Eva Schloss is an Auschwitz-Birkenau survivor, author, Holocaust education activist — and stepsister to Anne Frank. She travels the world to tell her story, and on September 7 she was at a Western Michigan University event presented by the Chabad of Kalamazoo. She was interviewed by her close friend and now co-presenter, Dr. Tami Weiss, Professor of Art Education at the University of Wisconsin-Stout. Weiss met Schloss in 2015 when she produced a play about Eva’s life, And Then They Came For Me: Remembering the World of Anne Frank by American playwright, James Still.
Schloss told about how she escaped Vienna after the Auschluss with her parents, Erich and Elfriede (Fritzi) Geiringer, and her older brother Heinz. They eventually settled in Amsterdam, where she became friends with her neighbor, Anne Frank, who was the same age. In 1942 the family went into hiding, and in 1944 they were betrayed by a Dutch nurse who had pretended to be helping but who was really a double-agent for the Gestapo. It was Schloss’s 15th birthday.
On the train to Auschwitz, Heinz told Schloss about paintings he’d made in hiding and had concealed below floorboards. Erich and Heinz perished days before liberation, and when Schloss later went in search of her male relatives in the men’s part of the camp, she came across Anne’s father Otto Frank instead. The three survivors—Schloss, Fritzi and Otto Frank — eventually drew close, and Fritzi and Otto married, thus making Schloss Anne’s stepsister.
After liberation, Frank came into possession of his daughter’s diary, crying repeatedly as he read it over the course of three weeks. Schloss, meanwhile, found her brother’s hidden paintings right where he’d said they’d be—under the floorboards of the place where he was in hiding. Schloss’s books, Eva’s Story and The Promise tell this story, and more. I asked Schloss about her experiences.