I was born in
Only my mother
and I survived. My father and brother did not. My mother and I were liberated
by the Russian army in January 1945 and evacuated eastward into
I resumed my education and eventually passed my matriculation examination. I then studied History of Art at
Zvi and I live in
In 1988 Evaís Story was published, providing
many opportunities for me to share my experiences. In 1995, I cooperated with playwright James
Still in the creation of the educational play, And Then They Came for Me:
Remembering the World of Anne Frank about four teenagers in the Holocaust.
The play has been widely performed and I have had the honor of sharing my experiences in
cities across the
Many individuals respond to my story expressing shock, deep sadness and concern. Some communities act on these concerns, share their stories of the past and their hopes for the future, listen to the older generation and enlighten the youth. youth
Eva at the Stadsarchief
Amsterdam, the exhibition ĎIn
Anne Frank's Step-Sister, Eva, Remembers
News: Holocaust Survivor Visits Lambert School
County Register introduces Eva
In 1999, Eva
joined United Nations Secretary General Kofi Annan signing the Anne Frank Peace
Declaration, along with a niece of Raul Wallenberg, a Schindler-like hero who
rescued thousands of Jews in Budapest.Ē
Remembers the Holocaust
county star presents Eva
Eva meets a young student signing the Anne Frank Declaration
INTERVIEW OF EVA with middle school students in March 2002 and February 2003
Were there any other groups that Germans were trying to kill besides the Jews and the Gypsies?
Yes, there were other groups,
you know, Hitler had this idiotic race policy. The German people were the
future, and the other races were supposed to be slaves or just to be
eliminated. There were physically and mentally handicapped people, even
Germans; they definitely were killed. A lot of political people who were
against the system, communists as well a lot of Polish people and Russian
people, and homosexuals, gay people, Jehovahís witnesses; any people who might
not go along with the system.
You had to have identification papers- everybody had to have identification papers. People would stop you in the street and you had to show your papers. Every Jewish person had a number on their papers. When a child was born, you had to register with the Jewish community, so all the papers were there and you had to have the papers with you.
What was it like to be in hiding?
Yes. I moved first from
It happened every few
weeks. Before we were arrested (we couldnít show this in the play) we had
to change hiding places very often because after several months, people became
very nervous because this happened all the time and they thought they might
find us one day. There was so much tension that they said, you know,
weíre sorry, you have to look for a different hiding place. In this place we were in AT
the end, we didnít really have a hiding place yet, and we were really betrayed
so people knew that we were there.
In general, those
people were arrested as well and were sent to concentration camps. Not to
Not when we came to the
camp. They just looked you over, they didnít really go by size or by age,
but how you looked. But maybe there was a time when they did it the way
you describe. There were definitely no
children in the camp at
We had to get up at
four oíclock when we had our roll call, and we didnít get to bed until eight or
nine oíclock. But, again, we didnít have
watches, so we didnít even know exactly.
But we were always very tired.
It varied from week to
week, sometimes from day to day. The best work I did was three weeks in a
work command called Canada, which was a nickname people in the camp gave it
meaning plenty; freedom. It was really very sad work because we had to
sort through the belongings of the people who had come to the camp.
Everything was taken away and by the time we sorted those belongings most of
those people had already been killed. We had to open all the hems of the
garments because many people brought valuables to the camp hoping they could
bribe their way out- all this we had to collect. We found many
photos. A lot of what we found was sent
As children, we
donít take things so seriously at first, but the Germans were very
clever. Very slowly they made it more difficult, but not
immediately. So first we were not allowed this, but you could still do
this. Then you were not allowed that, but you could still do this. So, we took it, we accepted it at
first. But then things got really hard, and sometimes we were really
What role did your mother play in helping you keep your will to live while you were in the camp?
First of all, just
being there. Her presence helped me a lot, and then of course, she very
often gave me her bread ration. She gave me courage and I gave her
courage as well, so being together was a great help for us. But you didnít see this in the play,
unfortunately. At one point she was selected out to be gassed and for
three months I though she was dead and this was really my worst time in the
camp. But she was not, she survived, she died only three years ago, she
was 93, so I had her a long time, this was really wonderful. But, in the camp, there came a time when the
things reversed suddenly. Suddenly I was looking after her, and I grew
up, this was for me a very important moment that I felt. You know she is
not able to look after me anymore; I have to look after her.
Do you remember celebrating the holidays in the concentration camp? Did you get to do anything? Did you remember when they were during that whole time?
No, we never even
knew what day of the week it was. We really lost track. We never had
any possibilities or extra food. Everyday was the same as the next day.
Did you experience any help from any Nazis?
I did not experience any help from any Nazi. I did not get to know any soldiers. They were very distant and did not make eye contact with anybody. They treated us, not as individuals, but as a group of animals. They were taught that you must never consider the enemy as a person. I think in the beginning that the Germans were brainwashed. But unfortunately they did not question what they were told, or what they were doing as time went on.
It was shocking to find out how horrible the camps were. How did you survive them?
I was really one of the
lucky ones. Millions of other people
didnít survive it, and itís good that you know about this because a lot of
people donít often realize what it really meant. Very often people ask me
a question Ö Did you make friends? What
did you do for entertainment? Did you
have free time? And you know, there was just nothing. We were waiting for death. Who died
before that was one person less that they had to kill. So they made life
as difficult and terrible as possible. There were terrible illnesses-
typhus, dysentery, choleraÖ thousands of people just died from exhaustion, from
lack of food. But, some were lucky to get through.
Did you think about dying in
When we were in
How did you escape from
We did not escape from the concentration camp. The camp was abandoned by the Germans, and we were waiting to be liberated by the Russians.
Yes, I have it on my arm,
Iíll show it to you, but itís really much smaller than everyone elseís.
This was the only compassion I ever experienced in the camp, that this woman
gave me a small and weak tattoo. (at the request of Evaís mother)
We knew each other for
two years, and she was just one month younger than me. We played
together, we saw each other almost every day because after school, all of the
children went out in the street to play, now you canít do that anymore, itís
not safe, but at the time it was actually very popular, itís what we did. But she was more sophisticated than I
was. Already she was interested in boys, she liked to have a boyfriend,
and she liked parties. I had a brother, for me a boy, a boy was nothing
special. We were not great friends, but we were friends, yes.
How did your mother and Mr. Frank meet?
This is a nice part of
the story. Otto Frank came, after we had all gone home to
Was it hard for you when your mother married Otto Frank?
When my Mother was married
again, I was extremely happy for her, that she had found someone and could
"try" to be happy again. Otto
Frank was a very good stepfather to me, and a loving Grandfather. He was very caring, and treated my children
as if there were his own. But at the
same time I missed my father.
How did you feel when the war was over? How do you feel about surviving?
When the war was over I felt
thankfulness, but worry about my brother and father. I feel grateful that I
survived the Holocaust, and a sort of victory that Hitler did not kill all the
Did any other relatives survive?
I have some relatives who
escaped before the deportation to different countries. But of those who stayed behind, no one
How did you deal with the memories? Could you block them out of your mind?
You could not block your mind out about the memories because they were too vivid. You had to deal with seeing images of what happened all the time. This stayed with me for years.
I donít really have an exact
figure, but from the concentrations camps there were very, very few people.
10,000 people maybe? There were more people in hiding who hadnít gone
through this most terrible ordeal. There is no exact figure in the
different countries it was never really counted out.
How did freedom finally feel? Can you describe what freedom felt like after going through that?
It didnít come
until the Germans had left. But we
didnít really accept it at this timeÖ that we were liberated because the war
was still going on for five months afterwards.
We didnít really know how much longer it would go, and there was still
fierce fighting going on. We were with
the Russians and they had very little. Whatever they had they did share
with us, but we were still sleeping on the floor, we were still traveling in
cattle trucks and we saw terrible devastation. Many people even died
after liberation because when they got food, the body couldnít digest it and
they died from over-eating. We were very weak, so it took a long time to
realize that we had survived; really only when we were back in the West again,
and treated like human beings. When we
had sheets on our beds and proper cutlery, then we realized, but it was a
gigantic process, and we were very anxious about what had happened to our
family, so there was not really this rejoicing like you would have expected.
Do you have lingering health problems from the concentration camps? Do others you know? (this question references Evaís frostbite)
For many years I had
trouble with my toes, and I had digestive problems as well. After we got
back, I was on a diet of just pasta, rice and mashed potatoes- things like
that. I couldnít really digest heavier
foods for many, many years, and my mother was quite ill for many months after
liberation. But, the body is something very wonderful. My mother
was 93; Otto Frank was 91 when he died. Iím good on my feet and quite
activeÖ no problems.
Have you ever been back to
I did go back to
Do you wish to return to
I am very sorry that I cannot
Did you still have hope through all those scary times? Did you still have hope that everything would be happy again, and that youíd find your family again?
In life, if you give up
hope for a better future, you canít carry on, so you always keep your
hope. Deep down, I didnít believe it, but you have to just keep
hoping. For me, it turned out not really well, because I lost my father
and brother and this was something it took years and years for me to get
over. Iíve spoken to people who lost
family on September 11th, and it was that they were just sort of told that a
father or husband hadnít returned. This is much harder than when you see somebody
die in your own home, there is more closure. But if somebody just
disappears from your life, it is much, much more difficult to accept.
With my grandchildren,
I never talk about it. They are more removed from it, but they do know,
especially of course because Otto Frank was their grandfather, and so they grew
up with the story of Anne. I never really went into great details with
them because we are very close and I think it is just too painful knowing what
their grandmother has gone through. When my grandson was five or six, he
saw my tattoo and he asked me, what is this grandmother? So, I said to
him, well, itís my telephone number, because I didnít really want to tell
him. But now that theyíre older of course they do know. Iíve told
them, emotionally, I think they donít really want to feel it.
Who do you blame for the Holocaust?
I blame the world for the
Holocaust, because nobody tried to prevent it or to help. It was only after the war that we realized
how this tragedy could have been avoided, and how the was could have been
Iím curious about what your personal feelings are about God.
I think that this is an
important question. Many, many people did lose their belief in the existence of
God, me included. But after the war when I started to begin a normal
human life again, and I saw the wonderful things around me, I began to question
again. I thought life would be really meaningless if you just live it out
and thatís it. I looked at nature, I looked at the births of my children
and grandchildren and I thought itís really all so wonderful, so marvelous,
that there must be something really higher. And again, I questioned, was
it the responsibility of God in the camps? And I decided no, itís our
responsibility. God gave us free will, and it is up to us to choose
between good and evil. This is a great gift we got from God, and you
know, Iím a believer, and Iím a strong
Jew, and I would never change my faith.
Yes, it was much later, in
1988, so it was 43 years. Most of the survivorsí stories were written in
the 80s or even later. Just after the war, or in the 50s and 60s, nobody
was able to do that.
Why did you write your book, Evaís Story?
I was inspired to write my book when I realized that the world had not learned what really happened. I felt it necessary to tell what happened so that others would realize the truth and hopefully learn from it. I share my story with children to teach them that hatred is destructive, and it is much better to live with love and helpfulness.
How long did it take to organize this play? (to develop the script; this production)
The script was written
in 1995 by James Still, and he interviewed Ed and me, and he wrote seven
scripts and he did a lot of research and then we came to do the video. It
was a very long process; it took him about two years to get it together. The production itself, I think, about three
weeks in rehearsal and a lot of research before.
Iíve seen 500
performances, many, many different productions, in
What can we do to prevent this from happening again?
We can prevent this from
happening again by being more tolerant, choosing not to discriminate, not hate
minority groups. We must also speak up
about injustices. It is the task of
todayís generation to share what they have learned with their children.
What can be doing to understand what happened?
You can understand some of
what happening by reading about it, viewing documentary movies like
"Schindlerís List" and "The Pianist," visiting the
Have you read books about the Holocaust?
I have read many books about the Holocaust. They have a lot of similarity. But each person that survived had particular experiences that are very different as well.
Like some say, it is
partly to remember the twelve million people who were the victims of the Nazi
regime all over