Auschwitz survivor Eva Mozes Kor, who with her twin sister was used for "genetic research" by Dr. Josef Mengele, will never forget that little piece of land called the "selection platform."
"No other strip of land on the face of the universe has seen so much heartache," Kor told hundreds gathered for Yom HaShoah Holocaust Remembrance Day services last Sunday.
Kor spoke at both Temple Beth Jacob in Redwood City and Peninsula Temple Sholom in Burlingame. Organized by the North Peninsula Region of the S.F.-based Jewish Community Feder-ation and the Peninsula regions of the Jewish Community Relations Council, the commemorations were co-sponsored by North and South Peninsula Jewish congregations and organizations.
The Hungarian-born Kor was just 10 years old when she was deported to Auschwitz in 1944. While her parents and older sisters were sent to the gas chambers, she and her twin sister, Miriam, were instead "selected" for Mengele's notorious and deadly medical experiments.
"As soon as we stepped down (from the platform) my mother grabbed us by the hand, as if trying to protect us. Everything was moving very fast, but as my sister and I were hauled away I can remember seeing my mother's arm…though I never did say good-bye," said Kor, holding back tears.
As part of a "special group used as human guinea pigs," Kor said, she and her sister were among 1,500 sets of twins subjected to a range of horrific experiments. Only 200 survived.
Kor recalled her own quick introduction to life at Auschwitz.
"The first time I went to use the latrine located at the end of the children's barrack, I was greeted by the scattered corpses of several children lying on the ground. I think that image will stay with me forever. It was there that I made a silent pledge — a vow to make sure that Miriam and I didn't end up on that filthy floor."
Despite being repeatedly injected with deadly germs and often going for weeks without food, Kor kept that promise of survival.
After the war, she and her sister emigrated to Israel, where they were raised by an aunt. Eva joined the Israeli Army in 1952 and became a sergeant major. Eventually, she married an American tourist and moved to Terre Haute, Ind., where she now lives.
In 1984 she organized CANDLES (Children of Auschwitz Nazi Deadly Lab Experiments Survivors), an international organization, Holocaust museum and educational center which focuses on the twins who survived Mengele's experiments.
Kor has since spread word of her organization through television appearances on "Oprah," "Good Morning America," ABC, CBS and NBC news. She has also been featured on the cover of numerous magazines, and wrote the book "Echoes from Auschwitz: The Story of Eva and Miriam Mozes. "
In January 1995, Kor organized a group of 25 who returned to Auschwitz for the 50th commemoration of the camp's liberation. Among them was Dr. Hans Munch, a former SS doctor, who signed a public declaration that the gas chambers were real and that he had witnessed the gassing of innocent people.
"All these things were done to us for no other reason but because of being born Jewish," said Kor.
"But I believe that the light of one single candle can illuminate the darkness of the entire universe. I challenge all of you to become that light."