Holocaust survivor warns: 'Don't just be accepting' | February 9, 2018 | Pleasanton Weekly | PleasantonWeekly.com |

Pleasanton Weekly

Arts & Entertainment - February 9, 2018

Holocaust survivor warns: 'Don't just be accepting'

Anne Frank's stepsister to speak, on diary's 70th anniversary

by Dolores Fox Ciardelli

Holocaust survivor Eva Schloss, 88, has a specific message for teens who will hear her presentation next week at the Bankhead Theater in Livermore.

"They should get involved and know what is going on in the world," she said. "They should speak up and not just be accepting."

She gave this advice in response to a question from Amador Valley High School journalism students who interviewed her via conference call last week at her home in London.

"Speak up and don't just be accepting," Schloss said. "In Germany not everyone agreed with what Hitler was doing, but people didn't have the courage to speak up."

Chabad of the Tri-Valley is hosting Schloss' visit as part of a tour that falls on the 70th anniversary of the publication of "The Diary of Anne Frank." Eva and Anne were friends and became stepsisters posthumously after the war when Eva's mother, Fritzi Geiringer, married Otto Frank.

The Geiringer family left Austria after the Nazis invaded in 1938, moving to Holland, where one of their neighbors was a German Jewish girl of the same age, Anne Frank. Eva recalls playing hopscotch and marbles and Mrs. Frank making lemonade for them.

The Nazis invaded Holland in 1940, and in 1942 both the Geiringer and Frank families went into hiding. Eva and her mother had to be hidden separately from her father and brother, and they were shuffled from one secret spot to another. On Eva's 15th birthday, May 11, 1944, she and her mother were to be moved again, but the alleged helper was a Nazi double agent who brought them to Gestapo headquarters in Amsterdam.

"I was in shock when the Nazis arrested us," Eva recalled in a 2008 interview. "I didn't cry at first. My mother yelled that I was not Jewish saying she'd had an affair with a German. I did have blonde hair. But it didn't help.

"Then I was beaten. I was asked repeatedly for the names of Dutch resistance people who had hidden us. Luckily I never knew their real names."

They were briefly reunited with her father and brother in a Dutch holding camp then transported to Auschwitz-Birkenau where Eva and Fritzi survived the "selection" process and its humiliations, typhus and heavy work in a freezing room. When the Russians arrived in January 1945, the mother and daughter, the sole survivors of their family, returned to their old neighborhood in Amsterdam where Otto Frank had just learned of the deaths of his wife and daughters in Bergen-Belsen.

Eva eventually settled in England, where she worked as a studio photographer and ran an antique shop. She married Zvi Schloss and raised three daughters.

Otto and Fritzi married in 1953. They lived in Switzerland, and he spent the rest of his life spreading Anne's message from her diary: "I still believe that deep down human beings are good at heart."

The diary was published in Amsterdam in 1947; the English translation, "Anne Frank: The Diary of a Young Girl" came out in 1952 to worldwide acclaim, which surprised the family.

"When we were visiting them, they got letters and phone calls," Schloss remembered, "but we were not personally involved."

Since 1985, Eva Schloss has devoted herself to Holocaust education and global peace, recounting her wartime experiences in more than 1,000 speaking engagements around the world. She has written two books and had a play written about her life, "And Then They Came for Me."

A film about her, "116 Cameras," was among 10 semifinalists for 2018 Academy Award for Best Short Documentary. It follows Schloss in a project to preserve her life story as an interactive hologram for future generations.

Schloss said when she began to speak publicly about the Holocaust, her audiences were less informed.

"People didn't know anything about this and they were full of questions," she said. "Now people know a lot more -- and they are worried about, 'How can I cope with the situation now?'"

Rabbi Raleigh Resnick noted that the event is part of the ongoing effort by the Chabad of the Tri-Valley to bring Jewish life to the area.

"Mrs. Schloss dedicates her life to this to eradicate bigotry and hatred in the world," Resnick said. "The main focus of this evening is the youth -- these children will tell their grandchildren that they saw Anne Frank's stepsister and friend."

The evening will include an exhibit of paintings created by Eva's brother Heinz when he was in hiding, which were discovered after the war.

Sharing history

What: A Historic Evening with Eva Schloss, Holocaust survivor and stepsister of Anne Frank, whose iconic diary was published 70 years ago. Event will include a Q&A and book signing.

When: 7:30 p.m., Tuesday, Feb. 13

Where: Bankhead Theater, 2400 First St., Livermore

Tickets: $36 general admission; $20 seniors and students; $90 VIP, includes priority seating and private pre-event reception with Mrs. Schloss. Go to www.JewishTriValley.com.

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