Today we speak about kindness. About how there is not enough of it in the world and we must make the effort to do as much as we can with kindness. We are also in the midst of a social upheaval around the world in which the rights and equality of minorities is being demanded and fought for. These are elements or subjects which make up the backbone of Bob Hercules and Cheri Pugh’s 2006 documentary, Forgiving Dr. Mengele.
If you are at all familiar with that name I am sure it just sent a shiver down your spine. Dr. Josef Mengele worked with the Nazis during World War II. He conducted horrific experiments on the Jews. One of the many was Eva Mozes. Eva and her twin sister, as well as approximately 1,400 twins, were subjected to inhuman testing or experiments.
Born in Romania in 1934 the Mozes twin girls, along with their entire family, were transported in 1944 to the Auschwitz concentration camp. They were chosen to stay alive because they were twins. The price they paid was to be subjected to sadistic experiments at the hands of Mengele.
Nine months was the duration of their torture. After the liberation they went back to Romania and then immigrated to Israel. Eva married an American and moved to Indiana. In her city of Terre Haute, Eva worked as a real estate agent and also opened a museum which had as its mandate to educate the public about the Holocaust in an attempt to rid the world of hatred.
What the film centers on is that Eva has decided, for her own well being and mental health, to forgive Dr. Mengele for what he did to her. As you can imagine, this is quite controversial. Now, Eva preaches this way of self-healing to others. To release that hatred and to no longer be a victim. Obviously there are other survivors who vigourously disagree with her. They are not willing to forgive someone for acts they see as unforgiveable.
The two directors followed Eva around for four years to get the material for this documentary. No matter what side you come out on – forgiveness as a way to heal or it being unforgiveable – it is a very powerful and moving piece of film.
As a viewer the film forces you to think about forgiveness. Whether you would able to. What the limits of your forgiveness are? Is this type of forgiveness possible? Appropriate? Is Eva to be seen as crazy or courageous? Plenty of food for thought here in the 87 minutes.
As a warning some of the archival footage is rather gruesome.
You can stream the film on OVID.