Clad in her iconic blue pant suit with matching scarf and shoes, Eva Kor will be educating people about the Holocaust for generations to come thanks to a new interactive exhibit.
Visitors to Terre Haute’s CANDLES Holocaust Museum and Education Center, which Kor founded, need only ask a question and she will answer it via high definition video.
Inquire about her favorite song and the Auschwitz death camp survivor will launch into “The Impossible Dream.”
The “Dimensions in Testimony” theater exhibit unveiled Sunday is the result of a partnership between CANDLES and the Shoah Foundation at the University of Southern California.
Hollywood filmaker Steven Spielberg helped finance the foundation following his production of “Schindler’s List,” the 1993 epic about German businessman Oskar Schindler, who saved the lives of more than one thousand Jews by hiring them to work in his factories during World War II.
The exhibit relies on a searchable database of interviews with Kor and 11 other Holocaust survivors and is the first of its kind in the world, according to CANDLES and Shoah staff.
“We’ve been partnering with (the Shoah Foundation) over the past three years to create an interactive experience for visitors to learn about stories like that of Eva Kor long after the survivors are no longer with us,” said Dorothy Chambers, executive director at CANDLES.
Kor, now 85, was 10 when she lost her parents in a Nazi extermination camp and she and her twin sister, Miriam, were subjected to experiments at Auschwitz at the hands of Dr. Joseph Mengele.
The exhibit includes an introductory exhibit called “My Story Matters,” in which visitors are urged to describe their own stories, how they define themselves and bring people into their world.
“Our hope is that by … encouraging people to think of those things they can then connect well with the survivors’ testimonies when they go into the theater,” Chambers said.
When CANDLES moves to a new location on Wabash Avenue in a few years, Kor and other Holocaust survivors will appear via three-dimensional holographic images, she added.
The Shoah Foundation has built an archive of more than 65,000 audio-visual testimonies, each two to three hours long, of people such as Eva Kor discussing their experiences before, during and after the war, said Susan Popler, director of the foundation’s visual history program.
Spielberg’s hope in providing seed money for the foundation was that nothing like the Holocaust would happen again, she said.
Popler met Kor Sunday for the first time.
“Oh my gosh,” she said. “What a life force she is.”
It’s important for visitors to focus on the messages in the exhibit rather than the medium, Popler said.
“Technology is the thing that gets us to engage with it but really it’s about Eva and her stories and what her stories bring can to the future,” she said.
Watching and listening to Kor answer questions via high definition video gives visitors a glimpse of her personality, said Chambers.
“You leave here with a sense of what she’s like,” Chambers said.
Among the first to see the new exhibit was Terre Haute native Carla Gidorkis, whose father was a soldier in World War II.
“So many people try to, even now, say (the Holocaust) never happened and it did,” she said. “I hope it never happens again.”
Historian Pattie Gray of Carmel and her husband plan to travel to Poland with Kor this summer and made the trip to Terre Haute Sunday to gain new insight prior to the journey.
“I just wanted her to keep talking and talking and talking,” Gray said after sampling the exhibit. “It’s just really exiting.”
Dave Taylor can be reached at 812-231-4299 or email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter @TribStarDave.