This film* focuses on a Holocaust survivor who now lives in Indiana. The woman was one of the twins that Joseph Mengele used in his human experiments at Auschwitz. Her twin sister survived the war, but died later due to complications of those experiments.
Like many Survivors, Eva speaks in schools and community groups about the Holocaust because she believes that the Holocaust must never be forgotten. However, unlike many of her peers, she believes that the Survivors should forgive the Nazis. That did not go over very well with a group of other Auschwitz survivors who traveled to Germany on the anniversary of their liberation. Most of them were still bitter and even angry. Even Eva slipped up once when she expressed her loathing for the German language. Still, she insisted that forgiving the Nazis was the only thing that would allow her to live as a full human. Carrying around anger and hatred would give the Nazis victory over her soul. She would not permit that.
Instead, she chose to forgive them, and to live in peace.
In one particularly moving scene, she walked through a part of the camp in the company of the doctor who had been Mengele's assistant. They chatted like old friends, and it was clear from their body language that they were enjoying the conversation. It was a little creepy that they could seem to be enjoying themselves in that dreadful place, but it brought tears to my eyes to think of the incredible healing in her heart that made it possible.
Survivor stories nearly always leave me sort of emotionally breathless. It never fails to astonish me that a human being can be tortured and abused and still end up living a more or less normal life. This film shows Eva going about her regular duties as a real estate agent. She's the typical Midwestern real estate lady: a little too much makeup with kind of gaudy clothes and jewelry, but very outgoing and friendly. She seems like a hard worker who genuinely wants to do a good job for her clients.
The Nazis, especially animals like Mengele, reveal that the human spirit has almost limitless capacity to do evil. Survivors like Eva demonstrate that the human spirit also has the capacity to resist that evil and to overcome it. Somehow, by some miracle, humans can not merely survive such horrible events, they can thrive.
For me the Survivors are, both individually and collectively, Messiahs. They are messengers from the gods, living among us, demonstrating merely by their ability to live and work and find some enjoyment in life, that there is something both powerful and holy about being a human being on this good Earth.
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