The First Time Eva Tells Her Story
Oral History Item Type Metadata
In 1985 -- in Amsterdam, there's a museum, the Anne Frank House, which is where the Frank family were in hiding in Otto's office and the storeroom, and it is open to the public to see how the family lived, and they do research about this period. But they realize that not everybody, though they have an enormous amount of visitors from all over the world, but they realize that not everybody came come to Amsterdam and see all this. So they decided to make a traveling exhibition about the life of Anne Frank, about the rise of the Nazis and the concentration camps and this period.
And this exhibition came to London for the first time, and there was no Holocaust education at that time and still about the Holocaust there was very little written or talked about. And so this exhibition was quite a breakthrough, and it was a very, very important event. Many people were invited: the television and the press. And my mother, who was at that time in England -- because she lived still in Switzerland -- came to this event. And we just came as guests, like many, many other people.
And then when we were there, the organizer asked me, "Would you want to sit at the head table with us?" And I said all right, I didn't mind, that was okay. So there was about ten people sitting on the head table and everybody spoke very movingly, and then towards the end he said to me, "And now Eva will want to say a few words to you." And I was in complete shock. First of all, as I said, I had never talked about the Holocaust or about my feelings; and then I had never ever spoken in public about anything anyway.
So I got up and for a few minutes, perhaps, I didn't really know at all what to say. But then, suddenly, all this what I had suppressed for forty years came flooding out, and I think I spoke for about an hour and a half. And everybody was fascinated, very interested and very moved, and at the end -- you know, I mean, it was emotionally so hard for me that I started crying, and everybody at the table started crying and the audience and everybody cried. And then, you know, it was a real -- a breakthrough. And afterwards my daughters were there, were flabbergasted what I had told, and they brought a lot of their friends and they all came to me and asked me more questions, and that was a revelation that people were interested in it. This was really a wonderful experience.
And then this exhibition traveled all over England, and I was always asked to come at the openings; and it was aimed of course mainly at school children, to educate the children and teachers. And then I was asked by teachers to speak to the schools. And this is what really opened up for me a different part of life, and this is what I was doing for many years. And then in 1988, somebody suggested, "You should really write down your story," and I did that and I published a book called Eva's Story, which came out in several countries.