Diane McNeil is a Christian but as one of the founders of the Unknown Child Exhibit that honors the memory of more than 1.5 million Jewish children and gypsies who perished in the Holocaust, her heart beats for the Jewish people.
McNeil is a guest speaker this coming Tuesday night at an event sponsored by the Chabad Center for Jewish Life at the Michael D. Rose Theater at the University of Memphis, McNeil said the shared faith of Jews and Christians will be on full display.
McNeil will be taking part in the event, "Learning From The Past, Living In The Present and Looking to The Future; A Historic Evening With Anne Frank's stepsister, Mrs. Eva Schloss."
"Her story is so powerful," McNeil said. "The fact she grew up with Anne Frank and went through the Holocaust with her is something that I think everyone will want to hear. It's going to be an exciting program. This will probably be a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for everybody in the entire room."
The VIP reception begins at 6 p.m. in the Michael Rose Theater and the program is slated to be gin at 7 p.m. Advance reservation tickets are $25, with student admission priced at $10. Tickets at the door are $35 each.
McNeil said she began discovering her spiritual identity as a Christian with Jewish roots several years ago.
"It's Biblical," McNeil said. "It's in the Scriptures. God put it on my heart and He's never taken it out of my heart. I really do hope Christians will come out and hear her and that the room will be filled with Jews and Christians."
"Rabbi Levi Klein of Chabad Synagogue in Memphis told me that he really wanted this to be a joint presentation between Jews and Christians," McNeil said. "I m so honored that I have been asked to speak.
Eva Geiringer Schloss, 89, is a Holocaust survivor memoirist and stepdaughter of Otto Frank, the father of Margot and Anne Frank.
Eva was born in Austria, and shortly after the annexation of Austria by Germany in 1938, her family emigrated to Belgium and finally to the Netherlands.
While there, she lived in the same apartment block as Anne Frank, and the girls, only a month apart in age, were sometimes playmates from ages 11 to 13, at which time both went into hiding from the Nazis. In May 1944, the Jewish family was captured by the Nazis, and transported to the Auschwitz-Birkenau Nazi concentration camps. Her father and brother did not survive the ordeal, but she and her mother were freed in 1945 by Soviet troops. They returned to Amsterdam in the Netherlands, and during this time, she and her mother renewed their friendship with Otto Frank, who was at that time contending with the loss of his wife and children, and the discovery of his daughter Anne's diary. Eva continued her schooling and then studied art history at the University of Amsterdam. She then traveled to England to study photography for a year. While there, she met and married Zvi Schloss, a Jewish refugee from Germany who had been living in Israel, and the couple subsequently settled in England. In November 1953, her mother Elfriede (1905–1998) married Otto Frank.
Schloss speaks of her family's experiences during the Holocaust at educational institutions. For her dedication to this work, Northumbria University in England awarded Schloss an honorary doctorate in 2001.
Eva Schloss is a co-founder of the Anne Frank Trust UK. Playwright James Still described her experiences as a persecuted young Jewish woman in the play And Then They Came for Me – Remembering the World of Anne Frank. Schloss has three daughters and lives in London. Her husband Zvi Schloss, a refugee from Nazi Germany whose father was imprisoned in Dachau, died on in July of 2016.
In an effort to preserve the memories of Holocaust survivors for future generations, Schloss recorded virtual reality answers to numerous questions while holographic technology recorded the sessions. The hologram has now become a part of interactive displays at numerous museums, where people can ask questions and receive recorded answers from the hologram.
Robert Lee Long is Community Editor for the DeSoto Times-Tribune. He may be contacted at email@example.com or at 662-429-6397, Ext. 252.