As part of her summer reading assignment, my daughter had to read Boy in the Striped Pajamas by John Boyne. It’s the story of the young son of a Nazi officer who befriends a young Jewish boy living at Auschwitz — despite the fact that the barbed wire of the camp separates the two. I first learned of the story when I had the opportunity to see it at the opening of the Heartland Film Festival in 2008.
Annie’s school assignment has given us ample opportunity to discuss the Holocaust at home. One way that I intend to continue our discussion and learning about the subject is to visit the CANDLES Holocaust Museum in Terre Haute, Indiana. CANDLES is an acronym for “Children of Auschwitz Nazi Deadly Lab Experiments Survivors.”
The museum and the movement to find and connect survivors of the Nazi’s medical experimentation on Jewish twins is the work of Auschwitz survivor Eva Mozes Kor. Born in Romania, Kor and her twin sister Miriam were the only two of their family of six to survive Auschwitz. In the late 1970s, Kor, who had married American Mickey Kor and made her home in Terre Haute in 1960, began seeking out other survivors of the experiments led by Dr. Joseph Mengele.
Kor founded the CANDLES organization in 1984 and opened the Terre Haute museum in 1995. Arson destroyed the original museum in November 2003, but Kor was not deterred and re-opened CANDLES in April 2005.
Reading the museum’s website, CANDLES is not just about documenting the horrors of the Mengele experiments. Rather, CANDLES teaches visitors the importance of respect, equality, the power of forgiveness, and peace.
CANDLES is open Tuesday through Saturday from 1-4pm. Admission is free. Formal presentations, which last an hour or more, are $5 per person.