Renowned Holocaust survivor to speak in Miles City

For many years Custer County District High School (CCDHS) history teacher John Tooke has wanted to bring Holocaust survivor Eva Mozes Kor to speak to students and the Miles City community. Kor, an Indiana resident, is a forgiveness advocate and a popular public speaker. 

Mission accomplished. Kor will be in Miles City on Sunday and Monday, April 23-24. She will speak in the CCDHS gym at 6 p.m. on Sunday and 10:30 a.m. on Monday. Both events are free and open to the public.

A professional presentation is planned. Mid-Rivers Communications will project the address onto a big screen during Kor’s talk. The gym will also be equipped with a professional sound system. 

According to Kor, she’s been to Montana four or five times. Her last trip was to Glasgow. 

“My two main purposes are to tell people what happened and the lessons I learned from my life,” Kor said in a phone interview. “I tell three life lessons: never,  ever give up on yourself, treat each other with respect and fairness, and forgive your worst enemy.”

Kor said she is often asked  how she could forgive those involved with the Holocaust. Kor always responds with a question of her own: “Do I deserve to be free from what they did to me?”

Everyone who has ever asked that question always responds with yes. Kor then replies with: “And how am I supposed to free myself from the burden they put on me?”

“Every human has the right to be happy,” Kor said. “Forgiving your worst enemy sets you free.”

Kor is hoping that the community of Miles City will pack the building. This event won’t be the first time Tooke has heard Kor speak.

Tooke said Kor’s presentation shouldn’t be missed.

“I’ve seen her speak a number of times. It just blows you away. She does more for Holocaust education than I’ve ever seen. When I had heard that she was speaking in Glasgow I tried to contact them to see if we could get her down here on that trip. It didn’t work out because she’s a busy person,” said Tooke. “I just ended up trying to replicate that. I wanted to get this to the community.”

According to Tooke he had help in arranging the visit from a friend in Billings, Rob Stanton, who had worked with Kor before. “I give him all the credit for introducing me to her,” Tooke said.

At the December meeting of the Miles City Unified Board of Trustees Tooke received the board’s approval to open a new student activity account for the event. “The money is coming in and I want it to all go into one spot,” said Tooke.

Tooke started by approaching Milestown Community Improvement, Inc. (MCII) to see if they’d be interested in helping fundraise for the event.

“They really jumped in,” said Tooke. “They were really supportive, branched me off to other organizations.”

Some of the other organizations that jumped in to help are the Holy Rosary Health Foundation, Kiwanis, Rotary, Miles Community College, the Associated Students of Miles Community College, Mid-Rivers and more.

“The cost is just over $10,000,” said Tooke. “The community has been very supportive. It couldn’t be done without them.”

Any additional proceeds will go to further Holocaust education in the school district.

For more information contact Tooke at jtooke@milescity.k12.mt.us.

“Just to hear her speak, her message of hope, of survival and overcoming obstacles in your life to achieve success. It’s truly remarkable,” said Tooke.

In 1944, Kor and her family were taken to the Auschwitz concentration camp. 

Kor and her twin sister, Miriam, only 10 years-old at the time, were separated from their family, and never saw them again. They became part of the group of children who were experimented on by Dr. Josef Mengele. Through the desire to survive, both Kor and Miriam lived through the ordeal and were later liberated by the Soviet army on Jan. 27, 1945. 

With the help of her sister Miriam, Kor went on to form the Children of Auschwitz Nazi Deadly Lab Experiments Survivors (CANDLES) organization in 1984. Together they began searching for other surviving Mengele twins. In total they’ve been able to locate 122 other twins who live in 10 countries and on four continents. 

In 1995, Kor opened the CANDLES Holocaust Museum and Education Center in Terre Haute, Indiana. The museum’s mission is to prevent prejudice and hatred through education.