Posted: Mar 6, 2013 7:41 AM by Dustin Klemann - Q2 News
Updated: Mar 6, 2013 10:20 AM
BILLINGS - Among the sea of people searching for an open seat, Eva Mozes Kor maneuvered through the crowd to deliver her message that packed a punch.
Kor's message? The power of forgiveness and how it transformed her ability to cope with her past.
She is one of 3000 twins to unwillingly occupy Auschwitz concentration camp; the same camp that only saw 200 of those twin survive the experiments Dr. Josef Mengele.
But it was Kor's silent pledge on the first day at Auschwitz that saved her and her twin sister's lives - do everything in her power not to end up dead.
She suffered through thorough body measurements, standing naked for the majority of the day as doctor's poked and prodded, only to compare findings to countless data charts. Only to keep her vow and survive the war with her sister Miriam.
Kor deftly explained her story through her Romanian accent to a standing-room only crowd at the West High School auditorium. Her story carried so much emotional weight, she balanced the lecture by injecting her humor. But even with humor, a steady stream of sniffles and gasps reacting to the atrocities filled the room.
Around 45 minutes into the lecture, Kor switched gears and observed the struggles and anger young children carry today. She pointed to her meeting in 1993 with Auschwitz physician Dr. Hans Münch, called "Good Man of Auschwitz". She admitted she was scared. But upon meeting Münch, his up most respect comforted Kor, providing pillow after pillow to make sure she was comfortable on the metal bench.
Münch later assisted Kor in the return to Auschwitz, a moment she used as act of self-healing. She had forgiven the Nazi's. She had forgiven Josef Mengele.
"I had the power to forgive. For mine to use. And no one can take that away," Kor said proudly.
Her speech garnered a standing ovation and Kor said she can feel the crowd's energy
"The reaction of the audience is so contagious. That you feel 'Wow, I can touch the life of one person.'"
It was only a matter of time until Eva Kor visited the Big Sky. Her presence is, in large part, thanks to Rob Stanton, History and Genocide teacher at West High School, and his "luck".
"It was kinda the old saying, 'It's not what you know, it's who you know,''" said Stanton. But Stanton is modest. In 2012, Stanton accompanied Eva to Poland where she admitted she had never visited Montana. "I knew we had to get her up here," smiled Stanton.
And from there, it snowballed. In January, Stanton organized a 5k run to help raise funds and awareness of Kor's imminent arrival.
"She's a special person with a special message. And I think when you have the opportunity to listen to someone like her, and unfortunately there aren't many people from the Holocaust around, so she is in our backyard and I think it is something very rewarding."
As she reflects her life and how she impacts anyone she talks to, she can't help but feel humbled.
"I am amazed. I think I am the luckiest Auschwitz survivor on the face of this earth," Kor said with a chuckle.
Her message is consistent; forgiveness is the most powerful tool in combating evil.
"It costs nothing, I always keep telling them forgiveness is free. Try it, it may change your life for the better forever."
Kor founded the organization CANDLES (Children of Auschwitz Nazi Deadly Lab Experiments Survivors) in 1984.
She also assisted in the documentary, Forgiving Dr. Mengele, detailing her life in Auschwitz