Image:flickr/Lars K Jensen

‘Forgiveness is a seed for peace’ – a review of ‘The Twins of Auschwitz’

Some of you may already know Eva Mozes Kor’s story from a viral Buzzfeed video posted in 2018 titled ‘I Survived The Holocaust Twin Experiments’, which now has over twenty three million views. However, I am here today to praise her emotional, heart-breaking yet extremely informative book, The Twins of Auschwitz, written by her and Lisa Rojany Buccieri. 

Eva Mozes Kor and her twin sister Miriam were born on January 31 1934 in Romania and were later subjected to human experimentation at the Auschwitz concentration camp in German-occupied Poland during World War II. These experiments were specifically conducted on twins by SS Doctor Josef Mengele, nicknamed the “Angel of Death”. Eva and Miriam’s parents and sisters were killed in the camp’s gas chambers, leaving them reliant on each other to stay alive and safe. Eva’s book follows her personal story of survival as she and her twin survive the horrors of Auschwitz at an incredibly young age.   

The first aspect of this book I’d like to praise is its first-person narrative. Having Eva bravely tell us her story through her eyes completely draws us into the world she had to live in and the atrocities she had to face during Mengele’s experiments. Her innocent yet courageous voice is powerful throughout and her determination to keep her twin sister alive is truly inspiring. At the beginning of the book where she describes arriving at Auschwitz in the train cars, her voice as a child is heart-breaking – “I held tightly to my twin sister’s hand as we were shoved onto the platform, not sure whether to be glad for our release or afraid of what was coming”. 

Another aspect of the book that will be hard for me to forget is how Eva expressed her feelings and emotions throughout. The horrors and traumatic events she and her sister were put through were truly horrific, and the bravery and courage Eva must have had to put it into words was touching to read about – “Toys were for children. I was eleven years old, but I no longer knew how to play”. Eva and many other children in Auschwitz had their childhood snatched away from them at such a young age, and it was absolutely devastating reading how Eva felt she had to grow up too early.  

What touched me the most about this book was Eva’s explanation of forgiveness. She describes it as a “power” which she can use to heal the decades of pain she suffered from the Holocaust.

Throughout the book, Eva includes a lot of photographs of her experience, which I found extremely informative. Pictures of her family before they were taken to the camp were especially moving – seeing the smiles on their faces truly broke me as, from my present-day perspective, I knew what would later happen to them. As she guides us through her personal story, pictures of Josef Mengele, the concentration camps, maps, Eva’s hometown, and other twins who were put through the experiments, really helped me understand what Eva went through on an extremely personal level. It is vital that books like these exist to educate and inform future generations, and how Eva structured her book made it very simple and clear to follow.  

The final part of the book that I would like to focus on is Eva’s epilogue, the Afterword by Peggy Tierney and the Author’s Note, all placed at the end of Eva’s story. After telling her truly inspiring story of survival, Eva’s epilogue explains her purpose in telling her tale. In 1984, she founded CANDLES (Children of Auschwitz Nazi Deadly Lab Experiments Survivors) where her and her sister located other survivors of the experiments and formed an organisation. In addition to this, Eva had been invited to do lectures in many schools and in the Holocaust Museum.  

What touched me the most about this book was Eva’s explanation of forgiveness. She describes it as a “power” which she can use to heal the decades of pain she suffered from the Holocaust. In a public statement on her forgiveness, Eva said, “Many people hold onto pain and anger. Unfortunately, this does not help the survivors, and this is my only focus. My forgiveness has nothing to do with the perpetrators. It is an act of self-healing, self-liberation, and self-empowerment. It’s free, it has no side effects, and it works. I highly recommend that everyone try it”.   

Eva Mozes Kor died in the early morning hours of July 4 2019 from health issues. She had been giving lectures, doing guided tours, accepting awards, and working away in the office in her museum days before she passed. In the words of Peggy Tierney: “if ever there was someone who could survive by sheer determination, it was Eva Kor.” 

The only thing I wanted more of from this book was Eva’s inspirational words. Being a very short book (only 240 pages), I finished it within two days. I would gladly read an 1000 page novel about Eva’s motivational speeches and the advice she has to give to other generations. However, I really appreciate the accessibility of this book – being so short, I wouldn’t be surprised if it became a compulsory text in all schools. Absolutely anyone can pick up this book and read it – and it will change you forever! 


4/5 stars 

Comments (1)

  • This book really touched me and your review of it is truly brilliant! Eva Mozes Kor is such an inspiration and everyone should learn a thing or two from her. 🙂

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