Indiana State University Newsroom

'Echoes from Mengele's Lab': Lectures on scientific discovery and morality

October 8, 2014

Overcoming struggles is a matter of sheer will -- that's the message Auschwitz survivor Eva Mozes Kor delivered to Indiana State students during a presentation on Sept. 29.

In her lecture, Kor told the students how she and her twin sister, Miriam, eluded death in Auschwitz as one of Dr. Josef Mengele's test subjects. Kor narrated her experience, from remembering the 85-by-35 foot selection platform that saw "more families ripped apart than any strip of land on this Earth," to struggle and then to freedom.

She also addressed how she publicly forgave the Nazis in the late '90s and now urges others to exercise their right to forgive -- not as a means of dismissing, but as a means of unburdening one's soul.

Kor recapped her lecture by ending it with a few life lessons. The first lesson: "Never give up on your dreams -- there is always hope after despair."

Joseph Jones, a senior philosophy and history double-major from Lafayette, said he took this lesson to heart the most. As a history major, Jones also noticed Kor's reference earlier in the lecture to an institute in Germany, which he believed to be the Kaiser Wilhelm Institute. The Kaiser Wilhelm Institute received eyes, skeletons and other human body parts from Mengele's dead subjects.

Secondly, Kor said, "Prejudice is the cancer of the human soul." To prevent developing prejudices, one must make an effort to understand others and to learn the social and economic factors that allowed the Holocaust to happen -- such as an economic depression, she said.

She also urged the audience to vote to "prevent genocide and the spread of terrorist and radical ideas," citing the rise of the Neo-Nazi party in the United Kingdom (seats there jumping from 22 to 122 seats in May). She believes that Neo-Nazism will continue to grow in America as well; a trend she blames on the rise in voter-apathy, choosing not to participate and allowing radicals to grab the vote.

"Though their numbers are less, they are more organized," Kor said.

The third life lesson was on ethics and medicine. Kor dismissed the notion that Mengele was a madman who enjoyed torturing his subjects.

"Dr. Mengele was a dedicated doctor and a dedicated Nazi," Kor said. She talked about the fine line between science and morality and insisted that Mengele had merely crossed that line.

Kor is the owner of the C.A.N.D.L.E.S Holocaust Museum (Children of Auschwitz Deadly Lab Experiments Survivors), which operates to "shed some light on this hidden and dark chapter of the Holocaust."

The event was sponsored by the Indiana State University Department of Philosophy, Center for Genomic Advocacy, College of Arts and Sciences and the Cunningham Memorial Library.

The C.A.N.D.L.E.S Holocaust Museum, located at 1532 South Third St., is open 10 a.m.-4 p.m. Tuesday-Friday and 1 p.m.-4 p.m. Saturday.


Writer: Kristen Kilker, media relations assistant, Office of Communications and Marketing, Indiana State University, 812-237-3773 or