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“I Wil Protect You,” a New Children’s Book About Twins Who Survived Mengele’s Experiments

“I Will Protect You” reveals how these two young girls were able to survive the unimaginable cruelty of the Nazi regime. Eventually, Eva Mozes Kor would heal and find the capacity to forgive.
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April 27, 2022
Danica Davidson Photo by Kaylyn Hite

Educating children about the Holocaust was important to survivor Eva Mozes Kor. Her memoir “I Will Protect You: A True Story of Twins Who Survived Auschwitz,” published on April 5 and written with her friend Danica Davidson, aspires to do just that.

“Eva wanted to reach kids, and she wanted the world to know the facts about the Holocaust,” Davidson told the Journal. “She didn’t want the story sugarcoated, and she wanted it written in an accessible way for kids to read.”

In 1944, 10-year-old Eva and her family, who had lived in a small village in the Transylvanian mountains, were deported to Auschwitz. Eva and her identical twin, Miriam, were separated from their parents and became subjects of Dr. Josef Mengele’s medical experiments. Of the 3,000 twins the so-called “Angel of Death” experimented on during the war, only 160 would survive, including Eva and Miriam. 

“I Will Protect You” reveals how these two young girls were able to survive the unimaginable cruelty of the Nazi regime. Eventually, Kor would heal and find the capacity to forgive.

This book is only one of Kor’s legacies. She founded the CANDLES Holocaust Memorial Museum and Education Center in Terra Haute, Indiana, in memory of the twins Mengele murdered. She wanted to teach about the Holocaust, as well as create a testament to the power of forgiveness. A community leader, champion of human rights and tireless educator, Kor frequently spoke about the Holocaust, which is how she met her co-author. 

Davidson, who lives in southwest Michigan, grew up culturally Jewish in Burbank, California; she began going to temple as a high schooler. Before “I Will Protect You,” Davidson had published 16 middle grade and young adult books, ranging from how-tos and comic books to “Minecrafter” adventure books and a textbook on hate crimes. 

In 2015, Davidson noticed an increase in antisemitism, both at work and in her personal life. She felt a need to do something, but wasn’t sure what. She started by educating herself through reading and seeing Jewish speakers, and met Kor when she was speaking at Western Michigan University in fall of 2018. 

“I spoke to [Eva] afterward, hoping I could interview her,” Davidson said. “As soon as I let loose that I wrote children’s books, Eva about leapt out of her seat. She said she wanted to do a children’s book.”

Eva Mozes Kor

Kor lived in Terre Haute, about five hours away from Davidson. They met in the fall of 2018, and Davidson interviewed Kor through the beginning of December. The rough draft was completed in about three weeks, and the manuscript was submitted to Davidson’s agent in late March 2019.

Kor passed away unexpectedly on July 4, 2019 when she was speaking in Auschwitz; she traveled there twice a year to do so. This was just 15 days after she and Davidson accepted Little, Brown’s offer to publish “I Will Protect You.” 

Davidson said that in her life, Kor was adamant that Holocaust education needs to start before 12 to do any good. The survivor believed if schools and parents wait to teach about the Holocaust or antisemitism, it’s too late, because the prejudices have already set in.

“This book is meant to fill a gap in Holocaust education.” – Danica Davidson

 “This book is meant to fill a gap in Holocaust education,” Davidson said. “Most Holocaust books for this age range are either personal stories about escaping and hiding, or they’re textbooks that don’t have the personal connection. The escaping and hiding stories are important to tell, too, but if they’re all that’s out there, it can give the impression most Jews escaped or successfully hid.”

Since it’s a first-person account of a camp from a child’s point-of-view, Kor’s story is unique. It blends both her personal experience with real history, and includes context about antisemitism and how the Holocaust came to be. 

Since it’s a first-person account of a camp from a child’s point-of-view, Kor’s story is unique. It blends both her personal experience with real history, and includes context about antisemitism and how the Holocaust came to be. 

“Prejudices simmer under the surface and increasingly break through. Eva knew this,” Davidson said. “I hope [our book] takes away a lot of the common misunderstandings and inaccuracies that are out there, and helps people recognize and understand antisemitism as it manifests here and now so they can do something about it.” 

For Kor, “I Will Protect You” was her legacy to her children and the world, Davidson said. 

“It’s my responsibility to see it through till the end, even though she isn’t here. I hope it will be read for many, many generations.”

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