Schloss, Anne Frank’s stepsister, to speak in Livermore
By Lou Fancher
Seventy years after the publication of Anne Frank’s diary, her stepsister, Eva Schloss, continues to inform and extend collective memory of the Holocaust while sharing her message about the power of love and healing.
Frank’s diary was first published in Dutch and then in English in 1952, and has become an iconic representation of the horrors of the Holocaust. Schloss, 88, has devoted her later years to telling the story of the six million Jews killed by the Nazi regime.
She’s done it through thousands of appearances, three books and recently, “116 Cameras,” one of 10 nominations in the 2018 Academy Award category for Best Short Documentary.
Chabad of the Tri-Valley, a Pleasanton-based Jewish community center of Jewish life, hosts Schloss Feb. 13 at the Bankhead Theater in Livermore. Rabbi Raleigh Resnick will moderate the conversation, as he did in 2013, when Schloss visited the Bay Area.
“The fact that it’s the 70th anniversary (of the diary) gives added significance to Mrs. Schloss’s tour and story,” said Resnick. “I will be focusing on her story and look forward to having our audience hear a firsthand account of the publishing of the historic diary and a real feeling for Anne Frank’s experience in hiding.”
Along with telling the story of how the diary was discovered and came to be published, Schloss said by phone from London, where she lives, that she will speak of her experience as a refugee.
“Certainly I was a refugee and see how difficult it is for refugees now since they can’t get out of the country and are not being welcomed,” she said. “I will mention that the world has to accept those refugees and make life possible for them — or make the world so we won’t get any refugees.”
People’s ongoing interest in Frank is amazing, she suggests. “There are so much new things coming out about Anne Frank: new books, new films, new plays, new articles. So the message is still there; especially when you look at (the topics) she mentioned in ’44 and ’43: the rights of women, the evil of people and how we can stop it. It’s accurate for this time as well,” she said.
People of all ages are concerned about wars, the influx of refugees, the environment, plastic, the seas, planetary warming and more, Schloss said. Rising global anxiety, she said, causes people to seek hopeful messages for a better world. Perhaps because she herself survived the Auschwitz-Birkenau concentration camp and loss of her brother and father, among others, she said she considers continuing to tell the Holocaust story a vital obligation, a responsibility.
That is why she embraced with enthusiasm the 15-minute documentary that presents Schloss sharing her experience in hologram form, which enables people to interact in a “virtual conversation.” Questions gathered over a period of years by the filmmakers were posed — and answered by Schloss — to preserve history. People can ask the virtual Schloss a question and receive an animated, almost-like-real-life reply.
“It sounded very interesting and it is something which Holocaust survivors worry about. What will happen when we are not around anymore and can’t give any testimony?” she asks. “So this is sort of a solution.”
Schloss said that although it’s not exactly like a live appearance, she has seen its effect on audiences. “School children showed the film in New York asked questions and seemed very satisfied, so it’s a wonderful idea.”
Schloss saids she was delighted by the process used while recording segments of the film. “I like that I’m sitting there and they have a clapboard, like in a film. Every hour it had to be reset because the cameras only work one hour, so I could move around a little bit. When I came back again, I had to sit in the exact (same) position so they measured (the placement of) my hands and feet and everything. I found it very interesting.”
The first-hand account serves as a fitting precursor to the inside stories Schloss will share during this year’s visits in the Bay Area. Resnick said signed copies of Schloss’s autobiography, “The Promise,” will be available for purchase.