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Terre Haute's Holocaust Museum Debuts New Exhibit, "Choices"

Eva Kor

[photo1]

When visitors enter the new exhibit at CANDLES Holocaust Museum and Education Center in Terre Haute, they're met by a striking photo of the train platforms at the Auschwitz-Birkenau  concentration camp facing them from the opposite end of the room.

The permanent exhibit is called “Choices: The Holocaust Through Eva’s Story.” It tells the story of Eva Mozes Kor, a Holocaust survivor and the founder of CANDLES.

Eva and her twin sister, Miriam, were 10 years old when they were taken from their parents at Auschwitz and used as test subjects for the experiments of Nazi doctor Josef Mengele. They were liberated in January 1945.

[photo2]

Program Director Dorothy Chambers says the exhibit sends the message that choices matter. She says the museum's goal is to get visitors thinking about how individual choices can affect local communities and the broader world.

“We want visitors to understand that the Holocaust was not inevitable — that people made choices that led to the Holocaust,” she says.

[photo3]

The exhibit, made of four movable partitions which create several different areas, has been in the works for close to 18 months, and it includes contributions from members of the community.

The museum received a $21,000 donation  from the local philanthropic organization 100+ Women Who Care to help fund the exhibit, and it also worked with area builders, designers and printers on the displays.

Several Indiana State University art students painted portions of the room, and students from the university's College of Technology developed apps for the exhibit's tablet computer stations. Those apps include audio clips of Eva recounting some of her experiences. In one, she recalls noticing a plane with the American flag flying over the concentration camp.

[photo4]

Visitors follow a chronological journey, beginning in Eva's birthplace in Portz, Romania. A white window frame with a photo of Portz sits beside a table set with a basket and photos of Eva's parents, Alexander and Jaffa Mozes.

As groups wander, they travel through Eva's arrival at Auschwitz, her liberation and her forgiveness of the Nazis.

Kor says, in difficult times, people sometimes believe they have limited choices. She says she wants visitors to learn and understand they have many options to create change.

"The group felt very much that we all have choices, and do we always make the right choices," Kor says. "To get people to think about that is important. We have the same 24 hours a day that everybody else does."

[photo5]

Chambers says the museum gives frequent tours to students, and she says visitors come from areas across Indiana and from surrounding states. She says the museum has high hopes for its new display.

"Before this exhibit, this room was four walls with posters," Chambers says. "We hope by creating a different experience for the visitor, we can bring our messages to a lot of people."

The grand opening of "Choices: The Holocaust Through Eva's Story" is Thursday at 6:30 p.m.

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