Posted Online: March 23, 2012, 9:17 pm

Holocaust survivor to give talk at Putnam

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By Jonathan Turner,

Eva Schloss
Anne Frank, known to the world for her World War II-era diary, and Eva Geiringer Schloss were born the same year and were friends and neighbors while growing up in Amsterdam.

Both of their families hid from the Nazis during World War II but were discovered and taken to concentration camps. Ms. Schloss and her mother survived and were freed by the Russians in January 1945. Anne Frank died at age 15 in March 1945, with her sister, in the Bergen-Belsen concentration camp.

When Ms. Schloss and her mother were among those prisoners liberated by the Russians at Auschwitz, and "they shared their bread and water with us, I cried. That was a kind, human action," Ms. Schloss wrote on her website,

The 82-year-old resident of London will be in the Quad-Cities for five days in early April, and she'll give a public talk on Monday, April 2, at the Putnam Museum, Davenport, in conjunction with the exhibit "Anne Frank: A History for Today," which opens March 31.

Part of the exhibit is "Paintings Created in Hiding," which features 30 reproductions of artworks by Erich and Heinz Geiringer, Ms. Schloss' father and brother. The Geiringer family lived in the same apartment building as the Frank family, but the families were not in hiding together. To keep occupied while in hiding, Erich and Heinz began to paint. The family eventually was found and sent to Auschwitz, where the men died.

Otto Frank became a friend of Ms. Schloss' mother, and they married in 1953, a year after Ms. Schloss did. She said the worldwide success of Anne's diary was unexpected.

"It is messages from a young girl, general problems about socialism, prejudice," Ms. Schloss said in a recent interview. "She had an opinion about it and was quite advanced for such a young girl. Before it was published, people said, 'Who would be interested in the thoughts of a little girl?'"

The diary, which has been translated into 60 languages, inspired a 1955 play by screenwriters Frances Goodrich and Albert Hackett, which they adapted to the screen for a 1959 movie.

Ms. Schloss decided to become an outspoken messenger of tolerance and compassion in 1985, five years after the death of Otto Frank. She has lived in London since 1951, when she became a professional photographer. For 25 years, she also ran an antiques shop.

Ms. Schloss received an honorary doctorate in civil law from the University of Northumbria, Newcastle, England, and is a trustee of the Anne Frank Educational Trust, U.K.

"I realized nothing much had really changed. There was still prejudice, discrimination," she said. "People were still ignorant; I had to really talk about it."

Ms. Schloss has written two books about her experiences, and, in 1995, she co-created the educational play "And Then They Came for Me: Remembering the World of Anne Frank," about teenagers in the Holocaust. It has been performed throughout the world, including several stagings in the Quad-Cities.

"It gives a good message," Ms. Schloss said. "It shows how people were brainwashed to believe all the propaganda that came out of Germany. It teaches people to think about what's going on in the world, speak up, not like the Germans, but have the courage to speak out, as well to forgive. The younger generation had nothing to do with it. You can't carry on the hate."

The multimedia play weaves together videotaped interviews of two Holocaust survivors, including Ms. Schloss, and re-created scenes from World War II performed by live actors.

In 2006, David Cameron, now England's prime minister, said of the play: "It is a great tribute to the immense moral courage of people like Eva Schloss and Anne Frank that, 60 years on from the end of the Second World War, reflecting on daily life stories can help us develop a fairer and better society in the 21st century."

The play will be performed April 3 at Augustana College, Rock Island, and at area schools.

"I think it's amazing," Caitilin Harbecke, an Augustana junior who is directing the play, said of Ms. Schloss' courage during the war. "I never would have been able to do that; I'd think I'd lose all hope."

She said she hopes audiences will take away an "awareness of what happened, trying to learn about our past so that it doesn't happen in the future." Ms. Schloss will attend the April 3 performance and will answer questions afterward.

"I think it will be an a amazing experience, will help us learn a lot," Mr. Harbecke said. "It will help us bring everything home that these were real people; this was a real event."

Ms. Schloss -- who spoke at Augustana in May 2008 -- also has loaned artifacts from the Frank family for display in the Putnam exhibit, including table linens and silverware monogrammed with Otto and Edith Frank's initials. The exhibit also includes photos of the Frank family and other occupants of the Secret Annex.

Implicit in the exhibit are the themes of scapegoating, bullying, anti-Semitism, racism, ethnic cleansing and genocide.

The exhibit introduces visitors to the events leading up to World War II, and the government-directed killing of Jews, Gypsies, the disabled, Slavs and others. It depicts individuals who chose to join the Nazi party and become perpetrators, those who were bystanders, as well as those who were willing to resist the Nazi tyranny.

Anne Frank events in Q-C

-- March 31-May 28: Exhibit "Anne Frank: A History for Today" on display, Putnam Museum, 1717 W. 12th St., Davenport.

-- April 2, 5:30 p.m.: Dinner with Eva Schloss, stepdaughter of Otto Frank, at the Putnam Museum. Visit the exhibits “Anne Frank: A History for Today” and “Paintings Created in Hiding” by Eva’s father and brother. Adults $20, students $12. To register for this event, call (563) 324-1933 by March 28.

-- April 3, 7 p.m.: Play "And Then They Came for Me: Remembering the World of Anne Frank" performed in Wallenberg Hall, Denkmann Memorial Building, 3520 7th Ave., Rock Island. Ms. Schloss will answer questions afterward. Free admission.

-- April 10, 4-5:30 p.m.: Art reception in conjunction with the exhibit “A Tribute to Children in the Holocaust” at the Rock Island Downtown Public Library. Barbara Powers will discuss the exhibit and experiences of the children it honors.

-- April 10, 5:30 p.m.: Book talk on "The Promise: The Moving Story of a Family in the Holocaust" by Barbara Powers and Eva Schloss at the Rock Island Downtown Public Library.

-- April 15, 4 p.m.:  Film "The Rescuers" shown at the Putnam's Giant Screen Theater. The latest film from Emmy Award-winner Michael King uncovers the largely unknown stories of 13 heroic and courageous diplomats who saved tens of thousands of Jews during World War II. $5 for adults, free for students. Call (563) 324-1933.