News from Guston - April 2020
The Librarian of Auschwitz by Antonio Iturbe, based on the true story of Dita Kraus, is about a fourteen year old girl who became the librarian of eight books in the German concentration camp of Auschwitz. If the books had been discovered, the penalty would have been death. It is a moving story as told by Dita to Iturbe and surprisingly, the story is one of quiet triumph over incredible adversity.
Another story to come out of Auschwitz recently is a testimony by Eva Kor, who was sent, aged 10, to Auschwitz with her family and twin sister, Miriam, in 1944. They were herded into cattle trains, with no food or water and separated from their parents on arrival, never to see them again. As twins, they were subjected to Dr Mengele's cruel experiments. Eva made a silent pledge in the beginning to do whatever was in her power to make sure that they would survive - in other words, to refuse to die. In 1945 they were released and returned home to find that all their family had been murdered and all that survived of them were three crumpled photos on the floor.
In 1987 Eva donated a kidney to her sister who eventually died in 1993. Eva felt angry and tried to heal herself. She decided to go to Germany to meet Hans Münch, the Nazi doctor who, as a bacteriologist, worked at Auschwitz and was responsible for standing outside the gas chamber to ensure that everyone had been killed and then he would sign one death certificate, no names, just the number of people who had been murdered.
When Eva contacted him Dr Münch was 82 years of age and very nervous, but he agreed to meet her and treated her with kindness, respect and consideration. He said that what happened was a nightmare that he lived with. She asked him if he would come with her to Auschwitz and he agreed. He signed a document to confirm that the gas chambers existed.
Eva wanted to thank him. But how? After ten months a simple idea came to her: to write a letter of forgiveness to him. But what she discovered for herself was life changing - that she had the power to forgive: 'No-one could give me that power. No-one could take it away.' She decided she could even forgive Dr Mengele - the person who had put her through hell. 'It wasn't easy but I felt that an enormous weight had been lifted from me. I finally felt free.... You can never change what happened in the past. All you can do is change how you react to it.... My whole family were murdered. But I have the power to forgive. And so do you.'
Eva Korr died in 2019, at the age of 85, during the production of her testimony.
'Pardon one another so that later on you will not remember the injury. The recollection of an injury is in itself a wrong. It adds to our anger, nurtures our sin and hates what is good. It is a rusty arrow and poison for the soul.' Saint Francis of Paola (1416-1507)
'Father forgive them as they know not what they do' - Jesus' words from the cross, asking God to forgive those who were involved in his death.