Close-up portrait of Heinz Geiringer wearing his boy scout uniform.
Photograph | Photograph Number: 55006
1937 - 1938
- Vienna, Austria
- Variant Locale
- Photo Credit
- United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, courtesy of Eva Schloss
Close-up portrait of Heinz Geiringer wearing his boy scout uniform.
- Eva Schloss (born Eva Geiringer) is the daughter of Erich Geiringer (b. Nov. 11, 1901) and Elfriede (Fritzi) nee Markovits Geiringer, assimilated middle-class Viennese Jews. Erich Geiringer manufactured and exported shoes. He also was an active sportsman. Eva was born in Vienna, Austria on May 11, 1929; her older brother Heinz Felix Geiringer was born on July 12, 1926. Shortly after the German annexation of Austria in 1938, the Geiringers decided to flee. Erich left first with Heinz, and Eva and her mother followed a few weeks later in June 1938. They first came to Belgium and after the start of WWII settled in Amsterdam, Holland. They lived near many other émigrés and there Eva met Anne Frank for the first time. In May 1940 Germany invaded Holland and began imposing antisemitic restrictions. All Jewish children had to attend Jewish school. Heinz attended school with Margot Frank. Erich could no longer continue his business and instead began a cottage industry making handbags from snake skins. As their lives became more endangered, Eva's father began to explore how to go into hiding. The underground supplied them with false papers; Eva's alias was Jopie Ackerman. After Heinz received a deportation order to go to a forced labor camp on July 6, 1942, the family decided to hide. Erich felt they would be safer if they divided in two groups, men and women. Mother and Eva went to the home Mrs. Klompe who had prepared a hiding place in her attic with two small rooms. For extra security, several men from the resistance made a tile wall behind the toilet in case of an emergency. Two hours after they completed this construction, German police raided the apartment but not find Eva and her mother.
Since Eva and Fritzi both had blond hair and did not look recognizably Jewish, they could leave the apartment on occasion to visit Erich and Heinz. The men could not leave their hiding space and occupied themselves by painting, studying foreign languages and writing poetry. They had a harder time because their rescuer's neighbors were Dutch Nazis. With time their rescuers grew tired of hiding them, fed them less and demanded more money. The situation also became more dangerous at the Klompes so both the men and the women moved to new hiding places. Eva and her mother now lived with the Reitsma family.
On Eva's 15th birthday May 11, 1944, the Reitsmas prepared a special birthday breakfast for her. Just as they were finishing the celebration, the Gestapo burst into the home. Fritzi and Eva were taken to a Gestapo detention center in a former secondary school. Apparently the men's rescuers had denounced them all. Erich, Heinz and the Reitsmas also were arrested. Eva heard the screams of her father and brother being tortured. She also was hit with a truncheon. After Eva's father offered to give the Gestapo all of his wife's jewelry in exchange for freeing Reitsmas, and they were released. From the prison, the family was sent to Westerbork. Conditions there were somewhat better and the family could move around freely. However after only a few days, they were deported to Auschwitz.
Some after arriving, Eva became violently ill and developed a high fever. Her mother took her to the hospital block. To their surprise they recognized the nurse, Minni, Fritzi's cousin who was married to a famous physician from Prague. She gave Eva the proper medications and told them to return to the barracks where they would be safer. Eva made a full recovery by the following morning. She and Fritzi were later assigned to work in Canada, one of the most desirable work sites since they managed to scrounge additional food and clothing. They worked there as long as the Hungarian deportations continued at a fevered pace, but once the deportations ended, they were transferred to a different commando where they had to do hard physical labor carrying heavy stones. In September they underwent a new selection. Eva was selected for labor but to her horror, her mother was send with those to be gassed. Determined to do what she could to save her mother, Eva snuck into the hospital barracks to ask Minni for help. Eva was then given a new work assignment to braid cords. She heard nothing of her mother's fate and assumed she had been murdered but she did see her father twice and he gave her extra food. After two months she met a group Dutch Jews who told her that her mother was alive and hiding in the hospital block. It turns out that Minni had successfully intervened on her behalf. In December Eva arranged to be transferred to the hospital to reunite with her mother and Minni. Thanks to Minni's intervention, Dr. Mengele having first selected Fritzi to be gassed, agreed to save her life. The following month, the Germans began to evacuate the camp. After the SS had left the camp, Eva raided the storerooms and found food, clothing and warm blankets. A few days later, Soviet soldiers arrived, and they were officially liberated. The women left Birkenau and walked to the main camp of Auschwitz where they reunited with male survivors. Though they found other friends from Holland, they learned that Erich and Heinz had left on the forced evacuation march.
The Russian soldiers then transported the survivors first Katowice and then to Cernauti and finally to Odessa. They then began their return to Western Europe. On returning to Amsterdam, Eva introduced her mother to Otto Frank, the father of Anne and Margot. That August Eva and Fritzi received a letter from the Red Cross telling them that Heinz had died of exhaustion in April 1945, and Erich died three days before end of war. Otto Frank received a similar letter confirming the deaths of his wife and daughters. United in their shared experiences and grief, on November 10th, 1953 Otto and Fritzi married and moved to Basel, Switzerland. Eva completed her education studying art history at Amsterdam University for a year. In 1951, she moved to London to train as a professional photographer. In 1952, Eva married Zvi Schloss, an Israeli economics student. They went on to have three daughters and several grandchildren.
[Source: Schloss, Eva, "Eva's Story: A Survivors Tale by the Step-Sister of Anne Frank", New York: St. Martin's Press, 1988.]
- Photo Source
United States Holocaust Memorial Museum
Copyright: United States Holocaust Memorial MuseumProvenance: Eva Schloss
Record last modified: 2011-11-16 00:00:00
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