BERLIN - A Holocaust survivor and a former Nazi guard did something totally unexpected: They embraced.
Eva Kor, a witness in the case against former SS Sgt. Oskar Groening, said she wanted to shake the hand of the man who became known as the “accountant of Auschwitz” because their first meeting didn’t go so well.
“The strangest thing happened,” the 81-year-old wrote on Quora, a question-and-answer website. “He was trying to say something as he was sitting sideways in his chair. He turned white and fell backwards, not saying a word.”
As Groening, 93, fainted, he held onto Kor’s arm.
“At that moment he was not a Nazi but an old man who fainted and I was trying to save him from falling,” she wrote. “This is not the interaction I was hoping for. I knocked out an old Nazi.”
While Kor believes Groening needs to take responsibility for his role at the concentration camp, she said she has forgiven the Nazis and was interested in seeing the outcome of an interaction between a victim and a perpetrator.
“You cannot predict it,” she said.
After the trial session concluded, Kor approached Groening for a second time, and told him, “I appreciate the fact that you are willing to come here and face us.”
Kor asked Groening, who is charged with 300,000 counts of accessory to murder, to appeal to other Nazis that are still alive today to come forward and address neo-Nazis in Germany today.
“Because these young misguided Germans who want Hitler and fascism to come back—they will not listen to Eva Kor or any other survivor,” she wrote. “You can tell them you were in Auschwitz, you were involved with the Nazi party and it was a terrible thing.”
Kor was correct. You cannot predict the interaction between a Nazi and a Holocaust victim.
As she spoke to Groening, he grabbed Kor and kissed her on the cheek.
“I probably wouldn’t have gone that far, but I guess it is better than what he would have done to me 70 years ago,” she wrote.
Kor tweeted an image of the two embracing, captioned “two old people reaching out.” The story has since gone viral after Kor posted an image on her Twitter account that has gotten 283 re-tweets and 239 favorites as of Sunday, April 26, 2015. Her blog on Quora has 847 upvotes.
Many Twitter users are talking about the greeting.
"The picture of true strength," @Jens4UT tweeted.
"I am continually astounded by the grace of @EvaMozesKor," @rocza tweeted.
Kor, who was born in Romania, was torn from her family as soon as they arrived at the notorious death camp in 1944, according to The Blaze.
At the time she was 10 years old and the only reason she survived Auschwitz was because she was a twin, a class of people valued by Nazis for medical experiments, the Associated Press reported.
“My ideas in life are very different, I know,” she wrote. “And my idea is for people from the victims’ side and people from the perpetrators’ side to come together, face the truth, try to heal, and work together to prevent it from ever happening again.”