Holocaust Memorial Day: ‘If you don’t remember they died for nothing’

Founding member of the Anne Frank Trust, Eva Schloss, insists the stories of survivors must continue to be told.

“If you don’t remember the people who were lost in the Holocaust, they will have died for nothing.”

Founding member of the Anne Frank Trust, Eva Schloss insists we must continue to tell the stories of people whose lives were taken by the Nazis to ensure they did not die in vain.

The St John’s Wood resident, who is Anne Frank’s step-sister, lost her brother and father in the Nazi concentration camp Auschwitz.

“My brother was very much afraid of dying but my father told him not to worry because everything he had done would not be for nothing,” said Mrs Schloss, who is 82-years-old. “He told him that people would remember him.

“It is important to remember and tell individual people’s stories.”

Mrs Schloss was just 15 when her family was betrayed, sent to Auschwitz, and split into male and female camps.

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“We had to say goodbye to my father and brother,” she recalls. “We thought it was the end of our lives.”

Soon after arriving she thought her mother had been taken to be killed when the two of them were separated for three months.

“I saw my father by chance through a fence and the terrible thing was I told him that my mother had been gassed because that was what I thought at the time,” she said.

“He was a very strong person but he died on one of the Nazi marches to Austria and I think he gave up because he didn’t think I could survive on my own with my mother dead. That was very difficult to accept.”

When the camp was liberated by the Russians, Mrs Schloss and her mother moved to one of the other camps within the complex where they met Anne Frank’s father Otto who later married Mrs Schloss’s mother.

Having lived in London since 1951, Mrs Schloss is now heavily involved in educating people about the Holocaust – for which she received an MBE in the Queen’s New Year’s honours list this year.

As well as helping to establish the Anne Frank Trust in 1990 to challenge prejudice and encourage respect, Mrs Schloss has written two books about her experiences.

“It is incomprehensible to imagine that such cruelty could happen in the 20th century,” she said.

“We must not carry hate into new generations of people, but prejudice is still with us. We have to learn a lesson from the Holocaust.

“We have to have the courage to be able to speak up against hatred and do what the Germans weren’t able to do.”

*The London Jewish Cultural Centre is among several organisations who work with survivors and schools to educate young people about The Holocaust.