THE FILM

The 90-minute film EVA'S MISSION tells the impressive story of the life of EVA SCHLOSS, survivor of Auschwitz-Birkenau and stepdaughter of Otto Frank, Anne Frank's father. 

In the film we intertwine the storylines of Eva's traumatic past with her present as an active speaker all over the world fighting xenophobia and intolerance. We explore the experiences that shaped her identity as a young girl, fleeing Vienna, hiding in Amsterdam, and being betrayed and deported to Westerbork and Auschwitz. 

We also show how Eva overcame all the adversities and now, at 88, tirelessly fights for tolerance and global peace and against the demons of the past resurfacing in today's society: anti-Semitism, xenophobia, Islamophobia, demagogy and the rise of populist parties and nationalism.

Did Eva survive hell as a young girl only to see the demons of hatred return in world politics at the end of her life? Our film follows one of the last living Auschwitz survivors on her mission, Eva’s Mission. 

Actress and filmmaker Martha Van Der Bly is behind Eva's Mission, a long-held dream. They first met in 2011 in London, when Martha was cast in a play about Eva's life, first as the Nazi and then as Eva, performing at London schools and on a tour to South Africa. When Martha moved back to Amsterdam, Eva’s story gained a new urgency and she embarked on a personal journey following Eva.  


 

Eva’s Mission is generously supported by grants from the Amsterdam Art Council, Cinecrowd supporters, the Democracy & Media Foundation and the Gravin Van Bylandt Foundation.     

 

EVA SCHLOSS

On 11 May 1929 Eva Geiringer was born in Vienna, as Eva Minni Geiringer. After the Anschluss on 12 March 1938, the Geiringer family (Eva, mother Fritzi, father Erich and Eva’s brother Heinz) fled to Brussels. In February 1940, the family moved to Amsterdam, to Merwedeplein 46, right across the square from the Frank family at 37. Heinz went to the Amsterdam Lyceum. On 5 July 1942, Heinz was called up to work in Germany, just like Margot Frank. The Geiringer family went into hiding a day later, the same day as the Frank family. Heinz and Erich went into hiding in Soestdijk. In May 1944, they had to leave their hiding place and they were betrayed. On 11 May 1944, Eva’s fifteenth birthday, the family was arrested by the Nazis and taken to the Weteringschans Prison, then to transit camp Westerbork, and from there to Auschwitz. The family was separated, Eva and Fritzi went to Birkenau, and Erich and Heinz to Auschwitz. On 27 January 1945, the Russians liberated Auschwitz-Birkenau. After a long journey via Odessa, the Black Sea, France and Belgium, Eva and her mother arrived in Amsterdam in June 1945. They resettled at Merwedeplein, where they met Otto Frank again. Here they found out the terrible news: Heinz and Erich were murdered in Mauthausen. 

 

Eva resumed her education and eventually graduated cum laude from the Amsterdam Lyceum. She studied one year History of Art at the University of Amsterdam and found a job at a photo studio on Prinsengracht. In 1951 Eva moved to London, where she worked as a professional photographer for five years. Here, she met Zvi Schloss and they got married at the City Hall of Amsterdam in 1952. In 1953, Eva’s mother and Otto Frank, the widowed father of Anne Frank, also got married at the City Hall of Amsterdam. Eva and Zvi have three daughters and five grandchildren. Eva opened an antique shop in Edgeware (1972-1997). She did not talk about her trauma for forty years, until she told her story for the first time to an audience at the opening of the Anne Frank Travelling Exhibit on 12 February 1986. 

 

Eva has since written three books, Eva’s Story (1988), The Promise (2005) and After Auschwitz (2013). In collaboration with American playwright James Still, Eva developed the play And Then They Came For Me (1996), frequently performed around the globe. In 2012, Eva received an MBE from Queen Elizabeth for her work in Holocaust education. Eva received Honorary Doctorate in Civil Law from the University of Northumbria, Newcastle, England and is a Trustee of the Anne Frank Educational Trust, U.K. Her husband, Zvi Schloss sadly passed away in 2016. Eva (88) lives in London and still travels around the world giving lectures to warn people about the consequences of xenophobia, antisemitism and intolerance.

 

Eva Schloss tells an epic story of survival, loss and deep pain, and ultimately a passionate desire to create a better world. Her tale is heart-wrenching and uplifting at the same time, largely as a result of her stubborn commitment to hope. Often against all odds. Eva’s is a very personal journey from silence to voice, from inner rage to a message of hope brought to audiences all across the globe. Eva’s life reflects the power of storytelling as an instrument of change. She is a woman who did not find her true voice and identity till late in life. And whose voice at 88 is still in a crescendo. Eva demonstrates that everything is possible. Always. That life always has a grain of hope hidden somewhere.

 

Eva’s idealism is even more striking considering her own experiences. This is the story of a woman who lost the innocence of childhood in Auschwitz at 15. Could there be a deeper darkness? If there are two symbols of the Holocaust, they would be the gas chambers and Anne Frank. As an Auschwitz survivor and Anne Frank’s posthumous stepsister, Eva is a testimony to the power of the human spirit. But this is not a story about the past. Eva’s Mission is about today. The post-war world is changing. The passing away of living witnesses to the Holocaust coincides with the emergence of global populism. Eva’s Mission is set at the crossroads of these two developments, closing one epoch and heralding another.

 

When I first heard Eva’s story, I never imagined it would be the start of my seven-year journey in her footsteps. It was November 2011 and I was cast in the play And Then They Came For Me, first as a girl in the Hitler Youth, and later in the leading role of Eva. We performed at schools in London, and after each show Eva came on stage for a Q&A with the children. I studied Eva as an actress would, focusing on emotions and truth of character, all the while aware that in the future, actresses portraying Auschwitz survivors might no longer be able to do so. After our South Africa tour and a move back to Amsterdam, I started to explore Eva’s past. Perhaps by studying her story, I could better understand myself, my country, the world. This was the beginning of the film Eva's Mission.

 

History is shaped by people who stood up against huge odds to fight immense battles. We hope Eva’s Mission will change audiences and encourage people to speak up against injustice and work toward peace. Changing the world is often associated with the young. That is why Eva’s Mission appeals to young audiences. Eva teaches us change can happen at any age. In Eva’s spirit, we set out to tell a story about the need to create a more beautiful and just world. I am excited at the prospect of sharing Eva’s story and message of hope on the screen at some point. I am grateful you are accompanying us along the way –

 

Martha Van Der Bly, March 2018

DIRECTOR'S STATEMENT

 

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EVA’S MISSION is registered as Documentary Format with the Benelux Office for Intellectual Property in Brussels, Belgium as an

I-Depot on 21 September 2014 under number 058613 by Martha Van Der Bly.

 

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