FAIRFIELD — “I’m not a youngster,” 83-year-old Eva Schloss said via telephone from her home in London.
That being said, Schloss is grateful to have lived more than eight decades. She survived nine months in the Auschwitz-Birkenau concentration camp. She was 15 at the time.
It took her more than four decades to talk about that period in her life.
Local residents can hear her story at 7:30 p.m. Jan. 15 at the Vacaville Performing Arts Theatre. Chabad of Solano County, a Vacaville-based community center of Jewish life, is hosting the event.
Schloss also happens to be the stepsister of Anne Frank. Her mother married Frank’s father after World War II.
While Frank died in the concentration camp, Schloss had been neighbors with the Franks in Amsterdam, when Anne Frank was about 11. The pair often played together, passing the time by skipping, playing hopscotch and marbles, and drinking lemonade.
While they weren’t best friends, Schloss said she knew Frank. However, it’s not a characteristic of Frank’s that she wants people to remember most.
“It’s the message she leaves,” Schloss said. “You don’t have to wait to do something good in the world.”
Being put on the spot by the mayor of London at an Anne Frank exhibit helped Schloss find her voice. There was plenty to say. She felt mankind had not learned from the Holocaust.
“I was hit hard with the Vietnam war and when the boat people tried to escape and the big ships passed them up,” she said “I thought, ‘we haven’t come very far.’ ”
Schloss said it’s easier to share her story now, but there’s also a sense of urgency to share it.
“(Holocaust) survivors won’t be around many more years,” she said. “It’s up to the new generation to keep the story alive.”
Today, Schloss said, many youngsters know about the Holocaust, but really don’t realize what happened. She has had people ask her questions, such as whether she was able to take her pet to the concentration camp with her.
“We weren’t supposed to come out alive,” Schloss said.
Others have asked her if Anne Frank is still alive.
Schloss, whose maiden name was Geiringer, made her way to England where she married Zvi Schloss. The pair recently celebrated their 60th wedding anniversary. They have three daughters and five grandchildren.
She hopes those attending her Vacaville presentation will learn that there are still many people who want to deny the Holocaust happened and that something so horrendous can have its roots in bullying and escalates from there.
“We are all equal. We all want the same thing,” she said. “We want to live in peace. Have a good job. Bring up our family. Have a good education.”
Schloss has penned two books, which she will bring to Vacaville. A third is due out in April.
“It’s more comprehensive than the other two,” she said, adding it explores political situations in Germany, Austria, Israel and Palestine.
Paintings done by Heinz Geiringer, Schloss’ brother, will be on display in Vacaville. He died in a concentration camp when he was 17. After the war, Schloss returned to the family home and found more than 20 of her brother’s paintings buried under the floorboards.
Reach Amy Maginnis-Honey at 427-6957 or email@example.com. Follow her on Twitter at www.twitter.com/amaginnisdr.