Anne Frank's step-sister auctions art to make a film about her brother
- Credit: Nigel Sutton
Paintings and artefacts owned by Anne Frank's step-sister Eva Schloss go under the hammer to raise funds for a film about her beloved brother who perished in the Holocaust.
The St John's Wood resident has widely shared her remarkable story of surviving Auschwitz and becoming the posthumous step-sister of her childhood friend Anne through her mother's marriage to Otto Frank.
Through talks, books and co-founding the Kentish Town-based Anne Frank Trust UK, the 91-year-old has dedicated her life to making sure the Nazi atrocities are never forgotten. Now she hopes the proceeds from the April 29 sale at Hampstead auctioneers Dawsons will fund an animated film to ensure the legacy of her "gentle and sensitive" brother Heinz Geiringer is remembered.
After fleeing Austria following the Nazi Anschluss, Eva, her parents Erich and Fritzi, and older brother Heinz moved into the same Amsterdam apartment block as the Frank family in February 1940. Born a month apart, Anne and Eva were playmates from the ages 11 to 13. But in 1942, both families went into hiding to avoid the Nazi round up of Jews. Eva's family split up, as her father explained, to give them a greater chance of survival.
When Heinz said he was afraid of dying, Erich promised him: "Whatever you have done in your short life someone will remember because we are all linked in a big chain that goes from generation to generation and nothing will be forgotten".
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Fluent in several languages, a talented musician and self-taught artist, the teenage Heinz turned to painting while in hiding. But like the Franks the entire family were betrayed by an informant in 1944 and deported. During the gruelling train ride to Auschwitz Birkenau, Heinz told Eva where he had hidden his paintings.
She told a British Library event in January: "The last conversation I had with Heinz he said he started to paint and write poetry. He hid the paintings under the floorboards with a note 'this belongs to Heinz Geiringer'. He said 'after the war I am going to pick them up, but Eva if I don't make it, please go and get them'."
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Eva, her mother and Otto were liberated by the Russians from Auschwitz-Birkenau in spring 1945 and later returned to Amsterdam. They were devastated to discover that their families had perished, Anne and sister Margot in Bergen-Belsen, Erich and Heinz on a Nazi death march. Eva fulfilled her promise to recover the paintings.
"It was a very emotional moment to go in this house where they had been betrayed, but eventually they let us in. We knew exactly where they were, in the loft, a heap of poems and 30 paintings which I donated to the Resistance Museum in Amsterdam."
Post-war, Eva moved to London to train as a photographer and met and married Zvi Schloss in 1952. Meanwhile Fritzi stayed in Amsterdam where she married Otto in 1953.
Eva told the British Library audience she hopes the animated film My Brother Heinz by Meghan Horvath will be completed later this year. "Everybody knows about Anne but I wanted to make Heinz a known person that people remember, because that's what my father promised him."
The animated documentary will bring to life Heinz's artwork, to ensure his voice has not been silenced.
The highlight of the sale is a Dutch landscape attributed to Meindert Hobbema (1638 -1709) valued at £5,000-£7,000. Also offered is a rare Rosenthal porcelain figure of the prima ballerina Anna Pavlova.