Holocaust survivor and forgiveness advocate, Eva Kor, passed away Thursday at the age of 85. She was known for opening the Candles Holocaust museum in Indiana and for sharing her personal experience at the Auschwitz concentration camp.
A plaque hangs at Custer County District High School in honor of holocaust survivor, Eva Kor, commemorating her visit to the community two years ago.
Over the years, the 85-year-old openly shared her personal experience at Auschwitz, with people all over the world. Kor was taken to the notorious camp in nazi-occupied Poland when she was just ten years old. Her parents and two sisters were killed there, but Kor and her twin sister were subjected to human experiments performed by doctor Josef Mengele, known as the "Angel of Death."
Eva has returned to the concentration camp numerous times following those dark days, most recently with a group from Montana as part of an educational trip. Part of the group is from Miles City.
"Our trip took place the last week of June," John Tooke said. "It is for our kids to get a first-hand experience on walking the ground of Auschwitz with the survivor."
John Tooke led the group of about 100 people on the seven day trip to Poland, walking the grounds where unspeakable crimes against humanity occurred. McKinsey Jerrel was on that trip and was inspired by Eva's story and her gracious spirit.
"I absolutely loved Eva," Jerrel said. "She was so funny, she was super knowledgeable, she was willing to talk about anything, she was open, she answered any questions. I absolutely loved her and she's just an amazing person."
"She was extremely brave," Jazzmin Watson said. "I just couldn't believe how strong and brave she was even after going through what she went through and still having the ability to share her stories."
Jazzmin Watson is another member of the group. She said Eva spent her life advocating a message of overcoming tragedy, of healing, and the importance of forgiveness. Messages that have left a life-long impression on Watson.
"I think it motivates me and inspires me to kind of do the same, because with everything she went through, she was able to forgive and move on, but not forget," Watson said. "So that just inspires me to do the same."
Avery Hansen was on a similar trip last year and is still impacted by her experience, taking it all in, alongside Eva.
"Eva also has been a huge advocate for kindness, as well as, something that she really implements into everything, but one of the things that isn't really highlighted through her story is just her love and her will for life," Hansen said. "She told me, she was like, 'you know, you just gotta go through life and you gotta enjoy it, you gotta take chances and live while you can and just live a good ife because you don't live forever' and I think that really stuck with me."
Those KULR-8 spoke with are just a few of the countless people whose lives have been forever touched, and in some cases, even changed by Eva.
She was a living example of the message she delivered time and time again, encouraging others to offer forgiveness as a way to find true healing and inner peace.
"Hopefully, Eva is in peace and living her life and getting to visit her family after 75 years for the first time," Watson said.