(A little side note: I wrote an entry about the C.A.N.D.L.E.S. Museum back in April when Gov. Mike Pence honored Eva Mozes-Kor and Chaim Weizmann with the Sagamore of the Wabash Award. You can read about it by clicking here.)
On Friday, October 4, my sister, mother and I visited the C.A.N.D.L.E.S. Museum. It was a visit long overdue, especially for me since I am interested in and writing about the Holocaust. We went a long time ago, before the fire, when they had the old building. A couple of members at the Messianic Synagogue we are attending had introduced us to one of the men who lectures at the Museum.
His name is Walter Sommers. He is a ninety-three year old Jewish survivor of the Nazis and a WWII veteran. He was born in turbulent post-war Germany and witnessed the rise of National Socialism. Thanks to a warning from a German friend and with the help of a cousin, Walter and his family managed to escape in January 1939 and immigrated to America. He fought in the Pacific Theater during WWII and has spent the rest of his seventy years living in Indiana.
Walter is a small man, no more than 5”5; he is a snappy dresser and relies on a cane to get around. His mind is sharp and for over two hours he talked not only about his life, but the Holocaust, the Nazis, the history of anti-Semitism and he also touched on a few current issues that our country is facing. I had the privilege of asking him a few questions that pertained to my YA WIP and one that was out of sheer curiosity.
Walter said, “Over time, we as human beings have become more tolerant, merciful and loving. Compared to the Middle Ages or even a couple hundred years ago, we are far kinder.”
“Do you feel that we human beings are better now than we were back in WWII?” I asked.
There was a pause and he cracked a smile. “Well, I wouldn’t go that far.”
Our visit soon came to a close. We took some pictures with Walter and purchased souvenir necklaces from the gift shop. Mine reads: Tikkun Olam. It means “Repair the World.”
I don’t know if the world can ever really be repaired, but I think Walter Sommers and Eva Mozes-Kor have made a good start.
The rest of the photographs taken are up on facebook.com, but here are a few for you to enjoy.
For a little background information: Eva Mozes-Kor started the C.A.N.D.L.E.S.Museum, not only to educate about the Holocaust, but to bring awareness to the overlooked fact that twins were selected by the infamous Dr. Mengele for experimentation. Eva and her twin Miriam were survivors of the experimentations, Auschwitz and the holocaust. She has made it her life’s mission to not only share her story, but emphasize on the fact that she publicly and personally forgave Mengele and the Nazis.