Editor’s note: Filmmakers Ted Green and Mika Brown in collaboration with WFYI Public Media are producing a 60-minute version from the original footage for educational use. It will be shown for the first time this spring at the Indianapolis Central Library. Partnering with Teach Plus, the film will be shown for 400 educators on May 2 @ 5 p.m. Register for the May event.
Shakespeare tells us that all the world’s a stage where from birth to death everyone plays a part. Eva Mozes Kor could tell us that all the world’s a classroom where through history, we learn about good and evil and a lot about ourselves.
When Kor, an 84-year-old Holocaust survivor, tells her story in the new documentary, “Eva A-7063,” fittingly, she begins at school in Portz, Romania, the small town where she and her twin sister, Miriam, were born. Theirs was the only Jewish family in town.
The Terre Haute resident said students who had been friends began taunting and calling her a “dirty Jew.” Her teachers were of no help, and even made matters worse. On one occasion, Kor said her teacher in the one-room schoolhouse had strewn corn kernels in the corner of the room and forced the 10-year-old sisters to kneel on them. She then allowed the twins’ classmates to viciously spew their prejudices against Jews.
Kor’s story has been well-documented in Indiana. As her parents and two sisters died in concentration camps at the hands of the Nazis, Kor and her sister were subjected to medical experiments by Josef Mengele, the Nazi “angel of death.” Kor’s life, and other Holocaust victims, are chronicled at the CANDLES Holocaust Museum & Education Center in Terre Haute.
For decades, Kor harbored intense bitterness. She has since been able to forgive her tormentors and now wants young people to learn from her experiences.
In February, she spoke with third- and fourth-graders at the Peace Learning Center in Indianapolis. She was there to be inducted into the Peace Learning Center’s Wall of Peacemakers.
“Nine-, 10- and 11-year olds are the smartest kids in the world,” she said. When she asked if they knew about forgiveness, a hundred hands eagerly were raised.
She told them, “In my opinion, every single one of you is very powerful and you can change the world. Did you know that? So don’t ever let anybody tell you that you are just little children.”
Her lessons for these schoolchildren were simple: Never give up; treat people with respect; and forgive your worst enemy. It will heal you inside.
And what the kids took away was even more poignant.
Here’s what several students from IPS/Butler University Laboratory School took away.
“I could imagine, but I don’t want to because it’s like a personal narrative horror story,” said Charlie.
“It was powerful meeting someone who survived a camp where almost everybody died. I felt like I’m not an ordinary kid. I can change the world. I can do something special. When you forgive someone, they might just be kind,” said J.J.
“Why would you, I get why you forgive them, but that’s like a really, really hard decision,” said Owen.
Educator film and discussion guide
So it’s not surprising given Kor’s impact, that filmmakers Ted Green and Mika Brown in collaboration with WFYI Public Media are producing a 60-minute version from the original footage for educational use.
It will be shown for the first time this spring at the Indianapolis Central Library. Partnering with Teach Plus, the film will be shown for 400 educators on May 2 @ 5 p.m.
Similar to the educators’ guide for Kor’s book, “Surviving the Angel of Death,” WFYI is producing a similar guide to accompany “Eva A-7063,” intended to “provoke students and families to discuss discrimination and forgiveness.” The WFYI educator discussion guide will be distributed at this screening.
To register for the May event, go to: https://teachplus.tfaforms.net/327879
Kor believes in the power of children.
Part of her legacy is the work she did with Indiana state legislators Clyde Kersey and Tim Skinner. It resulted in the Indiana General Assembly passing a law (20-35-7) in 2007 that requires Holocaust education in secondary schools as part of U.S. history courses. The legislation also requires public schools to teach the importance of respecting the rights and value of others.
“In teaching about the Holocaust, I am telling the story of the past. But I am also telling them that there is hope after despair and each one of us can make a difference,” said Kor.
The newest film can serve as a tool for discussing history, the filmmakers’ hope is that the lessons will go further and “embolden youth to take steps that make a difference in their schools, neighborhoods, and the world.”
To register for the educator toolkit, click here: https://www.thestoryofeva.com/education/
Kor worries about the Parkland students in Florida after the recent school shooting there.
“They have pain too raw to understand. They have to heal. What do you do with all the pain? What does a victim do? One power is to forgive? With time they will be able to do that. They have that ability. Teach the skill of forgiveness,” she said.
The 120-minute documentary will air on WFYI television on Oct. 25 @ 8 p.m.