THE PROMISE, Eva Schloss & Barbara Powers, Puffin, 2006, 144 pages, paperback, NZ$14.99. ISBN 0-141-32081-8
“Then everyone had to have their arm tattooed with a long number. When it was my turn, Mutti pleaded with the Kapo to make the numbers small. Surprisingly she did. It was the only act of kindness I ever encountered in the camp.”
Eva was only fifteen when her family entered Auschwitz-Birkenau. Her father, an Austrian shoe manufacturer, had moved his family to the Netherlands in a vain attempt to avoid the Nazi menace. Eva describes the German invasion and occupation. Her family’s attempts at hiding were followed by betrayal and arrest in 1944. Her father and her talented brother Heinz did not survive but some of Heinz’s paintings appear in the book.
Eva wrote an account of her life for adults twenty years ago but Barbara Powers has helped her produce an account suitable for young readers. At the heart of this memoir is Eva’s account of her happy family life and school days in Austria, a vivid contrast to the death camp experience, all told in a fresh, simple style.
First published in The Press, Christchurch, New Zealand on August 12th 2006.