On Tuesday, October 9, 2018, an “Historic Evening” with Eva Schloss, Stepsister of Anne Frank, took place at Lane Tech High School in Chicago, Illinois. The Chabad Jewish community in Lakeview was hoping to ensure that remaining Holocaust survivors had a way to share their personal stories of tolerance, diversity and triumph, wanting their stories to be remembered. At this once-in-a-lifetime evening, Eva, coming from London, shared her story of survival and personal memories of her stepsister Anne Frank.
Another special part of this evening was a display of paintings by her brother and father, Heinz and Erich Geiringer. This world-famous artwork was painted while in hiding, and portrays the stunning and impactful landscape of a Holocaust family’s life in an Amsterdam attic. Guests at the pre-event reception experienced a special presentation of Eva’s interactive survivor recording, courtesy of USC Shoah Foundation in association with Illinois Holocaust Museum. Chicago was first U.S. stop of a multi-city tour with Eva Schloss across the U.S. and Canada. Other visits will include: New York City; Long Island; Rockland County, NY; Nashville, Chattanooga, Memphis, New Orleans, Boston, Hartford, and more.
You can watch the Chicago event Video of Chicago
The evening was remarkable and memorable. Eva Schloss was Anne Frank’s childhood friend, neighbor, and later stepsister when the widowed Otto Frank married Eva’s mother. Eva’s children called Otto grandpa. Eva didn’t talk about Anne or the Holocaust for almost 40 years as she shared during her talk.
The crowd was moved beyond measure, completely absorbed and following Eva’s every word with rapt attention.
The evening began with an introduction by local high school student, Tova Love Kaplan, who delivered opening remarks. There were 1,400 in attendance in a packed auditorium at Lane Tech High School.
It was Rabbi Dovid Kotlarksy of Chabad of East Lakeview who organized this event.
Vered Hankin Kaufman
Rabbi Baruch Hertz
Rabbi Dovid Kotlarsky
Jacques Aaron Preis
Dana Sussman Johnson
The interview format allowed Eva to share her story in a meaningful way. The Moderator: Wendy Newberger, was very skilled as she asked Eva questions. Wendy was on the event host committee and is Chief Operations Officer, Jewish Child & Family Services. Eva’s is a story that is at once familiar, but absolutely unique. Listening to Eva’s story the horror of what she experienced was palpable and searing. Aside from her survival story, she described herself as a “tomboy”, not a great student but later, a photographer. She has written several books of which signed copies were available for purchase. These are available (check here)In addition, there are a limited number of signed books located at Chabad East Lakeview at 655 w Irving Park rd. If anyone would like to purchase them they can call 773-495-7127 to arrange to pick them up.
Eva answered a number of questions from audience members that included many students. It is hard to put together the person that Eva describes, the survivor and the woman who held the audience with complete attention, dignified, charming and self-possessed.
Listening to Eva Schloss, my thoughts returned to the first time I visited Amsterdam. I had a similar dilemma as I approached the Anne Frank House, before my visit there. It was impossible for me to imagine this lovely tree lined, calm street as a once horrible place where the unthinkable happened.
Photo credit: Shaina Benhiyoun