Eva Schloss, the step-sister of the late Anne Frank, has paid a visit to Streatham & Clapham High School.

Anne Frank, who died in Bergen-Belsen at the age of 15, wrote a diary documenting her time hiding from the Nazis during their occupation of Holland. Her diary has sold more than 30 million copies and been translated into over 70 languages.

Eva Schloss, aged 90, was a child refugee, first fleeing Nazi persecution in her native Austria to Belgium and then Holland where she was a childhood friend of Anne Frank.   

Eva and her mother had to separate from her father and brother as they, like the Franks, went into hiding. 

They were betrayed by a Nazi spy who posed as a member of the resistance and, at age 15, Eva was captured and sent to Auschwitz with her mother.

On arrival at Auschwitz, Eva was inspected by Dr Mengele for death ‘selection’. She was aged 15, the same age as many of the high school girls listening to her story. Eva told the rapt audience that a stranger passed her mother a ladies’ coat with a hood, which she then passed to Eva. This was the only reason she was spared immediate extermination.

Giving a deeply moving and personal account, Eva reminded the girls at Streatham & Clapham High School to talk about their problems and traumas and to stand up to injustice and dehumanisation.

After the war Eva was given a Leica camera by Otto Frank, who had no need for taking pictures since all his family had perished. She came to London to become a photographer’s apprentice, still stateless. In London she met another refugee and became close but was reluctant to accept his marriage proposal because of her widowed mother back in Amsterdam… until she discovered her mother and Otto Frank had fallen in love and were getting married too.

Eva now lives in London but travels the world telling her story.  She has authored several books and works tirelessly for the Anne Frank Trust which exists to equip young people with the skills and confidence to fight discrimination and prejudice wherever they encounter it.

Eva spoke for nearly two hours and took questions from the Streatham & Clapham pupils (aged 11 to 18).  Answering the girls’ questions, she expressed her concern about the rise of right-wing politics throughout Europe and the failure of the world to give sanctuary to refugees.  She spoke of her struggle to forgive but her ability to find joy once again and the optimism she feels thanks to young people showing courage and protesting wrong-doing.  She spoke of how building walls to keep people out is not the solution.

Eva met privately with the school’s Head Girl, Halimah Salami and Hannah Webb, one of Streatham & Clapham’s Holocaust Education Trust pupil ambassadors as well as Deputy Head Girl, Emma Wilkes and Streatham & Clapham Prep School representative, Annabelle Solari-Masson. They discussed the work the pupils do to support human rights and promote tolerance.

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