On 1/29/16, Mr. Ballard, Dr. Nelson, and Mr. Tsivourakis took Altamont's 6th graders to a lecture by Holocaust survivor Eva Mozes Kor. The timing was serendipitous; the students were just wrapping up the WWII unit in Ballard's and Nelson's history classes, so the content was fresh on their minds. Kor's visit, arranged jointly by the Birmingham Holocaust Education Center and St. Luke's Episcopal, is significant for several reasons.
Obviously, as a survivor of the definitive event in the 20th Century, hers is a story that should be told and retold to as many audiences as will listen. Her perspectives are valuable for posterity. But hers is also a unique story. She and her sister were among the many Mengele Twins at Auschwitz--pairs of twins that Dr. Mengele ruthlessly and relentlessly studied. Even though they enduring testing that left permanent damage, they were ultimately one of the few pairs of twins that actually survived when the camp was liberated by the Russians in '45.
The details of her life at Auschwitz were shocking and captivating, but it was her willingness to forgive that resonated the loudest. In what promises to be a rare moment in their lives, our students heard a message of love and forgiveness arising out of unspeakable horror. We all hear many narratives in our lives. This theme, in this context, is an anomaly.
Check out Kor's story in this small yet powerful book, Surviving the Angel of Death: The True Story of a Mengele Twin in Auschwitz.