Just before half term we were very privileged to be visited by Eva Schloss. Eva is 90 years old, a survivor of the Auschwitz death camp and the step-daughter of Anne Frank’s father. We were able to fill the school hall with the whole of Year 10, over 100 sixth formers and a number of invited guests.
Eva spoke for 45 minutes and you could have heard a pin drop in the Hall throughout her account of her life, from her early childhood in Vienna to her hiding from Nazi occupation in Amsterdam through to her capture and arrival in Auschwitz. Her description of life in the camp and of her will to survive was in contrast to the feelings she described of her years after the war when life had so little meaning because of all she had lost.
Fortunately for all of us who heard her speak, she regained her joy in life through her own family and, now a widow, she devotes her life to telling others of her life and experiences. Amongst the many reactions from students…
“Recently, we had an assembly with Eva Schloss, a Holocaust Survivor, talking about her experience. Whilst feeling extraordinarily fortunate to have been able to hear such a moving talk, it made me realize how lucky we are not to have to experience what she has been through from a young age. At the end of the talk, Eva also gave an important message to not be a by-stander, and after what she said, I was sure that every Year 10 felt fortunate to have heard a personal experience of the Holocaust because the main hall was silent before applauding.”
“It was a very interesting talk and it induced a lot of feelings. It made me personally feel weak compared to how strong these people who endured this terrible event are. The personal account brought it to life. Reading about it in a text book is one thing but hearing a real account is something completely different. It made you really believe in luck.”
“It made me reflect a lot on how we need to pay more attention to that part of history, as it was such a significant event. Even though it was so hard, it made me realise that our arguments are nothing in comparison to what these people went through. It teaches you to be strong regardless of how hard it was getting.”
Eva has kindly donated signed copies of the three books that she has written and these will be available to borrow from the school library.
She gave a talk at the Watermill Theatre the evening before she came to St Bart’s. We are grateful to the team at the Watermill for making Eva’s visit to us possible.