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Forgiving Dr. Mengele (2006)

7.0
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Ratings: 7.0/10 from 344 users   Metascore: 69/100
Reviews: 7 user | 12 critic | 13 from Metacritic.com

Eva Mozes Kor, who survived Josef Mengele's cruel twin experiments in the Auschwitz concentration camp, shocks other Holocaust survivors when she decides to forgive the perpetrators as a way of self-healing.

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Title: Forgiving Dr. Mengele (2006)

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Cast

Credited cast:
Eva Mozes Kor ...
Herself
Rest of cast listed alphabetically:
Sami Adwan ...
Himself - Peace Research Inst. for the Middle East
Dan Bar-On ...
Himself, Professor of psychology, Ben-Gurion University, Israel
Michael Berenbaum ...
Himself - Holocaust scholar & author
Albert H. Friedlander ...
Himself, Dean, Leo Baeck College, London (as Rabbi Albert H. Friedlander)
Alex Kor ...
Himself, Eva's son
Michael Kor ...
Himself - Eva's husband
Rina Kor ...
Herself - Eva's daughter
Vera Kriegel ...
Herself - Former Mengele twin
Jona Laks ...
Herself - Former Mengele twin
Linda Livni ...
Herself - Jewish peace activist
Hubert Markl ...
President - Max Planck Society (as Dr. Hubert Markl)
Hans Münch ...
Himself (archive footage) (as Dr. Hans Münch)
Ephraim Reichenberg ...
Himself - Former Mengele twin
Mary Wright ...
Herself, Eva's friend
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Storyline

Eva Mozes Kor, who survived Josef Mengele's cruel twin experiments in the Auschwitz concentration camp, shocks other Holocaust survivors when she decides to forgive the perpetrators as a way of self-healing.

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Release Date:

January 2006 (USA)  »

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Box Office

Opening Weekend:

$2,754 (USA) (24 February 2006)

Gross:

$10,403 (USA) (17 November 2006)
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Quotes

Eva Mozes Kor: Getting even has never healed a single person.
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User Reviews

 
A compelling and provocative film that is different from other Holocaust documentaries
29 July 2007 | by (Cornwall, United Kingdom) – See all my reviews

The title says it all: Forgiving Dr. Mengele is a short, simple but powerfully provocative documentary about a Holocaust survivor's decision to forgive her Nazi captors and the furor her public act creates. Filmmakers Bob Hercules and Cheri Pugh force viewers to question their own capacity to forgive by detailing the story of a woman subjected to the worst kind of evil and her willingness to absolve those responsible for her suffering.

Eva Mozes Kor was one of thousands of Jews turned into "human guinea pigs" by Josef Mengele, the head Nazi doctor at the Auschwitz concentration camps during World War II. While Kor's other family members did not survive their horrific treatment, Kor somehow managed to live. After the war and liberation of the camp, Kor married and started a family in America, but still lived with the pain of the past. In the 1980s, Kor met the only surviving Nazi doctor of the era, Hans Munch, and persuaded him to come back to Auschwitz with her to declare that the Holocaust occurred. During the ceremony, Kor forgave Munch and a reporter asked her whether or not she could also forgive Mengele. Kor answered yes and started a firestorm.

Unlike most Holocaust documentaries, Forgiving Dr. Mengele looks at a modern-day situation through the lens of the past and tackles a philosophical dilemma along the way. Director-producers Hercules and Pugh ponder whether it is possible, or even appropriate, to forgive evil. Eve Mozes Kor makes her case about needing to heal one's own heart and soul, but other Holocaust victims, including Jona Laks and Vera Kriegel, are outraged by Kor's act.

The viewer gets an unflinching history lesson about how Mengele tortured and killed under the guise of scientific research and experimentation. (The archival footage is gruesome.) There is also an intimate portrait of Kor and her family, including the husband, Michael, she met after World War II, and their two children (now grown) and grandchildren. The less forgiving Holocaust victims get much less of a back story.

Despite the empathetic focus on Kor, Forgiving Dr. Mengele doesn't automatically side with her controversial announcement-at Auschwitz itself-to forgive the Nazis, but it fully explores the issues raised and eventually regards Kor as a courageous and inspiring individual. In one of the many dramatic sequences, as a group of Jews argue with Kor at a Jewish centre, the meaning of the word "forgive" is even debated, but the isolated and outnumbered Kor holds her own.

The conundrum of Kor's message culminates in the passage where Kor travels to a Palestinian neighbourhood and hears from a group of activists and victims of Israeli violence about how they wish to free themselves of their hate. Kor admits later "it was more than I could deal with." This event is followed by an even more hurtful episode: Kor learns her local Holocaust museum, in Terre Haute, Indiana, has been deliberately destroyed by a fire. Yet even in face of this new hate, Kor feels more sadness than anger. She again considers forgiveness. Eva Mozes Kor's strength of spirit should inspire even those who disagree with her view, and Forgiving Dr. Mengele is a valuable document for at least that reason alone.

-Eric Monder


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