Students Meet Holocaust Survivor

by Katie McConnell | May 01, 2014

On April 17, Marian University German language students traveled to the CANDLES (Children of Auschwitz Nazi Deadly Lab Experiments Survivors) Museum, a Holocaust museum and education center in Terre Haute, Indiana.

“This trip is an aspect of ‘experiential learning’ since the students had the opportunity to speak with and interact with a survivor of the Holocaust. I am a believer in the human aspect of learning and this trip facilitated that,” said Wendy Westphal, Ph.D., assistant professor of German at Marian University and organizer of the trip.

Eva Kor, an Auschwitz concentration camp survivor, founded the museum in an effort to educate people on the Holocaust, specifically on Dr. Josef Mengele’s experiments on twins. At Auschwitz, Kor and her twin sister, Miriam, were subjects in the infamous doctor’s experiments. CANDLES holds photos, posters, documents, and artifacts from Kor’s personal story.

After touring, students had the opportunity to listen to Kor tell her story. She told the students about her time at Auschwitz, describing her experience as a “human guinea pig” for genetic experiments. She also told students about her time after Auschwitz, when she reunited with her sister and began searching for more of Mengele’s victims.

The message from Kor’s story goes beyond history. During her speech, Kor spoke about the importance of forgiveness. She told the audience that while she will never forget what the Nazis did, she was able to heal by forgiving them.

Because most of the Holocaust survivors have passed away or are unable to talk about their experiences, Kor’s speech was a unique opportunity for students to learn about history from someone who experienced it.

“Hearing about the Holocaust from those who actually lived through it, with all of the vivid little details that bring the cattle cars, the camps, the fear and inhumanity to life, was an absolutely incredible experience. I feel blessed to have been a part of the audience, and to take that experience with me as I pursue my education in history,” said sophomore Claire Crane.

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