For­give­ness: The Sto­ry of Eva Kor, Sur­vivor of The Auschwitz Twin Experiments

Joe Lee

  • Review
By – January 24, 2022

Eva Kor’s sto­ry of sur­vival as one of the twins tor­tured by the noto­ri­ous Dr. Josef Men­gele, togeth­er with her sis­ter Miri­am, is a heart­break­ing but a glow­ing tes­ta­ment to the abil­i­ty to over­come tragedy and turn it into a force for good.

Joe Lee’s book stands out for both its form as a graph­ic nov­el and its excep­tion­al account of Eva’s life. Eva had a care­free child­hood with her twin sis­ter Miri­am before they were both sub­ject­ed to Mengele’s cru­el, manip­u­la­tive exper­i­ments at Auschwitz. Through both art and nar­ra­tive, Lee poignant­ly depicts her growth into adult­hood and her increas­ing real­iza­tion of her life’s new pur­pose of shar­ing the sto­ry of her and Miriam’s lives. The illus­tra­tions are strik­ing and evoca­tive, reveal­ing the char­ac­ters’ emo­tions with pre­cise detail. Her and Miriam’s even­tu­al estab­lish­ment of CAN­DLES, an orga­ni­za­tion deter­mined to bring the lives of child sur­vivors of the Auschwitz med­ical exper­i­ments to the world’s atten­tion, is also por­trayed through remark­able imagery. This is graph­ic non­fic­tion at its best.

Lee’s book is a superb exam­ple of Holo­caust lit­er­a­ture suit­ed to read­ers of all ages. The nar­ra­tive accom­pa­ny­ing each image is sim­ple but com­pre­hen­sive, reveal­ing not only Eva and Miriam’s sto­ry, but also the back­ground ofthe Nazi party’s rise to pow­er and the Holo­caust. This is a care­ful­ly sit­u­at­ed sto­ry, allow­ing the read­er to grasp some of the com­plex­i­ty of the Holo­caust in the con­text of World War II and its after­math. It is also a depic­tion of life for the few chil­dren who sur­vived, usu­al­ly as orphans, and who strug­gled to find wel­com­ing and sta­ble homes.

Eva’s mes­sage of for­give­ness, despite the most hor­rif­ic expe­ri­ences that she and her sis­ter lived through, helps those who can to move for­ward from the dev­as­tat­ing time of the Shoah. For­give­ness requires accep­tance of the harsh real­i­ties of the Holo­caust and its after­math, and the abil­i­ty to move beyond these mem­o­ries to embrace the world and offer hope and mean­ing for those who can for­give the perpetrators.

Eva did not give in to her oppres­sors. She fought to sur­vive, resist­ing the Nazi’s worst inten­tions, and she lived to share her sto­ry with future gen­er­a­tions. As Lee, and Eva, tell, Eva’s father would have pre­ferred a boy when his twin girls were born. Read­ing this book, in its pow­er­ful por­tray­al of Eva’s remark­able life, I imag­ine that any father would have been immense­ly proud of a daugh­ter like Eva. Through her life’s work, ensur­ing that gen­er­a­tions to fol­low will always remem­ber these events, Eva stood up to the Nazis and then the world. Joe Lee’s book does superb jus­tice to this remark­able woman, keep­ing Eva’s inspir­ing sto­ry, and spir­it, alive.

Dr. Bev­er­ley Chalmers’s research focus­es on the repro­duc­tive life of women in dif­fi­cult cir­cum­stances. Her book Birth, Sex and Abuse: Women’s Voic­es under Nazi Rule was award­ed a Nation­al Jew­ish Book Award in Women’s Stud­ies, a Cana­di­an Nation­al Jew­ish Book Award for Holo­caust Lit­er­a­ture, and a CHOICE Out­stand­ing Aca­d­e­m­ic Title award.

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