As Holocaust survivors age, the arts continue to tell their story.
By D.A. WILKINSON
VINDICATOR RELIGION EDITOR
YOUNGSTOWN -- History can tell the story of the Holocaust. The arts can tell the story with impact.
So say Richard D. Heideman, international president of B'nai B'rith, and Eva Schloss, the stepsister of Anne Frank, who spoke at the premiere of the "The Secret Annexe" at the Oakland Center for the Arts.
Exhibit: In addition to the play, the Oakland is presenting an exhibit from The Anne Frank Center U.S.A. The hanging panels show photographs of Anne and her family and give the history of their lives and deaths. One of the most unusual facts is that Anne's father, Otto, the only survivor of the Jewish family, was an officer during World War I in the German military that years later sent him to a concentration camp.
Also on display are pieces by artist Iudata that are dedicated to her parents, who died in the Holocaust. The pieces consist of charred wood bearing tinted copies of photos of Jews, including Anne, who suffered in the camps.
"Never again," said Heideman, who stresses the saying, "Unto every person there is a name."
"The people who died were not nameless, they had faces, they had a name," he said.
Works such as "The Secret Annex," are a way of telling the Holocaust story to another generation. Those who survived are now passing away, and telling the story helps to preserve the memory and work to prevent another Holocaust from happening again, he said.
Greater impact: The arts, "As a medium of expression can create understanding and teach lessons and have a greater impact than if we read it in a book," Heideman said.
A reader may only retain so much, but "If we see it and hear it and can experience it, there is a deep opportunity for understanding events," he added.
Schloss, of London, England, said she often speaks at similar events, explaining how she was friends with Anne. Schloss' father and brother died in the Holocaust, as did Otto's wife. Schloss' mother, Fritzi, married Otto Frank after the war.
Schloss is author of "Eva's Story: A Survivor's Tale" on her own time in the camps.
"It took me many, many years to get over this horrendous experience," she said. But, she warned, the Holocaust, "is not something in the past."
She estimated there are only about 800 Holocaust survivors left in England. While there are many who fled or hid from Nazis, she said, "There are not many left who were in the camps."
"Eva's Story" has been turned into a play for youths, "And Then They Came for Me." The children, often as many as 1,500 per performance, are deeply interested and have many questions. Schloss said.
More interest: There is more interest in the Holocaust now than in the 1960s and 70s when people didn't want to hear about it, she said. Now the Holocaust resonates with minorities and others who have faced discrimination.
"They want a solution, they want answers," Schloss said. Anne's only offense, said her stepsister, "Was her status, her religion, her beliefs."
"Annexe" is based on "Anne Frank Remembered," by Miep Gies, who was one of many people who helped to hide the Franks.
Gies never saw herself as hero, said Schloss, who added that Gies, "had the moral courage to stand up against the Nazis."
Schloss was also hidden by non-Jews. After the war, she and her protectors became close friends.
"We are just one race. The human race," Schloss said.