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Holocaust survivor Eva Schloss to bring her message of hope –

by Audrey Partington

Special to The Greater Olney News

For Holocaust survivor Eva Geiringer Schloss, the life and death of Anne Frank is woven into the fabric of her personal history.

The girls were playmates in Amsterdam before their families went into hiding from the Nazis.

Both families were discovered and deported to Auschwitz. Eva and her mother Elfriede survived.

While searching in vain for her father and brother, they reconnected with Otto Frank, the sole survivor of his family. They travelled together back to Holland, where he learned the terrible fate of his family.

Otto and Elfriede bonded over their loss, and eventually wed, making Eva the posthumous stepsister of the famous diarist.

Forty years would pass before Eva would emerge from Anne’s shadow and tell her own story. At the age of 90, she continues to speak all over the world, in hopes that the events of the Holocaust will never be repeated.

On Nov. 25 at 7 p.m., she will appear at Col. Zadok Magruder High School in Derwood, in a program presented by the Olney Chabad.

“I wanted to talk when we came back from Auschwitz, but everyone said, ‘we know it was terrible, but we have to go on.’ So, I suppressed it. I had nightmares and nervous illnesses,” Schloss said during a trans-Atlantic telephone call.

Eva moved to England where she met and married Zvi Schloss, with whom she had three daughters and five grandchildren.

“Otto was a wonderful stepfather and a very good grandfather,” Schloss said. “I loved him as a person. But I was very close to my father, so he couldn’t replace him. I often wondered if Otto looked at me and wondered why did this little girl survive and not my little girls.”

Otto was given Anne’s diary by a former neighbor, Miep Gies, who had hoped to return it to Anne.

“Otto carried it with him all the time and showed it to everyone,” Schloss said. “It wasn’t so famous then.”

After the diary was published in 1947, Otto Frank gave the original to the Dutch government. Today it is on loan to the Anne Frank House in Amsterdam.

“It’s in a bullet-proof case, as if it’s the Crown Jewel,” said Schloss, who was not too impressed with it at first.

“I was still under a depression. I thought, ‘She was in hiding, I was in hiding. She was arrested. I was arrested.’ I was jealous, but then I realized that I’m not jealous of someone who had no life.”

Years later, Schloss realized the depth of Anne’s thoughts.

“She was much more mature than I was,” Schloss said. “She wrote stories and performed them for other children. In her diary, she wrote about feminism and political things. And she was interested in boys.”

Schloss describes herself back then as “shy and withdrawn.”

In 1986, Schloss was invited to attend an Anne Frank exhibition that traveled from Amsterdam to England. She was surprised to be asked to speak.

“I didn’t want to. I wanted to hide under the table,” she said. “I can’t remember what I said and it must have been all mixed up.”

Gradually the words came easier as she was asked to open the exhibition all over England. People urged her to write a book. Published in 1988, “Eva’s Story” has been translated into many languages.

The book led to more invitations to speak, which she has done for the past 30 years.

She published two more books, “The Promise” (2006) and “After Auschwitz” (2013).

In recent years, her schedule of speaking engagements includes six weeks in the fall and six weeks in spring.

“I’m not telling about Anne Frank’s life, but my own life,” Schloss said.

But she didn’t tell her story to her own children until they were adults. “It was too painful.”

Schloss gave each a copy of her first book, which they read, but didn’t ask many questions.

Otto told Schloss’ children many stories about Anne before the war, but did not explain who she was or what happened to her.

“It was a bit of a problem for my children. There were photos of Anne all around, which the children found spooky,” she said. “I think there’s trauma in the second generation, and even the third.”

Schloss made it her mission to make sure the world never forgets the Holocaust.

“I’m disappointed because history does repeat itself,” she said. “People don’t learn their lesson. Today we see so much hatred against other groups, and discrimination against people who are different, like in Syria and Bosnia, and in Turkey with the Kurds.”

Schloss was asked to speak at Newport High School in Orange County, Calif., last March following an incident involving a Nazi-themed beer pong party.

“I asked, ‘Why on earth did you do that? You must have known how hurtful it would be to your Jewish classmates. They said they didn’t know what it meant, but I think they knew. It was tasteless,” she said.

Following the incident, which was shared on social media, the students visited the Holocaust Museum and the Shoah Foundation. Schloss received a letter from the school saying that the students’ attitudes had changed completely.

“There are some wonderful young people out there,” Schloss said. “I’m optimistic. I wasn’t always, but I am now.”


    For tickets to the Nov. 25 event, go to jewisholney.com/eva.

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