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Butler Magazine: Summer 2015

Eva Kor: "Never Give Up"

Eva Kor Butler University Spring Commencement Address 2015

Holocaust survivor Eva Kor told Butler University’s Class of 2015 that they should never give up on themselves or their dreams. 

Her son, Dr. Alex Kor ’83, stood by her side on stage for the May 9 Commencement ceremony and the extraordinary address that left few dry eyes in Hinkle Fieldhouse. 

“It was one of the most moving speeches and statements of firsthand knowledge of history I have ever heard,” said Gregory K. Silver, an Indianapolis attorney. “Although she and my family are Jewish, her alluding to present genocide in Darfur, Rwanda, Syria, and Iraq show us all that what she endured is continuing to happen today. We must all be aware of others’ misery.” 

Silver’s father was David M. Silver, Dean of Butler’s Liberal Arts and Sciences College for 45 years. 

Kor spent from May 1944 to January 27, 1945, in the Auschwitz concentration camp. She said she was able to endure excruciating experiments by Nazi Dr. Josef Mengele because she promised herself “to do anything and everything in my power” to make sure she and her sister, Miriam, survived. 

In her mind, she kept picturing how she and Miriam would look when they finally walked out of the camp. They dealt with rats, lice, and starvation—both of food and human kindness. She recalled one experiment where Mengele injected her multiple times and she ended up in a hospital. When he saw her there later, he said, “Too bad she’s so young. She only has two weeks to live.” 

“But I refused to die,” said Kor, who runs the CANDLES (Children of Auschwitz Nazi Deadly Lab Experiments Survivors) Holocaust Museum and Education Center in Terre Haute, Indiana. 

Kor said that in the years since, she learned to forgive the Nazis as well as “everyone who ever hurt me.” She told the story of writing a letter of forgiveness to a Nazi doctor 50 years after the liberation of Auschwitz, which she called “an act of self-healing and self-liberation.” 

“Fifty years of pain was lifted from my shoulders,” she said. 

On Thursday, October 22, Kor will return to campus to speak as part of the Butler University Diversity Lecture Series.