Eva Clarke – Holocaust Survivor
On Wednesday 30 January 2019, Eva Clarke, whose mother is a Holocaust survivor, came to Sullivan Upper and talked about her mother’s experience during World War II. Ms. Clarke’s presentation was particularly relevant as Holocaust Memorial Day, on the 27th of January, marks the anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz, the largest Nazi death camp. We remember the 6 million Jews who died during World War II. The speech was presented to the Year 10s, who found it very powerful and shocking hearing the events that took place. Parents were welcomed to come as well to listen to Eva’s speech. Eva Clarke comes annually to Sullivan to tell her story and to educate young minds about what the Second World War was really like for the Jews.
Eva Clarke talked about what life was like for Jews just before, during and after the Holocaust. She started off talking about when Adolf Hitler first came to power in Germany, Jews were advised to leave Germany. Her father moved to the Czech Republic, where he met his future wife. The Germans took control of Czech Republic which made life harder for Jews by putting restrictions on them. These rules were called the Nuremberg Laws and meant that Jews immediately lost most of their rights in society.
The first concentration camp that her parents went to was called Theresienstadt or “Terezin.” This camp was located at the outskirts of Prague in the Czech Republic. If you were ill, pregnant or a child below the age of 12, you were sent to a death camp like Auschwitz. Eva’s parents spent 3 years in Terezin, but her father was sent to Auschwitz and Eva’s mother remarkably volunteered to go with him. In all the time she was in Auschwitz the Nazis did not know the Eva’s mother was pregnant.
At the end of the War, Eva’s mother was sent to Mauthausen. By this time, she was nine months pregnant and she was described by Eva as being a living skeleton; she weighed roughly seventy pounds. On arrival at Mauthausen it is believed that the shock of arriving there due to its notorious reputation brought on Eva’s mother labour. She gave birth to Eva on a coal cart on the train. The baby was three pounds. However, they were not killed by the Nazis as the Nazis had ran out of gas in the Mauthausen camp and the U.S. Army liberated the camp four days after Eva’s birth which meant that her and her mother could receive medical treatment.
After Eva’s talk, she allowed the Year 10 pupils and the parents to ask questions. One of the questions that was asked was, “Would you ever forgive the Nazis for what they did?” Eva said it was a very hard question to answer, but she might with some thought, but she said that she will never forget what they did. Eva’s talk was truly inspiring and all of Year 10 found it a memorable experience.
Dylan Smyth 10S
Eva Clarke with pupils from Year 10 and Year 13 and Mr T Stevenson around the tree planted in memory of her family outside the Sullivan Upper school library.