NEW YORK (Jun. 13)
The small, gray-haired woman climbed the marble pulpit and addressed the audience in a soft Dutch accent.
“I was Anna Frank’s playmate. We used to meet after school in the big square in Amsterdam South. She was lively and popular and although we were the same age, she was already much more mature. While we were playing marbles, she was already smiling at boys.
“I remember being taken to meet her mother at their apartment. Five years later, beside a railway track in Russia, after our liberation from Auschwitz, I introduced my mother to Mr. Frank. In 1953, Anna became my posthumous stepsister.”
Eva Schloss told her simple tale at a commemorative concert Monday night at New York’s Cathedral of Saint John the Divine, on what would have been Anne Frank’s 60th birthday.
Frank died in the Nazi concentration camp at Bergen-Belsen in 1945, a month before British troops liberated the camp on April 15 and three months shy of her 16th birthday.
The diary she kept as her family hid from the Nazis in an Amsterdam attic, saved by non-Jewish friends and released by her father, has for 40 years pricked the conscience of the world.
The concert, sponsored by the American Friends of the Anne Frank Center and the International Center for Holocaust Studies of the Anti-Defamation League of B’nai B’rith, was one of the largest events being held this week worldwide to mark the anniversary.
Other ceremonies included a lecture at the Holocaust Resource Center in Allentown, Pa., special broadcasts on public television, and art exhibits and discussion groups at youth centers throughout Frankfurt, West Germany, the city of Anne’s birth.
ADL chose the occasion to release a special Holocaust curriculum for secondary school students, and Doubleday used the event to publish an unexpurgated critical edition of the diary.
For Schloss and others appearing at the New York commemoration, including the actress Liv Ullman, the anniversary was a time not only to remember the gifts of the young writer but to decry those evils — from war to homelessness — that still cause the deaths of children.
The Brooklyn Philharmonic Orchestra played conductor Lukas Foss’ “Elegy for Anne Frank,” composed specially for the concert. And highschool student Matthew Silver read his prizewinning essay, “What Anne Frank Means to Me.”
“Why weren’t tears shed and protests held when they could have saved the victims?” he asked, his voice echoing and extending into the far reaches of the cavernous cathedral. “We must stand up for morality and decency and never allow inhumanity to be accepted by our silence.”