A Light in the Darkness: Holocaust Author Ignites Emotion
Abby Stein & Lilly Hetson, Co-Editor in Chief; Jr. Editor
February 24, 2012
Filed under Student Life
In mid-October Hubbard High school was lucky enough to hear from Eva Schloss, a Holocaust survivor who shared amazing tales of her survival and her personal life with students not only from Mrs. Wack’s classes, but telecasted throughout the entire school. She was a woman who was small in stature but large in bravery, as she expressed in her stories. It’s not every day that one hears an account on surviving the Holocaust from someone who had actually survived the Holocaust.
Schloss began her tale with the start of the Holocaust when she spent two months in hiding in her homeland of Austria. She discussed the fact that she hated living in hiding, mostly because she didn’t like being confined. While in hiding, many families had to live together. There were two hundred people living on the estate where Eva and her family hid. They lived in less-than-perfect conditions, but they didn’t have any other choice. If they came out of hiding, they would be sent to a labor camp for sure.
On Eva Schloss’s fifteenth birthday, she was captured and taken to Auschwitz. Auschwitz is known to this day as being one of the most brutal of all of the concentration camps during the time of the Holocaust. Jews were sent to work camps such as Auschwitz ultimately to be done away with, as part as Adolf Hitler’s plan for a perfect race, titled the Final Solution. In the camp, she was stuck with a definite schedule. The young prisoner never knew the exact day, week, month or even year; however, the imposed schedule was a definite. Every morning she was awakened early and accounted for in a 2-4 hour roll call. She then ate a breakfast of mainly liquids, participated in hard physical labor with no breaks, accounted for again in another 2-4 hour roll call, given dinner, sent to bed, and then the whole process would start again the next morning. Almost nine months after her capture, on January 27th, 1945, the Russians came in and liberated the camp. All of the captive Jews were freed, including Schloss.
After being freed from the horrors of Auschwitz, an emaciated Schloss and her mother moved to Amsterdam. It was in Amsterdam that Eva and her mother discovered that they were the only members of her family who survived. Eva was terribly heartbroken when she heard the news, and spoke of falling into a depression that lasted for quite some time. When the war ended, she was stuck with the memories of what happened in the camp, but she could not relate her stories to anyone. Why? Because the burden of telling brought up too much pain, and because no one really wanted to listen. She was afraid to tell people what had happened to her and the others in the camp, because many felt guilty when it came to these incidents since it seemed as though no one had stepped in in time or done enough to help those in the camps.
Schloss studied Art History at Amsterdam University. She stayed there for a year before moving to London to train as a professional photographer. It was Anne Frank’s father and Eva Schloss’s mother who convinced her to go into photography. She worked in a commercial studio in London for five years before she met the man who would eventually become her husband, Zvi Schloss. Zvi and Eva were married in 1952. Then, the following year, Eva’s mother married Otto Frank, the father of the late Anne Frank, a young Jewish girl famous for passing in the Holocaust and her award winning diary.
After their marriage, Eva and Zvi Schloss lived in London where they raised three daughters. Eva discussed her silence about her Holocaust experiences with her daughters until one day when everything just came pouring out of her. It was then that she decided to write a book so her memories wouldn’t be lost. She mentioned a memory of hers, an exchange between her father and her brother. Her brother was a very creative and talented person, but he was always consumed with thoughts of his own death and dying. One day he asked their father, “What will happen when we die?” and her father said, “If you have children, you’ll live through them.” Her brother said, “What if I die before then?” and her father said, “Everything that you’ve done before, you’ll leave behind.” This conversation between her brother and father were what helped convince Eva to write down her memories, so they could be left behind for not only her children, but for others in her memory.
Today, Eva Schloss and her husband travel to schools and other places so that Eva can share her experiences and memories with both students and adults alike. She said that there are people who believe that the Holocaust never occurred, and that is one reason why she wants her story and the stories of other survivors to be known. She says that we can “learn from history,” and she believes that “we have the power to create a better world for everyone on the planet.”
If you’d like to learn more about Eva Schloss, you can check out her books Eva’s Story: A Survivor’s Tale by the Stepsister of Anne Frank or The Promise: The Moving Story of a Family in the Holocaust by purchasing them from an online store like amazon.com. We would like to thank Mrs. Wack for inviting the wonderful speaker to our school, the Media Productions class for covering the event, Megan Marstellar for taking wonderful photographs, and Eva and Zvi for visiting our school, but especially Eva for sharing with us her memories.