Holocaust survivor Eva Schloss spoke at The Bushnell theater in Hartford, Conn. Monday, just days after the worst anti-Semitic attack in U.S. history. Schloss is the step-sister of Anne Frank, the young girl who wrote a diary about hiding from the Nazis in an attic in Amsterdam during World War II.
Frank died at age 15 in the Bergen-Belsen concentration camp after being transferred there from Auschwitz. She became famous after her death when her diary was published.
Schloss herself spent a year in Auschwitz.
She told Connecticut Public Radio that while acts of hate committed against Jews in modern times don’t rival that era, she’s disturbed that anti-religious hatred is on the rise against many groups, including Muslims and Christians.
“Hatred is just unbelievable nowadays,” she said. “I think religion is something very private, very personal and people have to learn to let other people have different ways to who they pray. And this is something I think we should teach in schools, that it is nobody’s business what religion you are as long as you’re a decent person.”
A gunman opened fire in a Pittsburgh synagogue on Saturday, killing 11 people. The suspected shooter, Robert Bowers, had posted online that he believed Jews were bringing “invaders that kill our people.”
The Anti-Defamation League has reported a 57 percent increase in anti-Semitic incidents from 2016 to 2017.
Schloss spoke about efforts to continue to commemorate the Holocaust, even as survivors age and die. She said it’s vital particularly to continue to teach young people about the Holocaust.
“Denial, unfortunately, has been since the Holocaust has happened, and it’s still happening,” she said. “But yes, if there won’t be any more survivors, then there will be more denial, I’m afraid. It’s not only so important to remember what has happened, but to avoid things like this happening again.”
In her interview with Connecticut Public Radio, she again returned to the touchstone of religious freedom.
“We have to let every person pursue their own religion, without being afraid of being persecuted," she said. "I think this is really the message which is most important to teach people.”
Correction: A previous version of this story incorrectly said Anne Frank died in Auschwitz. She was transferred to the Bergen-Belsen concentration camp, where she died.