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Anne Frank’s stepsister shares rare history lesson with Rocklin

Eva Schloss invites the community to hear her story
By: Teresa O'Hanlon, Placer Herald correspondent
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Historic Evening with Anne Frank’s Stepsister

Who: Holocaust survivor Eva Schloss will share her experiences as the childhood friend and stepsister of Anne Frank, including accounts of the publishing of Anne's famed diary.

When: 7 p.m. Thursday, Jan. 17

Where: Rocklin Event Center, 2650 Sunset Blvd.

Cost: $18 in advance, $25 at the door. VIP package featuring priority seating and private reception with Schloss available

Tickets: visit www.jewishroseville.com or 677-9960

Eva Schloss will never forget her 15th birthday; the day a nurse betrayed her family and sent them all into the hands of the Third Reich. On Thursday, Jan. 17, residents of Rocklin will have the opportunity to meet the author, grandmother and Holocaust survivor who, as a teenager, lived the chaos and tragedy of the most destructive war in human history and crossed paths with one of the most compelling figures of the 20th century, Anne Frank.

Schloss will share her life experiences as the childhood friend and posthumous stepsister of Anne Frank. Her presentation is suitable for teenagers and she invites families of all faiths to hear her story.

“If someone has an 11-year-old and they want to bring them that’s fine, especially if they’ve been exposed to the time period or if they’ve read the diary,” shared Rabbi Yossi Korik, director of Chabad Jewish Community Center of Placer County. “I think it’s highly appropriate and they’ll be able to benefit from this experience in a tremendous way because it’s going to put a real picture to a very foreign and distant story and they are going to see a real-life connection and that spark of reality is tremendous.”

At the age of 8, Schloss was the little blonde Eva Geiringer who fled her homeland of Austria with her mother, following her father and older brother Heinz, to avoid persecution by the Germans, as did many Jewish families in 1938. After living in Belgium, the Geiringers sought a safer home in Amsterdam, Holland, where the children attended school and for a time lived an ordinary childhood, playing ball games, collecting marbles and hanging out with neighbors including Anne Frank, a popular and outgoing girl.

“We were both 11 and we were skipping and gossiping and doing little tricks with our bicycles,” Schloss remembered.

She called her friend “Anna,” short for Annelies, and quietly recalled how both she and her playmate would soon face the unthinkable. In 1942, the Geiringer family split up to escape Nazi persecution and spent two years in hiding.

“I came from a comfortable middle class to living as a poor refugee and it was very difficult,” Schloss said. “We had to move around six to seven times. It was really boring and frustrating. I wanted to go outside and play. It was just your mother’s company and it was scary because the Nazis did house searches to look for hidden Jews. They knocked on the doors and we had a hiding place within the hiding place.”

Schloss is especially dedicated to the memory of her brother and all the innocent children who perished during this dark time in history.

“You know in Holland, right before we went into hiding, Jewish people were not allowed to go to the movies and ‘Snow White’ was the first of this kind of film that came out in the 1940s and I could not go and see this film and I was very upset about it,” Schloss shared. “My brother Heinz put big cardboards up in our windows – he was a good artist – and on them he drew with colored chalks. He drew all the seven dwarfs and Snow White and he gave me a performance with singing and dancing and telling the story of Snow White. I thought this was just a wonderful part of him.”

Ultimately Schloss’ family was deported to the Auschwitz-Birkenau death camp, where she lost her beloved brother and father just days before liberation. She remembered the deathly cold, dreadful sanitation and the constant aching for food.

“At Berkenau we just had one garment and two shoes – never anything which fitted you – no underwear, for instance,” Schloss said. “When we went for a shower we left what we had on one side because it was full of lice and coming out of the other side we got another garment and two shoes.”

Years after the war, Schloss’ mother married Otto Frank, the only surviving member of the Frank family, so Schloss became Anne Frank’s posthumous stepsister.

“Otto Frank came to us one day after he found Anne and Margot had perished and he brought her diary to show us, as he always carried it with him,” Schloss remembered. “I thought what else has he got to live for – everything he had loved was gone – he had nothing, but the diary brought a ray of hope into his life. He always said, ‘I feel as if my little girl is still with me.’”

Today ,Schloss is married with three children and five grandchildren and travels the world to tell her difficult and insightful story to remind everyone that life is precious and fragile and love always makes a difference. For more information on her Rocklin visit, go to www.jewishroseville.com or call 677-9960.