- Associated Press - Thursday, April 13, 2017

INDIANAPOLIS (AP) - Indiana’s governor praised Holocaust survivor Eva Mozes Kor’s decades-long mission of forgiveness as he presented her the state’s highest honor.

A crowd of hundreds applauded as Kor received the Sachem Award during a Thursday ceremony at the Indiana War Memorial in downtown Indianapolis.

The 83-year-old Jewish native of Romania was sent in 1944 to an Auschwitz concentration camp, where most of her family was killed. Kor and her twin sister, Miriam, survived, but were subjected to inhumane medical experiments under Nazi doctor Josef Mengele before their liberation in 1945.

Kor married an American and moved to Terre Haute in 1960, where she founded the Children of Auschwitz Nazi Deadly Lab Experiments Survivors museum in 1985. She has traveled around the world to talk about her experiences and in 1995 publicly forgave those who carried out the Holocaust atrocities.

“Often, I am asked, ‘How can anyone forgive the Nazis?’” she said during Thursday’s ceremony. “I always answer with a question: ‘Do I deserve to be free from what they have done to me?’ Of course, comes the answer. My forgiveness is an act of self-healing.”

An arsonist destroyed Kor’s CANDLES Museum in 2003, but it was reopened two years later with the help of nearly $300,000 in donations.

Gov. Eric Holcomb said Kor’s advocacy of peace and respect is an inspiration.

“Her life proves there are no bounds on forgiveness and human decency,” Holcomb said.

The Sachem Award has been presented annually by Indiana governors since being reinstituted in 2006. Previous honorees include longtime University of Notre Dame President Rev. Theodore Hesburgh and Bloomington businessman and philanthropist Bill Cook.

Holcomb also announced Kor would be the grand marshal for the Indianapolis 500 Festival Parade in May.

Kor said healing and forgiveness is needed throughout the world.

“Whether we are black or white, rich or poor we all share the same goal,” she said. “It is up to every one of us to improve it and make it the best world for everyone.”

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