Below are the remarks by Dr. Alex Kor, son of Eva Kor, on March 10, 2022. Dr. Kor spoke at a special event at the Indiana Historical Society to celebrate the opening of IHS’s newest exhibits — Eva Kor from Auschwitz to Indiana and Dimensions in Testimony. Both exhibits run through January 2024.
Good evening! Thank you, Jody.
Growing up in Terre Haute to two parents who survived the Holocaust, NEVER in a million years would I have dreamed that this incredible exhibit would have been possible. Being the son of Eva and Mickey Kor was actually NOT always so easy. In fact, as a teenager, I was very ashamed of my parents, especially my mother. Whether, it was at a PTA meeting or at one of my basketball games or at the grocery store, at times, I was embarrassed. I once asked her, “Why can’t you be like the other moms?” Now, today, I look to the heavens and say, “Mom, I am so glad that you were NOT like the other moms.”
Over the years, I learned that while “other moms” might hesitate to re-live painful experiences, my mom returned to Auschwitz more than 20 times in an effort to teach the world about her experiences. While “other moms” might take a vacation to Florida or Hawaii for a week, my mom would fly to California to give a speech in the morning and be back in Terre Haute that evening because she had obligations the following day at CANDLES. While “other moms” might not want to rock the boat, my mom, as a trailblazer, was the captain of her own ship. And those waters were not always calm. “Other moms” would likely retire at a reasonable age whereas my mother was working until her death at the age of 85.
You might ask: Why? What was her purpose? I often asked why? In fact, 2 nights before her passing, we were hanging out in our hotel room in Krakow, Poland (during our annual trip to Auschwitz). I said, “Mom, when do you think that you might slow down, a little bit? You are not getting any younger.” She looked at me like I was crazy, and said, “Slow down, what are you talking about? I have a lot of work still to do!”
Since 7/4/2019, the world has changed a lot and, sadly, in some ways it has not changed at all. We have experienced civil unrest throughout our country. Anti-Semitism continues to rear its ugly head. Teachers, whose talents should be treasured, are being challenged by state legislators throughout the country. And, most notably, the world is on the brink of a World War. Unfortunately, my mom was right; we all have a lot of work to do. In attempting to solve some of society’s problems, my mom would demand that we show more respect toward our fellow man; simply tolerating someone is not enough. In addition, she would tell the world that we all need to prevent prejudice by judging people only on their actions and content of their character (not their skin color, not their religion, not their race). Unfortunately, we have much work to do.
This work that my mom mentioned in July 2019 is my mom’s legacy. In her memory, I challenge all of you to learn my mom’s story, her life lessons, and the impact that she made on the world. Moving forward, it is my hope that her legacy will live on in the hearts and minds of children for generations to come. In addition, I suggest that my mom’s story can be used to motivate any person (regardless of religion or race or demographics) to overcome adversity and persevere.
So, now, on March 10th, 2022, we have a new opportunity (here in Indianapolis) to learn about my mom and to continue to do her important work: “Eva Kor From Auschwitz to Indiana”. Obviously, I have many people to thank. First and foremost, I owe a significant amount of gratitude to Ted Green, Ted Green Films and WFYI. Without the documentary and Ted’s many hours of hard work, none of this would have happened. Other members of “Team Eva” and WFYI that deserve special mention are Dr. John Abrams, Jessica Chapman, Epha Riche, Andy Klotz, Peggy Tierney, Beth Nairn, Lloyd Wright, Clayton Taylor, and of course Graham Honaker. Here at the Indiana Historical Society, I would like to thank Jody Blankenship, Danny Gonzalez, Tiffany Whisner, Amy Lamb, Kay Fetters, Suzanne Hahn, Jeff Mills, Dan Shockley, and Jeff Matsuoka. CANDLES Holocaust Museum Education in concert with the USC Shoah Project donated the Dimensions in Testimony and I am very grateful. In particular, I would like to specifically thank the new Executive Director of CANDLES, Troy Fears, who has been a pleasure to work with since he started last summer. And, finally, I would like to thank all donors and all sponsors. Without your generosity, this dream would have remained just that, a dream.
In conclusion, at the close of the award-winning documentary by Ted Green Films & WFYI, “Eva: A -7063”, while looking to the Heavens, my mom, speaks to her mother, and says,
“Mom, I will tell your story. I hope that you are proud of me”. Today, with this exhibit at the Indiana Historical Society and the DiT, I again look to the heavens and say “Mom, WE will tell your story! I hope that you are proud of us.”