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'I was a guinea pig for Mengele'

By CNN's Dr. Sanjay Gupta

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Kor: "They would take a lot of blood from my left arm, on occasion enough blood until I fainted."
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Holocaust survivor Eva Kor recalls Nazi genetic experiments on the 60th anniversary of the Auschwitz camp's liberation. CNN's Dr. Sanjay Gupta reports.
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ATLANTA, Georgia (CNN) -- As she recounts her story 60 years later, 70-year-old Eva Kor says it's as if she's back at Auschwitz with her twin sister, Miriam. The pain and horror are still very real.

"An SS was running up and down, yelling in German, 'Twins?'

"He approached us and demanded to know if we were twins," Kor says.

"Another SS came and pulled my mother in one direction. We were pulled in the opposite direction. We were crying, she was crying.

"I remember looking back and seeing my mother's arms stretched out in despair as she was pulled away. I never even got to say goodbye to her because this was the last time we saw her."

As a routine, Dr. Josef Mengele -- called the "angel of death" -- decided with the flick of his hand to either send people to prison camp or to death in the gas chambers.

And by mere virtue of being twins, Eva and Miriam's lives would be saved.

"They said, 'Well, you might have noticed that we are all twins, and we are used in experiments conducted by Dr. Mengele.'

"As long as Dr. Mengele wanted us alive, no one dared harm us. We were Mengele's kids."

Mengele and fellow doctors performed gruesome genetic experiments on thousands of twins

"Our clothes would be removed and we would sit naked on benches for six to eight hours, most of the day. Every part of my body was measured, compared to charts, and compared between each twin.

"The other experiments were much more dangerous ... They would tie both of my arms, take a lot of blood from my left arm, on occasion enough blood until I fainted. And that was, they wanted to know how much blood a person could lose and still live," she says.

"At the same time I was given a minimum of five injections into my right arm. We don't know what the substances were, but the rumors were that they were germs and chemicals."

Under Mengele's watch, she says, other twins were sterilized, had limbs amputated and were castrated without anesthesia.

"Mengele wanted to play God. We have to understand he didn't just do these experiments because he was crazy. He wanted to create blue-eyed blondes in multiple numbers," Kor says.

The experiments did not contribute to greater scientific progress. Most historians regard his treatment of the twins merely as an exercise in cruelty.

Decades after Auschwitz's liberation, Eva Kor is still healing -- in part by erecting a museum called CANDLES, which stands for Children of Auschwitz Nazi Deadly Lab Experiments Survivors.

Kor says she was forced to rebuild it after anti-Semites burned it down in 2003.

Remarkably, Kor says she has forgiven the arsonists -- and forgiven Mengele for the experiments and a lifetime of ill health.

She also forgives Mengele for her sister's death by a rare form of cancer, which she believes is the result of the experiments.

"Here I was, that nobody, that guinea pig that had no value in Mengele's eyes, and yet I had the power to forgive the God of Auschwitz," Kor says.

"Forgiveness is nothing more, nothing less than an act of self-healing, an act of reclaiming your life."


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