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Eva Mozes Kor To Receive 2017 Sachem Award
Updated March 15, 2017 7:48 AM
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(INDIANAPOLIS) - Governor Eric J. Holcomb will honor Holocaust survivor and CANDLES Holocaust museum founder Eva Mozes Kor of Terre Haute the 2017 Sachem Award, the state's highest honor, at a ceremony Thursday, April 13, 2017. The governor made the announcement today at the CANDLES museum in Terre Haute.

"Eva is the living embodiment of true compassion," Gov. Holcomb said. "Her life proves there are no bounds on forgiveness and human decency. Eva shows us what our response should be to acts of bigotry and hatred through her daily mission to educate people and spread messages of peace, respect and civility."

The Sachem is given annually to recognize a lifetime of excellence and moral virtue that has brought credit and honor to Indiana. Previous recipients include Rev. Theodore M. Hesburgh, former president emeritus of the University of Notre Dame and world statesman (2006) and long-time businessman and civic leader P.E. MacAllister (2014). Eva Mozes Kor will be the first Sachem honoree named by Gov. Holcomb.

"It is an honor and privilege to receive this award," Eva Mozes Kor said. "My mission in life is to teach the world to heal from the wounds of the past. This will create peace."

Kor, 83, is a survivor of the Holocaust, forgiveness advocate, and public speaker. Eva emerged from a trauma-filled childhood as a brilliant example of the human spirit's power to overcome. Today, she is a community leader, human rights champion, and an educator.

Eva Mozes Kor was born in 1934 in the village of Portz, Romania. Eva had three sisters: Edit, Aliz, and her twin, Miriam. The Mozes family lived under the spectre of the Nazi takeover of Germany and the everyday experience of prejudice against the Jews.

In 1944, the family was packed into a cattle car and transported to the Auschwitz death camp. Eva's parents and older sisters were killed in the gas chambers, and she and her twin sister, Miriam, were subjected to inhumane medical experiments under the supervision of Nazi doctor Josef Mengele. Eva and her sister were among only 200 twins who survived and were liberated by the Soviet Army in 1945.

Eva's family was held in three different Jewish concentration camps during World War II, and she and her twin sister, Miriam, were held in Auchwitz, along with many other Jewish twins who were selected as subjects for the Nazi party's Dr. Josef Mengele. Eva and her sister, along with about 200 children, were found alive by the Soviet Army and liberated from the concentration camp in 1945.

Fifty years after the liberation of Auschwitz, Eva returned to the site and stood where so many were tragically murdered. To the surprise of many, she then freed herself from her victim status and announced to the world that--in her name alone--she forgave the Nazis.

In 1984, Eva Kor founded the organization CANDLES, an acronym for "Children of Auschwitz Nazi Deadly Lab Experiments Survivors," to locate other surviving Mengele twins. In 1995, she founded the CANDLES Holocaust Museum and Education Center in Terre Haute. The museum was destroyed by an arsonist in 2003, but Eva rebuilt the museum from the ground up and reopened it in 2005.

Eva Kor remains an integral part of the CANDLES organization and museum. She returns to Auschwitz each year, leading groups from all over the country so they can share the lessons of the past with future generations.

Eva worked with state legislators to gain passage of an Indiana law requiring Holocaust education in secondary schools and taught a course at Indiana State University on the value and philosophy of overcoming adversity in life.

Sachem background:

In 1970, Governor Edgar D. Whitcomb introduced the "Confederacy of the Sachem," a group of business, industry, publishing, banking and legal leaders, who served as state hosts, welcoming visitors to Indiana and promoting the state's culture and economy. The organization's name came from the Algonquin term applied to village leaders, implying wisdom, judgment and grace.

Bylaws outlined that Sachems were to nominate and recommend Sagamore appointments to the governor. The Sagamore of the Wabash dates to the term of Indiana Governor Ralph Gates in 1945 and has been the state's highest honor bestowed by the governor.

Following Whitcomb's term, the Sachem project was not pursued, and the organization dissolved in 1989. Whitcomb visited Daniels in 2005 to acquaint him with the concept and to give him custody of remaining Sachem funds. Governor Daniels recreated the Sachem to underscore the importance of moral example; achievement alone without exemplary virtue does not qualify a person for this recognition.

Eleven Sachem awards have been bestowed since the honor was revived in 2005:

  • 2005: John Wooden--Legendary college basketball coach, teacher, and mentor.
  • 2006: Rev. Theodore Hesburgh--Former president of the University of Notre Dame, and world statesman.
  • 2007: Jane Blaffer Owen--Philanthropist and preservationist of New Harmony.
  • 2008: Bill and Gloria Gaither--Grammy winning singer/songwriter duo from Alexandria, Indiana.
  • 2009: Donald C. "Danny" Danielson--New Castle business and civic leader.
  • 2010: Carl D. Erskine--Civic leader and legendary baseball player.
  • 2011: William A. "Bill" Cook--Philanthropist and cofounder of Cook Inc.
  • 2012: Ian M. Rolland--CEO of Lincoln National Corp.
  • 2013: Don Wolf--Civic leader and CEO of Do It Best, Corp.
  • 2014: P.E. MacAllister--Long-time businessman and civic leader.
  • 2015: Amos C. Brown, III--Radio host and civic leader.
  • 2016: None

Each Sachem honoree receives a specially-designed sculpture that captures the Native American heritage of the Sachem. All Sachem recipients are selected by Indiana's governor.

For additional background information on Eva Mozes Kor, visit the CANDLES website at candlesholocaustmuseum.org.



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