A historic evening with Anne Frank’s stepsister: Eva Schloss (At the University of Minnesota)

Eva’s life started in 1929 in a very happy, loving Jewish family in Vienna. Her brother, Heinz, was three years older and was a reader, musician, and painter. As a six year old, he would read out books and tell Eva the stories. At school, Eva noted that although jews and catholics were allowed to be friends, they were separated during their respective religion classes. Fast forward a few years to 1938, and Nazi Germany annexed Austria. Nine year old Eva was shocked by the sudden display of Swastikas on the streets by her friends. She also noted that her best friend’s mother(who was catholic)  slammed a door in her face one day and told her to never come back to their house. Eva’s father, Erich decided to move his family to Belgium at this time. Since they were not allowed any furniture, they bought a pre-furnished house in Brussels. The furniture included a piano and this naturally delighted Heinz. After two great years in Belgium, the family was forced to emigrate to Amsterdam. This is where eleven year old Eva met an eleven year old Anne Frank, who came up to meet Eva with a sweet hello. Eva and Anne would spend time together every day. Anne hated Math, but really enjoyed talking. She would often be made to write “I will not talk in class” a 100 times after class. In Eva’s mind, Anne was far more mature than she was. Being very interested in boys, Anne wanted to go to Eva’s house to meet Heinz. Sadly, Heinz was not interested in a girl his sister’s age.

1940-42 were good years for Eva. Although they were restrictive(Jews had to go to different shops, travel separately), there was not any significant danger. In 1942, both Heinz and Margot(Anne’s elder sister) were summoned to Germany to work. Not trusting this summoning, both Erich and Otto Frank(Anne’s father) took their families into hiding. Sadly, Erich could not find a place for the family of four, so Heinz went with his father, and Eva went with her mother. Eva was a ‘sporty girl’, and hence had a tough time in hiding sitting in the same place. Erich and Heinz had to move around as they couldn’t keep up with the rent, but eventually found a place near Eva and Elfriede(Eva’s mother). On Eva’s 15th birthday, in the May of 1944, as the entire family had met up to celebrate, Nazi soldiers burst into the house and captured the family. Eva was interrogated and brutally beaten by the Nazi soldiers. However, she was in much too much shock to say anything.

The family eventually was sent to Auschwitz by train. Eva recalls that this train journey was the last time her family was together. On reaching the camp they immediately were separated, Eva and her mother were separated from her father and brother. They were made to strip naked, shaved, and given striped clothes with shoes and a number. Eva couldnt believe how cruelly the Nazi soldiers would mistreat the women without reason. Eva describes many miracles leading to her surviving, including how running into an old friend saved her from dying from typhus. She had to live in sub human conditions for almost six months before the liberation of Auschwitz by Soviet troops. She did meet her father a couple of times before the liberation. For a while, she believed her mother to be dead, but she later learnt her mother had escaped the gas chamber miraculously.

Eva would go on to learn of the death of her brother and father after liberation, which led her to spiral into depression for many years to come. Eventually, she would meet her husband for 63 years, Zvi Schloss in London. Her mother and Otto Frank fell in love and got married in 1953. Eva recalls the first she saw Anne’s diary. Otto brought the diary to show to Eva and Elfriede and would burst into tears on reading it. He took three weeks to read it, and eventually published a first hand account of the most horrific genocide of all time, from the perspective of precocious teenage girl.

Eva now has three children and five grandchildren. She leaves audiences shocked by relating the atrocities endured by her family during the Holocaust and inspires them with her faith in humanity. She is not just a survivor, but also a victor of the Holocaust.

WhatsApp Image 2019-10-27 at 9.20.25 PM