Holocaust survivor, step-sister of Anne Frank shares message in West Michigan

Posted at 3:53 PM, Sep 06, 2017
and last updated 2017-09-06 15:54:26-04

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. -- With each passing year, our ability to hear firsthand the harrowing accounts of Holocaust survivors dwindles. But Eva Schloss is making sure the message of her fellow survivors lives on, and the West Michigan community can hear that message during three separate speaking events featuring Schloss this week.

Schloss is a Holocaust survivor and step-sister of Anne Frank, perhaps the most prominent Holocaust victim to emerge from the genocide that alone left many millions dead, including six million Jews.

Schloss and her family emigrated from Vienna to the Netherlands in 1938, as the Nazi Party came to prominence in Germany. “Many, many of our relatives didn’t get a chance and were deported to the ghettos and then just disappeared,” said Schloss.

While in Holland, she met Ann Frank and her family and grew close with them until the German invasion of the Netherlands that sent both of their families into hiding.

Frank, famous for her widely-published diary, was captured and did not survive in a concentration camp, a fate shared by Schloss’ father and brother. But Schloss and her mother survived for years in Auschwitz and were finally liberated by Soviet forces in 1945.

After the war ended, the two decimated families came together. Having already built a relationship through their time in Holland, Schloss’ widowed mother married Otto Frank, Anne’s widower father.

“[They] were married for 27 years and had a very happy life nonetheless that they both had lost their first families,” said Schloss.

Schloss remembers her friend and later step-sister as a creative and outgoing girl.

“Very often people ask me, ‘What would have become of her?’” said Schoss. “Well, you don’t know. She could have become a journalist, she could have become a politician, a writer.”

“I looked up [to] her because she was a really very outgoing character.”

She also recalls reading bits and pieces of her friend’s diary before it became one of the most important texts of the Holocaust era.

Schloss remained silent about her time in hiding and in Auschwitz – even to her family – until 1986. Since then, she has spoken at countless events, authored three books and has become a trustee of the Anne Frank Educational Trust. She is also the subject of the James Still play “And Then They Came For Me: Remembering the World of Anne Frank.”

Schloss says her story still carries weight, especially in today’s political climate. To her, it’s a moral of doing the right thing, even when you don’t have to.

“I think everybody everywhere in the world shouldn’t be bystanders when they see injustice being done,” she said. “It’s an easy attitude to take, you know, ‘Well it’s not me, I don’t care.’ But this is what we must – we must care what happens around us and speak up.”

Schloss will have three speaking events this week:

Wednesday, September 6 @ 7:00 p.m.
Kellogg Hotel & Conference Center
Michigan State University
219 S Harrison Road
East Lansing, MI 48823

For ticket information, click here.

Thursday, September 7 @ 7:00 p.m.
Fetzer Center
Western Michigan University
2350 Business Court
Kalamazoo, MI 49008

For ticket information, click here.

Sunday, September 10 @ 7:00 p.m.
East Grand Rapids High School Performing Arts Center
2211 Lake Drive SE
East Grand Rapids, MI 49506

For ticket information, click here.