EVA (Geiringer) SCHLOSS

EVA GEIRINGER was a young Jewish girl living iin Vienna, Austria when Adolf Hitler came to power in Germany.  As the threat of Hitler's march across Europe increased, Eva's parents decided that it was necessary to leave Vienna and move to Amsterdam, Holland.  This would keep them safe from Hitler and his advancing forces.  Amsterdam had remained neutral during World War I and the thought remained that this quaint little country would be  a safe sanctuary from The Third Reich.

But Hitler soon decided that Holland would be an essential acquisition in his quest for world power.  So it was that the Nazis invaded this country leaving Eva's family in fear for their lives.

But prior to Hitler setting his sights on this country, Eva would meet two pivotal people in her life.  While waiting for her mother at a dress shop one day, Eva encountered a girl her same age who was at the shop trying on some clothes.  The girl's name was Anne Frank.  And although the two girls did not have a lot in common, they became friends and played together in the square outside of the apartment building which their family's shared.  Eva would spend time at Anne's apartment and would meet her family --- Anne's mother Edith; her sister Margot; and Anne's father Otto Frank.

But Eva's and Anne's friendship would be cut short after the Nazi invasion.  Things became so dangerous for Jews in Amsterdam that it became necessary for the families of the two girls to go into hiding.  For the Geiringer family it meant hiding in two separate locations --- Eva and her mother at one location and Eva's father and brother at a different location.  This provided extra security in the event that two of them were captured then the other two would remain free.

But the Nazis were paying big money for informants to provide information on locations where Jews were hiding.  When all four members of Eva's family were forced to relocate, a double agent followed Eva and her mother to their new hiding place and they were arrested, along with Eva's brother and father.

After a few days at Westerbork, a transit camp, all four family members were transported to Auschwitz.  Eva and her mother were sent to Birkenau (adjacent to Auschwitz) while her father and brother were sent to the main camp at Auschwitz.

For the next nine months the Geiringer family would suffer through horrific conditions at Auschwitz.  Never knowing when their lives might end and what may be in store for them, they struggled through each day maintaining hope that they would all be re-united.  In January of 1945, with the Russian Army approaching the camp, the Nazis abandoned Auschwitz taking only those prisoners that they thought might survive.  Eva and her mother were left behind, with others, at the camp hospital --- presumably to die.  With the liberation of the camp by the Russians, Eva and her mother were soon on a train for the long trip back to Amsterdam.

But other problems were just beginning.  Where were Eva's father and brother?  And how would the family cope with putting their lives back together?

 

Upon their arrival in Amsterdam they visited several friends to let them know that they had survived.  But they were also to find out that the returning concentration camp prisoners were not entirely welcome in Holland.  Unlike many survivors Eva and her mother were able to return to their apartment and found it virtually untouched since the day they left to go into hiding.  But not everything was the same --- Eva's father and brother were still unaccounted for.

Weeks of anticipation went by before they finally received word that Eva's father and brother had died following the forced march to Mauthausen.  Not only did they need to rebuild their lives but they also had to deal with the deaths of loved ones.  Otto Frank had also returned to Amsterdam and visited them often.  On one particular day he brought a package with him.  Upon operning it he displayed Anne's diary which had been found by one of his workers after his family was arrested.  But with the diary came news of the deaths of Edith Frank as well as both Margot and Anne.  Otto Frank had lost his entire family.

Eva's mother began working with Otto on plans of publishing Anne's diary but life became very difficult for Eva as she had tremendous trouble dealing with the deaths of her family members.  Otto's constant presence in their home began to give Eva a way of dealing with the loss and the huge hate she had building up inside of her.  Otto explained to her that it was wrong to hate because of what was done to their family --- that she needed to appreciate what Eva and her mother still had.

To this end, Otto sent Eva to London to work with a photographer friend of his.  This relocation would begin to turn Eva's life around and she would soon meet Zvi Schloss, who would later become her husband.

During her time in London, the Anne Frank Exhibit played the city and Eva went strictly as an interested spectator.  When they asked her to get up and say a few words to the crowd she was petrified --- she had never spoken about her experiences during the war.  She felt, based on what she had seen and heard over the years, that no one would care.  But her story struck the audience immediately and she was asked to tour with the exhibit all over the U.K.

Her story soon spread to the United States and she became a world traveler telling her story in many different countries.  But her main focus was to speak to school children.  She felt that these people are just beginning their lives and perhaps her story could help them to understand what prejudice and hatred can lead to.

Eva has made it her life's work to speak to school children, adults, prisoners, civic groups and many others to help make sure that the Holocaust does not happen again.  Two plays. And Then They Came For Me and A Light In the Darkness, have been written about Eva's war experiences.

Now, IMAGES: Remembrances of the Holocaust - THE EVA SCHLOSS STORY tells her entire life story in a one-woman show that powerfully proclaims that Eva Schloss is a hero of our time.

 

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