EAST GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — It was a historic evening at East Grand Rapids High School Sunday as a holocaust survivor spoke about the persecution of Jews and escaping Austria during Adolf Hitler’s reign.
Eva Schloss, 88, was born in Vienna, Austria and is the stepsister of Anne Frank.
Schloss’ family emigrated from Belgium and then Holland not long after Hitler annexed Austria in 1938.
She said in the time leading up to World War II, few counties would accept Jews who were trying to flee their home countries. However, her father was able to get some temporary permits to Amsterdam, which is where she met Frank.
“It was just the four of us at that time that got out. I missed my grandparents very much and my newborn little cousin. And I became very shy and withdrawn really,” Schloss said.
In Amsterdam, the classes were all taught in French. Schloss said she didn’t know anyone and it was difficult being away from her home country. But then she met Anne Frank and they became fast friends.
“Anne was very, very sure of herself. She spoke the language perfectly and she was very, very lively. And at first she wanted to be the center of attention. She was a big checker box,” Schloss said.
Jews were required to wear yellow stars as the persecution escalated.
In 1942, Schloss said her family went into hiding for two years as the Nazis invaded. But she was captured by the Nazis and sent to the Auschwitz-Birkenau concentration camp.
Schloss said her father, brother and most of her friends perished in the Holocaust. She and her mother were the only ones who survived.
According to her website, Schloss was in disbelief and emotional when the camp she was in was liberated by the Russians.
“They shared their bread and water with us, I cried. That was a kind, human action,” her website stated.
After the war, Schloss’ mother married Otto Frank, the widowed father of Anne Frank.
Schloss also began sharing her story to prevent future atrocities. Sunday night, she was interviewed by special guest Tami Weiss, who is a professor at the University of Wisconsin.
Watch an extended version of that interview below.