GRAND RAPIDS, MICH. - A Holocaust survivor and the step-sister of Anne Frank is sharing her story in West Michigan this weekend.
Eva Schloss, 88, says it took her 40 years to talk about her experience at Nazi death camp. She says, “It was too horrendous, I suppressed it."
In 1929, Schloss was born to a Jewish family, in Austria. When Hitler took over the country in 1938, her mother, father and brother immigrated to Holland. Eva says it was a happy time. "I got a bicycle, I was blonde and blue-eyed and everybody said you're fitting in like a little Dutch girl."
It was there that Eva met a girl who would become one of the most famous voices of the Holocaust, Anne Frank. "She took me up to her apartment because I didn't speak much Dutch and met her family."
Three months later, the Germans invaded Holland. Eva's family had to split up and go into hiding. Eva went with her mother; her brother went with her father. In 1944, Eva and her mother were captured by the Nazis. Both were sent to the Auschwitz-Birkenau death camp. "Forty of the women including my mother was picked out to be gassed. The naked women were marched out and that was it."
A year later, the camp was liberated by the Russians. Ava survived the holocaust and was reunited with her mother. "My mother didn't know if I was alive. It was amazing, just amazing."
The two made it back to Holland. Eva's father and brother, did not. Neither did her friend, Anne Frank. "I had survived hoping we would get back to our good life, but when I realized that wouldn't happen, I got very depressed."
Eva's mother eventually married Anne's father, who later published his daughter's diary that had been left in their home. "He was amazed about her wisdom and the things she was speaking about."
For many years, Eva says she took a back seat to Anne's story, not speaking about her own experience.
In 1988, she finally published her own book and began speaking to groups around the world. Her message is one of hope, tolerance and inspiration. "I tell people you can't sit silent. You have to have an opinion. Take interest in what's going on, and speak up."
The Chabad Center of Western Michigan brought Schloss to the Grand Rapids area. She will be speaking Sunday at the East Grand Rapids Performing Arts Center at 7pm. Tickets are available by calling 616-957-0770. You can also visit chabadwm.com for more information.
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