GLOUCESTER – On March 12, Temple Ahavat Achim in Gloucester will present the new film “Eva’s Promise,” accompanied by coproducer Susan Kerner and Tufts Professor Barbara Wallace Grossman, who teaches Imagining the Holocaust on Stage and Screen. The story the film tells is extraordinary. The story of how the film came to be made is remarkable as well.
When 15-year-old Eva Schloss (then Eva Geiringer) was on a train to Auschwitz, she promised her brother Heinz that if he didn’t survive, she would retrieve and display his paintings and poems. Heinz and their father died; Eva and their mother survived. In 1953, her mother married Anne Frank’s father, Otto. Their families had been friends in Amsterdam before and during the war.
Eventually, Eva moved to London, where she married, raised a family, had an antique store, and made a life. For decades, she was haunted by nightmares. But things began to change in the 1980s. Eva started telling her own story. She became an international advocate for Holocaust education. In 2006, she gave Heinz’s paintings and poems to the new Dutch Resistance Museum in Amsterdam. Her nightmares receded. She was featured in the recent Ken Burns documentary, “The U.S. and the Holocaust.”
In 1996, Kerner was a resident director at George Street Playhouse in New Brunswick, N.J. She produced the play “And Then They Came for Me: Remembering the World of Anne Frank.” It was through the play that she met Eva.
The two maintained a friendship and a year ago, Eva – in her 90s – decided she wanted a wider audience for Heinz’s story. Kerner, who taught theater at Montclair (N.J.) State University for 24 years, called on her colleague, Steve McCarthy, an Emmy Award-winning filmmaker. He became the director and coproducer of “Eva’s Promise.”
Eva had two requests for the pair: “Get it done. And hurry.”
Despite the pandemic, the team filmed 12 hours of interviews with Eva in London. They also conducted interviews at the Amsterdam museum. They have worked with what they call a “micro budget” and with extraordinary speed.
The hour-long film is just having its first screenings. It will be shown at Congregation Kehillath Israel in Brookline on March 2, at Temple Beth Elohim in Wellesley on April 11, and on March 12 at Temple Ahavat Achim in Gloucester at 7 p.m., with wine and cheese at 6:30.
For more information on this free event, visit taagloucester.org or call 978-281-0739.