‘Bring a Nazi doctor with you when you come’

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A guard tower is seen beyond an area enclosed with barbed wire at the Auschwitz-Birkenau Memorial and State Museum in Oswiecim, Poland. Photo: CNS/Nancy Wiechec
A guard tower is seen beyond an area enclosed with barbed wire at the Auschwitz-Birkenau Memorial and State Museum in Oswiecim, Poland. Photo: CNS/Nancy Wiechec

At the age of 10 Eva Mozes and her sister Miriam were taken to Auschwitz concentration camp to be used as human guinea pigs in medical experiments conducted by the infamous Dr Josef Mengele.

Both survived, but Miriam died in 1993 when she developed cancer of the bladder due to the experiments done on her as a child.

It was only in 1978 that Eva felt free to speak publicly about her horrific experiences.

“Because we were twins”, she says, “we were used in a variety of experiments. Three times a week we’d be placed naked in a room, for 6-8 hours, to be measured and studied. It was unbelievably demeaning.”

In 1993 Eva was invited to lecture to some doctors in Boston, and they asked if she could bring along a Nazi doctor.

At first she dismissed this as a crazy request. But then she remembered a documentary she had seen featuring Dr Hans Munch from Auschwitz.

She contacted him in Germany and he agreed to meet her in order to make a video-taped interview for the conference. She was terrified to encounter him, but when she visited his home, he treated her with utmost respect.

She asked him if he had seen the gas chambers. He replied this was a nightmare he dealt with every day of his life. She took the risk of asking him whether he would come with her to Auschwitz to sign a document at the ruins of the gas chambers. He said he would love to do it. Eva decided to write a forgiveness letter as a gift for Dr Munch.

Then she was challenged by a friend to include Dr Mengele in the forgiveness letter as well.

At first she refused adamantly, but then realised she had the power to forgive. So on 27 January 1995, at the 50th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz, Eva and Dr Munch stood at the ruins of the gas chambers with Eva’s son and daughter, both medical doctors, and also Dr Munch’s children and grandchildren. Dr Munch signed his document about the operation of the gas chambers while Eva read her document of forgiveness and signed it.

She says, “As I did that I felt a burden of pain was lifted from me. I was no longer in the grip of pain and hate; I was finally free… Forgiveness is really nothing more than an act of self-healing and self-empowerment. I call it a miracle medicine. It is free, it works and has no side-effects.”

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