“I know many people will criticize me for this photo, but so be it. It was two human beings seventy years after it happened,” she later wrote in a blog post. “For the life of me I will never understand why anger is preferable to a goodwill gesture. Nothing good ever comes from anger.”
Later, Kor appeared on German television defending her actions and made comments that were interpreted by other Holocaust survivors to be a call for a halt to Groening’s prosecution. Her comments came as a shock to the other plaintiffs, who, like Kor, are testifying against Groening in his high-profile trial, which resumed Tuesday.
In a sharply worded statement issued by their lawyers, the plaintiffs questioned why Kor chose to become a plaintiff in the case in the first place. They also wondered why she chose to air her “forgiveness” in such a public way.
“Our clients would not comment here – who better than a survivor of Auschwitz knows that everyone needs to find their own way to overcome their suffering – if Mrs Kor did not repeatedly stage her ‘forgiveness’ publicly,” the statement read, according to the Guardian.
“The subject of this criminal procedure is NOT that Mr Gröning has done anything personally to Mrs Kor or any of the other co-plaintiffs,” it continued. “Whether it is Mrs Kor’s place to forgive Mr. Gröning’s participation in the murder of her relatives is up to everyone to decide for themselves. But Mrs. Kor says, ‘These prosecutions must stop’. Then she should not have become a co-plaintiff.”
It continued: “We cannot forgive Mr Gröning his participation in the murder of our relatives and another 299,000 people – especially since he feels free from any legal guilt. We want justice and we welcome the resolution that this trial brings.”
Now, in a lengthy explanation published Monday, Kor denied that she ever wanted Groening’s trial to come to an end.
Instead, Kor wrote on Quora, she thinks the cause of Holocaust survivors would be better served if Groening and others like him worked to combat rising neo-Nazism in Germany:
One thing people are criticizing me about is because they said I went on a talk show in Germany and called for the prosecution to end. I have never, ever asked for the prosecution to end. On the contrary – I even told Mr. Groening to encourage all the other Nazis to come forward because we need their help now to fight the neo-Nazis. What I was saying and still will say is that I see no merit for a 93-year-old guy to go to jail. They are not going to live that long in jail, and they are already limited in their mobility. But if they can do something as a community service as part of their punishment, I think it would help Germany and it might even help the survivors realize that we need the help of the perpetrators to document that it happened in the eyes of the neo-Nazis and revisionists.
Kor survived Auchwitz’s gas chambers, but only because she and her twin sister, Miriam, became unwilling participants in twisted genetic experiments carried out by Nazi officer and physician Josef Mengele, nicknamed the “Angel of Death.”
The rest of her family was killed at Auchwitz. Seventy years later, she is an advocate for other survivors of Nazi experimentation.
But her act of forgiveness has managed to raise enormous tensions among the ever-dwindling ranks of Holocaust survivors.
In her own defense, Kor urged other survivors to talk to her directly about forgiveness.
“I felt when I discovered forgiveness like I had found a cure for cancer. It was that amazing to me,” Kor wrote. “If we consider anger and hatred the cancer of the human soul, and if I found a cure for that cancer and it made me feel good and did not hurt anybody, should I keep it secret or should I share it with the rest of the world?”