92-Year-Old Survivor of Auschwitz Accepts Austrian Citizenship at London Ceremony
A Jewish woman who fled Vienna to escape Nazi persecution has accepted Austrian citizenship alongside an award from the Austrian government nearly a century after her ordeal.
At a ceremony at the Austrian Embassy in London last Friday, Eva Schloss regained her Austrian citizenship, along with the Medaille für Verdienste um die Republik Österreich (Medal for Services to the Republic of Austria).
92-year-old Schloss first arrived in London 70 years ago. Her odyssey across Europe began after Germany annexed Austria in 1938, when her family escaped the country, first to Brussels and then to Amsterdam. While in Amsterdam, Eva lived in the same apartment block as Anne Frank, the famed wartime diarist who eventually perished in the Belsen concentration camp in 1945. The two girls became friends, separated only when both their families went into hiding.
In May 1944, Eva’s family was deported to Auschwitz. Eva and her mother Elfriede barely survived their incarceration, while her father and brother were both exterminated. Repatriated to Amsterdam after the war, Eva’s mother went onto marry Otto Frank, Anne’s father, while Eva herself moved to the UK in 1951 to study photography.
Speaking after the ceremony at the Austrian Embassy, Schloss expressed surprise at being honored by the country of her birth.
“I never thought I would be celebrated in that country,” she told the BBC. “I feel that perhaps I have achieved something in my life, to contribute a little bit to change people’s attitudes.”
For several decades, Schloss has shared her experiences of Nazi persecution with school students and other audiences across the world. Her deeply personal story of Nazi antisemitism covers the day when her younger brother, Heinz, came home from school having been badly beaten by his former friends, as well as the day the mother of her best friend, a Catholic girl, slammed the door in her face after declaring, “I never want to see you here again!”