For some, myself included, forgiveness is a difficult topic. It is much easier to forget, and pretend nothing really happened, than to forgive. Instead of forgiving someone and having a neutral friendship, you exchange death glares every time you pass them in the hallway. A couple years ago, I had a nasty fight with my “friends”. They were my only friends in middle school; they were the only people I really had to talk to. Everything changed when we got to Sophomore year of high school. After a petty argument, they decided to cut me out of their lives without warning. Everything I had seemed to be ripped from me. I felt like I was just this disposable person. I felt like my only purpose was to be used, and when I couldn’t give any more, I was thrown out. It’s been a hard couple of years because of that. I don’t have any close friends anymore because I’m deathly afraid that something like that would happen again. I don’t ever want to go through something like that again. I’ve been trying to find something in me that will give me the strength to forgive them.
My sister is a history nerd. She likes learning about WWII-era things. She showed me a story about a woman named Eva Kor. This story opened my eyes up about forgiveness.
Eva was taken from her home in Transylvania, Romania to the Auschwitz concentration camp. When she arrived, she was torn apart from her father and older siblings; she never saw them again. She heard a Nazi yelling, “Twins! Twins! Twins!” A Nazi asked her mom if Eva and her sister were twins. Her mom asked if that was a good thing, and the Nazi said yes. Their mother then replied with a yes. At that moment, Eva and her twin were torn apart from their mother. They never saw her again. In Auschwitz, there was an infamous doctor named Dr. Mengele; he did a lot of experiments on twins. He was also known as the “Angel of Death”. Dr. Mengele would take blood samples from Eva and her sister about three times a week. Eva recalls that one day, after blood was taken from her, he gave her a series of unknown injections. To this day, they do not know what was put into her body. Eva then became very ill. She was told she had two weeks to live. Five weeks later, she was better. She went and talked with her sister. Her sister went through the same things. Her sister also refused to talk about it for forty years. Later on in life, Eva’s sister had complications with her pregnancies. After her kidney failure, an x-ray showed that her kidneys never grew bigger than the size of a ten year old’s kidneys. Eva donated one of her kidneys, “I had two kidneys and one sister; it wasn’t a hard choice.” Her sister died a few years after that from cancer that came from those unknown injections from Auschwitz.
Eva was asked to give a speech. She asked if she could bring a Nazi doctor with her, but the doctor denied the offer. Instead, he invited her to his home in Germany. There, he signed a document stating that he worked the gas chambers. His job was to wait and watch the people in the gas chamber suffer until they died. After they died, he wrote one death certificate with no names on it. While Eva was at his home she decided to write him a letter of forgiveness. She forgave him for his awful crimes. She said she felt free from Auschwitz after fifty years. A few years later, she worked up the nerve to forgive the doctor that did the experiments on her, her twin sister, and thousands of other twins. She forgave Dr. Mengele even after having a hand in her sister’s death. She was tired of being a prisoner of Auschwitz, “We cannot change what happened…,but we can change how we relate to it.”
Eva wrote a book on what she went through and witnessed in Auschwitz called Surviving the Angel of Death.
Her story makes every grudge I’ve ever held against a person feel petty and small. I learned from her story that in order to be happy and free from the thing that put you through hell, you have to forgive them. You can’t carry around this built up hate and anger forever. You have to let go, be the better person, and forgive.
Eva’s interview: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gdgPAetNY5U