Mar 11, 2020
by Vesta Copestakes
June 1942. Thirteen-year-old Anne Frank received a red and white checkered diary for her birthday.
The family had moved from Frankfurt to Amsterdam after Hitler rose to power in 1933. Now that Germany had invaded the Netherlands, persecution of the Jews began with mandatory restrictions such as curfews, shopping only between three and five o’clock (at stores with a placard that reads “Jewish Shop”), handing in their bicycles, and being branded with a yellow star worn on their clothing.
Anne was a social butterfly who spent her free time with friends; a “chatterbox” by her teacher Mr. Keptor’s critical description, but a quality that Anne embraced.
When her sister, Margot, received a call-up summons for a Nazi work camp two weeks later, the Frank family went into hiding.
In the “secret annex” hidden behind a movable bookcase on the upper floors of Otto Frank’s company, Anne’s new diary became her cherished outlet, where she could bare her soul. With the entries beginning with Dear Kitty, Anne would confide her deepest feelings in what would become the world’s most famous account of the Holocaust. Though difficult, they remained invisible for two years, until German police stormed the Achterhuis (annex) and deported shortly thereafter to Auschwitz.
Another girl, Eva Geiringer, had a parallel and overlapping story.
Her family had similarly fled from Vienna to Holland. Just a month apart in age, Eva became friends with Anne, skipping, playing hopscotch and marbles and drinking lemonade together.
Eva’s brother, Heinz, received the same summons as Anne’s sister, so her family too went into hiding. Father and son looked for a creative escape while in hiding. Both painted and wrote poetry, with Heinz also teaching himself six languages and composing music.
Having evaded capture for two years, the family was betrayed by a Dutch nurse, who turned out to be a double agent, and soon found themselves on the dreaded train to Auschwitz. It was Eva’s fifteenth birthday.
Eva miraculously escaped the infamous selection after her mother insisted she wore an overcoat and frumpy hat that made her look older than 15.
While Anne was relocated to the Bergen-Belsen concentration camp, where she would die a few months later, Eva and her mom, Fritzi, remained in Auschwitz. With the allies fast approaching, the Nazis fled with prisoners on a forced death march. Eva and her mother, exhausted and emaciated, decided to risk it and remain in the barracks to sleep. In the morning, the Nazis were gone.
A few days later, Eva saw a large figure in the distance, covered in brown fur and snow, thinking it was a bear. It was the Russians; there to liberate Auschwitz.
Eventually, Eva and her mom made their way back to Amsterdam, to retrieve Heinz’s paintings from under the floorboards of the attic in which they had hidden. It was then that they reconnected with Otto Frank, who had likewise returned. One of their protectors had found Anne’s diary with loose papers strews across the floor of the Annex after their arrest.
Otto and Fritzi worked together on the publication of Anne’s diary, and in 1953, the two married, making Eva and Anne posthumous stepsisters.
Marking 75 years since Anne’s death just months before the liberation, Eva Schloss (née Geiringer), now 90, has been invited to come and share her incredible story in Sonoma County. Hosted by Chabad Jewish Center of Petaluma in partnership with the JCC of Sonoma County and Jewish Federation of San Francisco it is a once in a lifetime opportunity to hear a firsthand glimpse into Anne’s life and her own amazing story of survival. Her uplifting message of tolerance, peace, and the power of the human spirit, is a vital one to be heard by adults and students alike.
Petaluma Veterans Memorial Hall: $25 General, $15 Students, $50 Preferred Seating, $100 VIP Seating & pre-event reception with Eva. www.AnneFrankPetaluma.com.
Signed copies of Eva’s book will also be available to purchase. Eva’s brother Heinz’s paintings will also be on display.
in Petaluma Thursday, March 19, 7pm
At the Petaluma Veterans Memorial Hall
1094 Petaluma Blvd S, Petaluma, CA 94952
Doors open: 6:00 • Event: 7:00pm
VIP Reception: 5:30
TICKETS: $25 General Admission (30 REMAINING) https://www.annefrankpetaluma.com/tickets
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