starvation, the overcrowding, how he, his brother and his cousin would play innocently amongst the thousands of rotting corpses outside.
Tomi was just nine years old when he was deported alongside five of his family members from his native Slovakia to the Bergen-Belsen concentration camp in 1944.
"I think I owe it to the victims that their memory is not forgotten," Tomi explains. "Sometimes when the young people hear it from teachers, it might go in one ear and out the other, but when they hear me, they never forget about it because they are seeing somebody who has been a part of that history," he smiles gently.
"I lost 35 members of my family, people that I knew," Tomi pauses. "One day they disappeared and I never saw them again, so for me, it is very important that I speak about it."
However, it took many decades before Tomi could open up and speak about his ordeal. "It took over 55 years until I actually started to speak about it and now they cannot stop me," he jokes. "It is not that I didn't want to before, I just could not do it."
Tomi's family were arrested late in the Nazi campaign - at first Slovakia was simply a friendly nation to Hitler's regime and, as a farmer, Tomi's father was deemed too valuable to the Slovakian economy to be sent, like many other Slovak Jews, to the Nazi work and extermination camps.
This changed, however, once German troops began to occupy Slovakia.
"In 1942, because my father was a farmer and was useful to the economy, we got a special document so that, for the time being, we shouldn't be taken away," Tomi tells me. "When Slovakia was occupied by Germany, of course, then no paper was useful. We tried to escape and we tried to hide, but we were betrayed."
"They used to do a selection process where the young men and women went to the right and the children, mothers and old people to the left," Tomi explains. "In seconds, families were split, the young men and women who were able to work were sent to slave labour and the others they were sent to the extermination camps."
Tomi was transported alongside his mother, brother, grandmother, aunt and cousin in a cattle-cart, which was originally bound for Auschwitz, but was rerouted to Bergen-Belsen.

Tomi Reichental

"The German soldiers got word that they were to retreat from the west to the east because the Russians were advancing. We were on the train at this time; so we were the first transport that didn't go to Auschwitz. If we had been arrested at the beginning of October, I wouldn't be here," Tomi trails off.
He remembers being shielded from much of what was happening during those years by his family, but once he reached Bergen-Belsen, - despite the efforts of his mother, aunt and grandmother - the desperation of their situation became apparent to him, even as a child of nine.
"When it all started in 1942, I had just really started school. The first time I knew that I was different was when I had to wear the yellow star. I was going to school and kids started to shout at me 'dirty Jew, smelly Jew' and all of this," Tomi says.
"My mother was really an extraordinary person. In the worst times, she always smiled and she was the power behind us.
"My mother also survived and she had a good life. She died only 12 years ago; she was 96 years old, she was really the pillar of strength in our hour of despair.
In his younger days with his mum and older brother

"She would never show that we were in trouble. She tried to keep it away from me, but, of course, I was there and saw it."
A couple of months before the Allied Forces liberated the Bergen-Belsen camp, thousands of inmates were moved there from Auschwitz. As a result, the numbers in the already overcrowded camp swelled and disease was rampant. Death and dying was a part of everyday life.
Tomi's grandmother Rosalia passed away just weeks before they were liberated.
"They just came into the room and they picked her up, one by the arms and one by the legs, threw her onto a cart, then she was wheeled out and thrown onto the pile of corpses outside," Tomi remembers.
"We were liberated on April 15. I remember that day very well. It was just an ordinary day, sunny outside. On April 11, we didn't see any guards in the watchtower, they escaped, but still nobody dared to go out, even though the gate was open. We didn't know what was happening, we were afraid."
"There was no food or water for four days," Tomi adds. "Then on the afternoon of the 15th, we heard this rumbling through the camp and we all ran to the barbed wire to see what was happening and we saw jeeps were coming in.
"There was no jubilation. We had smiles on our faces, but 90pc of the people in Bergen-Belsen were sick. People just stood, they were scared, they had no strength, they were dying most of them."
Following a number of months in quarantine, Tomi and his family returned to Slovakia where they were reunited with his father. Tomi's father had been arrested separately and escaped by jumping from a train bound for Auchswitz with a number of others.
According to Tomi, however, the welcome for Jewish people in Slovakia after the war was not a warm one.
"The atmosphere for Jewish people in Slovakia was not very good," Tomi says. "Because of the propaganda the Slovak people had experienced, they still hated the Jews. They used to whisper around that more Jews were coming back than were taken away. It wasn't our home anymore."
After school, Tomi travelled to the newly formed state of Israel, where he joined the Israeli Army. His parents and brother Miki, who was finishing his university studies in engineering, followed a short time later. Tomi was discharged from the army after his two years of service, but was called as a member of the reserve forces in 1956 during Israel's Suez campaign.
"It was tough. I saw a lot of terrible things during that time," Tomi says. "After that, I wanted to study engineering so I decided to go to university in Germany."
While in Germany, a cousin of Tomi's, who was working in London as an au pair, recommended Tomi to her boss, a major industrialist, who was looking for someone to set up a zip manufacturing company in Ireland. Tomi was flown to London and subsequently offered the job.
"That's how I came to Ireland. In 1960, I met a girl and in June, 1961, we married," he smiles.
Tomi and his wife Evanne Blackman left Ireland for Israel a short time later, where his eldest son was born. However, after a number of pleading letters from Evanne's father, the couple returned to Dublin where Tomi took over his father-in-law's jewellery manufacturing business.
"I had started a factory in Israel with my brother, which developed into a huge manufacturing company for tools for the woodworking industry, but eventually I relented and we came back," he smiles. "We were very happy. Unfortunately, my wife got cancer in 2003 and within 14 months, she died," Tomi adds. "I have three sons and six grandchildren."
Tomi has found happiness once again with his partner of nine years, Joyce Weinrib. Last year, he received the International Person of the Year Award and later this month, he will accept an honorary doctorate from the National University of Ireland in Maynooth. In fact, Tomi's home is adorned with many honours and awards, some more modest than others, but all appreciated most sincerely by their recipient.
In January 2008, RTE broadcast a one-hour documentary on Tomi's life entitled I was a boy in Belsen, produced by Gerry Gregg. In 2011, Gregg produced a second film, Close to Evil, which followed Tomi's quest to meet one of his alleged former jailers - Hilde Lisiewicz, who it transpired was alive and living in Hamburg.
After the film was broadcast, a German man named Hans-Jürgen Brennecke filed charges against the 93-year-old woman, which caused prosecutors there to open an investigation into allegations that Hilde served as a Nazi SS guard. Tomi had hoped that the documentary could be "an opportunity for reconciliation", but Hilde refused to meet with him.
"I don't want to see her going to prison," he tells me. "It's too late; she is 93 years old, but for me, it is very important that a conviction comes out of it if she is sent to trial and found guilty, from a moral point of view."
Nominations are being accepted for the 2015 People of the Year until September 14. For more information, see


martes, 11 de agosto de 2015

Holocaust survivor Eva Kor: Nazi’s hug just ‘kindness’

To Eva Kor, it was a fleeting embrace. But to the world, it became a much more polarizing and defining moment.That’s not to say Eva, a Holocaust survivor subjected to Dr. Josef Mengele’s cruel experiments on twins, doesn’t understand the global reaction of awe and disgust. After all, the man who hugged and kissed her this spring was Oskar Gröning, the “accountant of Auschwitz.”
But for Eva, it was a simple act of kindness offered by a feeble old man. And she accepted.
She’d long ago forgiven the Nazis, Mengele, even Adolf Hitler.
And Groening.
“It was one of those meetings between two worlds that at one time would have not been possible,” she said of her encounter with Gröning in a German courtroom during his April trial. “And 70 years later I definitely sensed in that touch and in that hug and in that kiss that he was very sorry for what happened.”
Whatever anyone else thinks of the embrace, she’s grateful for it.
“Because of his grabbing and hugging me, people became interested in the story,” she said.
Eva has told that story countless times at the CANDLES Holocaust Museum and Education Center in Terre Haute. To schoolchildren. To retirees. To vacationers who stumble upon the museum in the brick building on South Third Street near the Tromp and Tread Boot Plaza and Station Break, where customers can get a 10-minute oil change.
The story begins more than three-quarters of a century ago in Portz, Romania, a tiny village where Eva and her family were the only Jews. At 81, Eva still remembers when Hungarian Nazis took over the one-room schoolhouse designed to teach peasant children like her and her twin sister, Miriam.
“We had two new teachers who were very dedicated to teaching hatred against Jews,” she said. “Everything was involved in how to catch, kill Jews. A book had a math problem. It said: ‘If you have five Jews and you kill three, how many are left?’ So that is the way I started arithmetic in school.”
Because the twins were Jewish, the other students hit them and spat on them. Their teacher refused to help. Instead, she threw corn on the floor and forced Eva and Miriam to kneel on it for an hour while the other children taunted them. Eva hoped her mother would straighten things out.
“To my great surprise and disappointment,” Eva recalled, “my mother hugged us, kissed us and cried with us but said, ‘Children, there is nothing I can do. You have to learn that we are Jews, and you have to learn to take it.’ ”
At night, their father, a devoutly religious man, told his daughters to pray. “Don’t worry,” Eva said he told them. “Pray to God, and God is going to help us.”
As time went on, though, things got worse. Every six months a new law aimed at Jews was passed. In 1942, she said, Jews could no longer travel without a special permit. And they could hire only other Jews, a troublesome turn for a Jewish family in an all-Christian village. When her mother got sick, Eva’s father asked for a permit to go to the city to hire a Jewish woman to help with the farm.
The permit was denied.
Even at 8 years old, Eva felt the danger coming and told her father.
“I said to daddy, ‘It’s time to escape … and my father said, ‘Eva, you do not understand. You are a little girl. You’re only 8 years old. We have a nice home here. We have plenty of food. You children go to school. … The Germans won’t come to this tiny village to pick up six Jews.’ ”
He was wrong.
In March 1944, two Hungarian gendarmes carrying out German orders came to the Mozes home and took them to a regional ghetto where they stayed for about two and a half months. During the last week of May, soldiers loaded them into packed cattle cars, saying they were going to a labor camp in Hungary.
There was no room to sit. They leaned against each other, sweltering hot, with no supplies. The train stopped only to refuel. At each stop, the adults asked the guard holding a machine gun for water, and the same answer came back each time: “Five gold watches.”
The grown-ups would gather the watches and pass them through the tiny barbed-wire windows atop the cattle car. Then the guard would throw a bucket of water through the window. Eva put a cup over her head but never caught more than a few drops.

On the third day in the cattle car, when the adults asked for water, the answer came back not in Hungarian, but German.
“I was 10 years old,” Eva said. “I instantly understood what happened.”
The Jews were not being taken to a Hungarian labor camp. They had crossed into Germany and would soon be murdered.
Eight hours later, at the next stop, the request for water went unanswered. Germans yelled orders. The prisoners could hear dogs barking. Finally, the cattle car doors opened and thousands of people poured out onto a small strip called the selection platform.
Eva looked around and thought to herself: What on earth is this place?
Eva and Miriam’s mother tightly grabbed their hands, hoping that as long as she held on, she could protect them. Eva quickly realized that her father and older sisters had disappeared into the crowd.
Suddenly, an SS guard yelled in German. Zwillinge, Zwillinge! He was looking for twins and stared keenly at Eva and Miriam. He demanded to know: Are they twins?
“Is that good?” Eva remembered her mother asking. The Nazi nodded. Then an officer whisked Eva and her sister in one direction and their mother the opposite.
“We were crying,” Eva said. “She was crying. And all I really remember is seeing her arms stretched out in despair as she was pulled away. I never even got to say goodbye to her. And all that took 30 minutes from the time we stepped down from the cattle car. Miriam and I no longer had a family. We were all alone, and we had no idea what would become of us.”
Becoming a ‘Mengele Twin’

Eva doesn’t remember Gröning, the SS officer in his 20s, the so-called “accountant of Auschwitz” who would in July 2015 be convicted of 300,000 counts of accessory to murder and sentenced to four years in prison. But he was there.
By his own testimony, Gröning kept watch and searched the luggage of thousands of Jews led to the gas chambers. He counted money he found and sent it to the SS office in Berlin. He knew from his first night at the camp what was happening. He heard it from other SS officers. Obedience, he told the German court, prevented him from defying the daily atrocities.
“In September 1944 we were told that the next day we would participate in the eviction and extermination of the residents of a Ghetto,” he told the court in German. “It dawned on me that for the first time I would have to participate in the killings. It was something I could not do.
“I stayed away from the barracks that night so I wouldn’t get the order to clear the Ghetto, but that would have consequences. The command staff had already moved out – without me. From that point it was clear that I couldn’t deny direct participation in the killings. That triggered my third and final application for transfer to the front – which finally came in October, 1944.”
From Eva and Miriam, much more would be taken.
After sitting naked most of the day after their arrival, the twins were processed at Auschwitz. They were given short haircuts and tattoos. Eva became A-7063, her sister A-7064.
They marched through camp to a wooden, modular horse barn, filthy and crude with rows of bunk beds. Eva was afraid of the rats, so she and her sister went to the latrine. There they found the scattered corpses of three children.
“So right then and there I made a silent pledge that I would do anything and everything within my power to make sure that Miriam and I shall not end up on that filthy latrine floor,” Eva said.
She never told anyone, not even Miriam. Her thoughts turned inward.
How to sleep?
How to get more food?
Because their food was just enough to starve to death. No more than 300 calories a day. Breakfast was lukewarm, brownish liquid. Lunch, if they were in the barracks, looked like cream of wheat but was impossible to swallow. At night, they got a piece of very dark bread about two inches long. Hunger was constant, relentless. They could not escape it.
“It was never over,” Eva said. “It was never, ever over.”
Eva didn’t once contemplate the fate of her parents or siblings, or give it a thought if she walked over a dead body. Older people told her: If you cry, you die. And she believed them.
“The mind cannot concentrate on death and living at the same time,” she said.
The instinct to survive eclipsed everything, even the experiments run by Mengele, known as Todesengel, the angel of death.
Eva and Miriam were part of a group of twin girls ages 2 to 16. On Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays they were placed in a room naked for up to eight hours. Nazi doctors measured every part of Eva’s body and compared the results to Miriam’s and to charts. Mengele hoped to find a way to engineer a perfect race.
“These experiments weren’t dangerous, but for eight hours a day?” Eva recalled. “I felt like I was nothing more than a living piece of meat.”
On Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays came the “blood lab experiments.”

“They would take us to a lab, tie both of my arms to restrict the blood flow, take a lot of blood from my left arm and give me a minimum of five injections into my right arm,” she said. “... The rumor was that they were germs, diseases and drugs.”
One made her extremely ill. She had a fever of 106 degrees. Both arms and legs were painfully swollen, and huge red spots covered her body. Nazi doctors measured her fever and took her to the hospital, where Eva thought people looked more dead than alive.
The next morning, the Todesengel came in with four other doctors. Mengele looked at her fever chart and laughed. “Too bad,” Eva remembers him saying. “She’s so young. She has only two weeks to live.”
Eva knew he was right, but she refused to die. She made a second silent pledge to prove him wrong.
Eva has one memory of the following two weeks as her fever held on. She was crawling on the barracks floor to reach a water faucet, repeating as she faded in and out of consciousness: I must survive. I must survive.
Eva’s fever finally broke, and she began to feel a bit stronger. Eventually she was reunited with Miriam. If Eva had died, Miriam would have been killed by an injection to the heart, and Mengele would have performed comparative autopsies.
To this day, Eva has scant information about the experiments the Nazis performed on her and Miriam. She has only three documents, one that shows throat smears for scarlet fever, another of blood samples “for the examination of syphilis” and a third of blood samples for “the examination of urea nitrogen, sodium chloride, Takata-Ara and Vitamin C.”
On Jan. 27, 1945, the Soviet Army liberated Auschwitz, and the Mozes twins walked out of the camp together. Eva had kept her silent pledge.
Seeking answers, finding forgiveness
After liberation, the sisters lived in Romania for five years before emigrating to Israel in 1950. They went to an agricultural school and were then drafted into the Israeli Army. Miriam became a nurse, and Eva went into the engineering corps.
Eva met Michael Kor, a Holocaust survivor and American tourist. In 1960, they married in Tel Aviv, and Eva joined him in the United States. In 1965, Eva became a U.S. citizen. They raised two children.

Miriam also married and had children but developed kidney infections that didn’t respond to antibiotics. Her kidneys had never grown larger than a 10-year-old’s. Eva gave Miriam one of her kidneys in 1987, but Miriam died of cancer in 1993.
That same year Eva was invited to lecture in Boston and was asked if she could bring a Nazi doctor with her. She contacted Hans Münch, a physician at Auschwitz who’d known Mengele. She’d seen him in a documentary. He agreed to meet her in Germany. Though he didn’t know anything about the twin experiments, he shared details about the gas chambers. Eva asked him to join her at Auschwitz and sign a document attesting to what he’d seen — the selections and gassing of thousands of people. He agreed.
Eva wanted to find a meaningful thank-you gift for him and settled on the idea of a forgiveness letter. A friend challenged her to forgive Mengele, too. When she and Münch stood at the ruins of the gas chambers on the 50th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz and read their statements, Eva felt unburdened. Forgiveness wasn’t about the perpetrators. It was about healing herself.
That’s why she assigned little meaning to the moment with Gröning in the courtroom. He had expressed remorse for his actions.
"I have consciously not asked forgiveness for my guilt,” Gröning said in German. “In the face of the crimes committed in Auschwitz and elsewhere, I am not entitled to make such a request. For absolution, I can only turn to God.”
Eva wanted to thank him for accepting responsibility for his part in the Auschwitz killing machine and plead with him to talk to neo-Nazis, Holocaust deniers and revisionists because he’d been there.
And then came the embrace.
Now Eva would like to meet Gröning again, this time privately. She has many questions. What was it like to be a Nazi at Auschwitz? How did he cope knowing so many people were being murdered? Did he drink at night? Does he know anything about the experiments? The gas chambers?
At her age, Eva realizes she may go to her grave without all the answers. But she’ll keep looking.
In the meantime, she’ll repeat her story again and again. To a German film crew. To a British documentarian. To the line of visitors waiting at her museum in Terre Haute.
I was born in a very small village in Transylvania, Romania ... I made a silent pledge ...
I survived.