As Eva Kor talks about her sister Miriam, there is a shot of an X-Ray showing a human kidney, the eerie white and black glow serving to hammer home the impact of Eva’s reveal that her sister was injected with a chemical that stunted the growth of these organs during her time in Auschwitz . Her sister’s kidneys had never grown beyond the size of a ten year-old child’s. Another reveal comes later—Miriam ultimately succumbed to her illness and died.
Footage of Eva and Miriam’s grandchildren is shown as they walk through a graveyard in Israel, past several identical-looking white tombstones, until they arrive at Miriam’s final resting place. They stand with their heads bowed, seeming weighed down by the memory of who they have lost. Transitioning back to a closeup of Eva, we hear her voice cracking as she explains that she has never had to bury any member of her family before, and that due to Dr Mengele’s records being lost to time, there is no way for her to discover what exactly killed her sister.
In Forgiving Dr. Mengele we are thrust into the narrative of Eva Kor, a victim of Mengele’s twin experiments. The film intercuts modern day footage of Eva telling her memories of her time spent in Auschwitz with old footage of the camp and its prisoners. As she vividly recalls what happened, the film transitions from footage of a children’s train ride at a park into the train carrying the Jewish prisoners to what would be the final destination for so many of them, a scene which left this viewer almost breathless with emotion.
Eva herself points out at one point during the narrative “Just to be freed from the Nazis…it did not remove the pain they had inflicted upon me”, with a closeup on her face serving to emphasize the words she is saying on screen. In this viewer’s opinion, it is a poignant way to show the effects that post-traumatic stress can have upon someone, and it segues perfectly into the film’s message of forgiveness and hope for the future.
Ovid.TV’s Forgiving Dr. Mengele Asks What It Means to Forgive
Kor’s narration at times becomes passionate, fiery with opinion and resolve as she delivers each point with weight. The filmmakers are not afraid to shy away from the more emotional areas of her life–her search for answers as to what was done to her sister and so many others by Mengele, her journey of forgiveness, and the way that she came so close to death in Auschwitz. Eva talks of not knowing that she had the power to forgive the Nazis for what was done to her, and of realizing “I had that power. No one could take it away”. The narration is placed over footage of Eva working out at a gym, tiredly wiping sweat from her brow as she finishes a set on a machine- almost as if to emphasize her newfound sense of power and control over her environment. Forgiving Dr. Mengele then shows her sharing this message with college students whom she hopes to help educate about the Holocaust.
The juxtaposition of current footage with the footage from Auschwitz, as well as Eva’s own narration, amplifies the emotional impact of just what Eva’s journey of forgiveness means to her and the effect that it can have upon others in turn. What the documentary may lack in a clear sense of narrative, it more than makes up for with the lessons that it aims to teach its viewers, in this reviewer’s opinion.
Anyone interested in Holocaust history, the ethics and questions of what it means to forgive, or heartfelt stories of survival will be able to get a meaningful experience out of Forgiving Dr. Mengele. Be warned that while not as heavy as some films dealing with the same subject material, Forgiving Dr. Mengele is at its core a film about the history of the Holocaust and human experimentation, and will likely be be emotionally triggering for many, if not most.
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Run time: 1 h 19 minutes
Cast and Crew:
Produced and directed by Bob Hercules and Cheri Pugh
To watch the film, visit the OVID.tv page for Forgiving Dr. Mengele
Images courtesy of OVID.tv
About the Author: Aliza Brylinsky
Aliza Brylinsky is an aspiring writer based in Ithaca, New York. Originally from a small town in Pennsylvania, Aliza spent much of her life surrounded by pieces of literature, which fostered a deep love for the written word and the effect that it can have on a wider audience. Often writing short fantasy stories for fun and imagining the intricate plotlines that the characters would be involved in as a child, this eventually led her to pursue a path to writing professionally. When not focusing on both creative and professional writing, Aliza can be found enjoying the bounties of nature around her home, reading works of fantasy and sci-fi, and smothering her various pets with all the love she can give them. She has a deep interest in the history and culture of any area she happens to find herself in.