The Head teacher welcomed Holocaust survivor Eva Clarke to the School — a visit that resulted in major articles in the North Norfolk News and the Eastern Daily Press. Eva spoke for over an hour to students and her talk was followed by a question and answer session to enable students to better understand the nature of the Holocaust and to explore its lessons in more depth.
Our Headteacher said “It was a privilege for us to welcome Eva Clarke to our school and her testimony will remain a powerful reminder of the horrors so many experienced.
Eva’s story is one of tremendous courage during horrific circumstances and, by hearing her testimony, students had the opportunity to learn where prejudice and racism can ultimately lead”.
Eva was born in the Mauthausen concentration camp in Austria, on 29th April 1945. Eva and her mother were the only survivors from their immediate family, fifteen members of whom were murdered in Auschwitz - the Nazi concentration and extermination camp in Poland.
In December 1941 Eva’s parents were sent to Terezin, a ghetto just outside Prague. Eva’s parents were young, strong and well able to work. This ensured that they stayed there for three years, an unusually long length of time. Despite the sexes being separated, Anna – Eva’s mother - fell pregnant. The couple were forced to sign a document stating that when the baby was born it would have to be handed over to the Gestapo to be killed. When he was born, Anna’s son, Dan, was not taken by the Gestapo but died of pneumonia when he was two months old. His death, however, meant the preservation of Anna’s and eventually Eva’s lives.
In 1944, Eva’s father was deported from Terezin and Anna, unaware of the final destination, chose to follow him the next day, despite being pregnant for the second time – this time with Eva. Anna arrived at Auschwitz-Birkenau on 1st October 1944. Had she arrived with a baby, she would have been sent immediately to the gas chamber but because her pregnancy was not yet visible she was selected to work as a slave labourer in an armaments factory in Freiberg near Dresden. She remained there for six months, getting weaker by the day whilst becoming more visibly pregnant, which was very dangerous.
Tragically Anna never saw her husband again and he never knew she was pregnant. She discovered after the war that he had been shot on 18th January 1945, just over a week before the liberation of Auschwitz-Birkenau by the Russian army. As the Nazis retreated, Eva’s mother and her fellow prisoners were forced onto a train evacuating them from Freiberg. A three week nightmare journey around the Czech countryside followed; the prisoners weren’t given any food and scarcely any water.
The train arrived at Mauthausen concentration camp on 29th April 1945. Anna had such a shock when she saw the name of this notorious camp that she went into labour and, without any type of medical assistance, Eva was born on an open cart. The gas chamber at Mauthausen was blown up on 28th April 1945, the day before they arrived and the American army liberated the camp three days after Eva’s birth. The timing of their arrival ensured the ultimate survival of both mother and daughter.
After the war, in February 1948, Eva and her mother returned to Prague and in the same year they emigrated to the UK. In 1968 Eva married a lawyer and has two sons.