Today is the 75th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz concentration camp in Poland, where hundreds of thousands of people were killed by the Nazis in the final years and months of World War II.
It is a solemn anniversary that calls for reflection and introspection. It is almost unfathomable what happened at that awful place. Yet it is so real.
The people of Terre Haute undoubtedly know more about Auschwitz and what went on there than most. And they have that knowledge and understand because of one person — Eva Mozes Kor, a European Jew who survived as a young girl, along with her twin sister Miriam, so that the infamous Nazi doctor Josef Mengele could conduct horrific experiments on the twins. The rest of girls' family perished in the Holocaust.
Eva immigrated to the United States after the war and settled in Terre Haute with her husband, Mickey, also a Holocaust survivor. They raised their family here, and Eva worked in the real estate business while evolving into a prominent spokesperson on behalf of Holocaust education and remembrance. She founded the CANDLES Holocaust Museum and Education Center, which opened in the mid-1990s.
Eva's reputation continued to grow as she led annual educational trips to Auschwitz for more than 20 years. Her life experiences were chronicled in the award-winning documentary, "Eva: A-7063," which is now part of an Eva Educational Toolkit that has been distributed to every middle school and high school in Indiana.
Eva died last summer in Krakow, Poland, while on one of her educational trips to Auschwitz. She was 85.
Indiana Gov. Eric Holcomb has declared today as “Eva Education Day” in honor of Eva Kor.
In Terre Haute, a "Candles for CANDLES" event is planned for this evening when as many windows as possible will be candle-lit throughout the night. It represents a collective show of support for the museum which Eva Kor founded.
This community was fortunate to have such great access to a person who grew to mean so much to so many people here and around the world. It is fitting that candles will glow tonight downtown. In the aftermath of Eva's death, Gov. Holcomb remembered her shining example.
"Everywhere she went,"Holcomb said, "Eva brought light into darkness."
Thanks to so many that she touched, Eva's message lives on, just as she would like it.