Eva Schloss, 92-year old Holocaust survivor, regains Austrian citizenship

Schloss, a Holocaust educator who survived Auschwitz and became Anne Frank's stepsister, also received Austria's highest national honor.

Dan Verbin ,

Holocaust museum in Amsterdam
Holocaust museum in Amsterdam

Auschwitz survivor Eva Schloss, the 92-year old stepsister of Anne Frank, has become a citizen of Austria as well as receiving an award from the Austrian government.

When the Nazis invaded Austria on March 12, 1938, annexing the country into Germany – the Anschluss – Schloss was nine years old and witnessed her friends and neighbours in Vienna turn against her family for being Jewish.

The family lost their Austrian citizenship and became Germans. Their new passports listed them as Jews.

They were able to flee to Belgium and then to Amsterdam where Schloss became friends with Anne Frank, who lived in her apartment block.

Both families separately hid from the Nazis. In May 1944, on Schloss’s 15th birthday, her family was arrested and sent to Auschwitz-Birkenau, turned in by a double agent in the Dutch resistance.

When Auschwitz was finally liberated by Soviet troops in 1945, only Schloss and her mother had survived.

They found themselves back in Amsterdam where her mother married Otto Frank, Ann Frank’s father.

In 1951, she moved to London to study photography.

At a small ceremony at the Austrian Embassy in London on Friday, Schloss was given back her Austrian citizenship and the Medaille für Verdienste um die Republik Österreich (Medal for Services to the Republic of Austria).

Schloss also has an MBE (Order of the British Empire) which was awarded to her by the British government for her work in Holocaust education.

Schloss, who is a co-founder of the Anne Frank Trust UK, has spent the last 40 years talking about the Holocaust and her experience, especially to young people. Her message is to never repeat what happened in the past, and to work against hate.

"I have worked very, very hard to change people's attitudes,” Schloss told the BBC. "Each person you convince not to be racist is a positive."

Speaking about regaining the citizenship of the country of her birth, Schloss said, "I never thought I would be celebrated in that country.”

She added, "I feel that perhaps I have achieved something in my life, to contribute a little bit to change people's attitudes."

Her decision to accept Austrian citizenship was a difficult one. Her late husband Zvi said he would never accept citizenship of Germany, his birth country.

"When I left Austria, I was very bitter. It took me a long time to get over it," Schloss said, adding that her birth country feels to her like a foreign place where she is a tourist.

"When I went to Vienna I no longer knew anybody: all my family and friends are gone,” she said.

In 2020, Schloss was one of a group of Holocaust survivors from around the world who provided their support to a campaign targeting Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg, urging him to take action to remove Holocaust denial from the social media site.

The year before, she met privately with a group of California teens who were photographed giving the Nazi salute while standing next to a swastika made of red cups.