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"Holocaust Education Day" Proclamation Anticipates Visit by Anne Frank's Stepsister 

Anne Frank’s stepsister and childhood friend Eva Schloss will travel from London to Knoxville later this month, and her welcoming committee dropped by the Mayor’s Office this week to receive a proclamation naming February 21 as “Holocaust Education Day” in Knoxville.

That’s the day Schloss, 86, will speak to an expected capacity audience at A Historic Evening with Anne Frank’s StepSister at the Knoxville Civic Auditorium. NewsTalk 98.7 FM host Hallerin Hilton Hill will interview Schloss about her family’s experience hiding from the Nazis in an Amsterdam attic during World War II and later surviving the Auschwitz-Birkenau concentration camp.

On February 22, Schloss will speak to approximately 2,500 high school students from across Tennessee and present two paintings made by her father Erich Geiringer and her brother Heinz Geiringer while they were in hiding. The paintings, approximately 30 in all, were hidden in the attic and discovered years after the men’s deaths in Auschwitz. The original paintings and prints of others will be displayed at the Knoxville Museum of Art from February 7 – 26.

The Mayor’s guests represented the contingent responsible for planning and promoting Schloss’ visit: Jacqui Pearl, the event’s director of marketing and PR; Rabbi Yossi Wilhelm of Chabad of Knoxville; Larry Leibowitz, board chair of the Tennessee Commission on Holocaust Education; Deborah Oleshansky of Knoxville Jewish Alliance; and Sarah Mercell of Mary Beth West Communications. 

Holocaust Education Day proclamation presentation

Rabbi Wilhelm said he’s pleased and impressed by the amount of support and enthusiasm Schloss’ visit has generated. In fact, of the handful of U.S. cities Schloss will visit, Knoxville is the only one where she’s speaking for two days. The times of Holocaust survivors and their liberators telling their first-hand stories is coming to an end, he said.

“Until recently, many of us knew a survivor personally,” he said. But as they age and die, it becomes increasingly important for the second and third generations to keep the stories alive. Educating young people is key.

The Tennessee Legislature established the Commission on Holocaust Education in 1984 to “educate Tennesseans about the history of the Holocaust, seeking to remind citizens that prejudice, hatred, and violence, as manifested in the Holocaust and other genocides, leads to the destruction of a humane society.”  In 1996, the commission established the nonprofit Tennessee Holocaust Commission.

Commission chair Leibowitz told the Mayor that Anne Frank: Diary of a Young Girl remains in the state’s education curriculum, and is a powerful teaching tool.

“It’s a timely topic: how we treat each other,” Olenshansky added. “People are tuned in to the need for having these conversations.”

Holocaust Education group chats with Mayor Rogero

It’s also a lesson for overcoming obstacles, said Rabbi Wilhelm. “Eva has led a happy life. Her story helps us answer the question, ‘How do you thrive despite loss and horror?’”

Tickets to A Historic Evening with Anne Frank’s Stepsister start at $35 and are available here

Posted by ptravis On 03 February, 2017 at 2:04 PM