To make the history of World War II more real to them, Center Grove students were able to ask a Holocaust survivor questions about her time in a concentration camp, where she was used for experiments and testing.
Eighth-graders at Center Grove Middle School Central are reading “The Diary of Anne Frank” in their language arts class, and teacher Kalie Schmidt suggested the class interview a survivor of the Holocaust. Schmidt had been on a trip to Auschwitz with Eva Mozes Kor, 81, a survivor who runs the Children of Auschwitz Nazi Deadly Lab Experiments Survivors (CANDLES) Holocaust museum and education center and lives in Terre Haute.
Kor and her twin sister Miriam were separated from their family once they arrived at Auschwitz since they were twins and were experimented on to see how each twin reacted to different medicines. Out of the 3,000 children, between 180 to 250 made it out alive, she said. Kor started the Holocaust museum in Terre Haute in 1995, dedicated to the twins who were experimented on and injected with lethal drugs or bacteria.
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“It helps them relate to it a little bit more about what it’s like, and she’s living in Indiana, so that makes it a little bit more relevant to them,” Schmidt said.
Schmidt set up a Skype interview so students could talk to Kor before she goes to Germany this weekend. Last year, Kor lectured 176 times, and Monday’s Skype video chat with the Center Grove students was her 62nd interview so far in 2015, Kor said.
The Skype session was broadcast to all eighth-grade classrooms, but 10 students were selected to be on camera. Each had to write an essay to show why they should represent Center Grove, Schmidt said. Four of the 10 students were twins, so they in particular felt connected to Kor’s story, he said.
Kor and her sister spent nine months in Auschwitz before the camp was liberated in 1945. Kor was injected with an unknown liquid, and her legs bloated and she got red splotches all over her body. She was separated from her twin, and a Nazi doctor told Kor she would be dead in two weeks. If Kor died, her sister would have been killed so the doctors could compare the bodies, she said.
The experience was so harrowing that her sister Miriam did not discuss what happened while at Auschwitz until 1985, Kor said.
Kor talked to students about her life story, what she remembers from Auschwitz and how she eventually forgave all of the Nazi soldiers and doctors who had injected her with unknown substances, starved her and shot at her. That does not mean she absolves them of their actions during World War II, she said.
“Forgiveness has nothing to do with the perpetrator,” Kor said.