"Who would ever think that so much can go on in the soul of a young girl?" Anne Frank
Eva Heyman is to Oradea what Anne Frank is to Amsterdam. Two young Jewish teenage girls keeping diaries as the world changed around them due to Nazi occupation. Both girls died in extermination camps, Eva in Auschwitz and Anne in Bergen-Belsen. For Eva the events happened so much quicker and there is far less awareness in the world about her story.
Eva was born in Oradea (Nagyvarad) in 1931. Her parents divorced when she was a child, leaving Eva in the care of her maternal grandparents and her Austrian governess. Eva's father, Bela Heyman, was an architect, who lived not far, but rarely saw her. Her mother, Agi, married the well-known Hungarian writer Bela Zsolt and lived in Budapest. She did not spend much time in Oradea with her daughter.
Eva’s diary starts on 13 February 1944 and finishes on 30 May 1944. The diary was smuggled out of the ghetto in Oradea with the help of Mariska, the family’s Christian cook. In June 1944 Eva was taken by train to Auschwitz where she died in the gas chambers on 17 October 1944, aged 13.
The diary gives poignant insights as to what it felt like to be a child as the restrictions were tightened by the occupying forces and it is a powerful account of the impending disaster which was to befall the thousands of Jews of Oradea. We believed it was appropriate to have a small, but permanent memorial to Eva Heyman and the lost generation of children in Oradea and the Memorial for Eva project achieved that objective.
One of the most poignant tales from Eva’s diary occurs when her bicycle which she had saved over a long period to buy was taken off of her by the police as Jews were no longer to be allowed to have bicycles. Tikvah initiated Red bicycle projects to celebrate the life of Eva Heyman and to tell the story of those who helped to save Jews.
We mentioned earlier the parallels with Anne Frank in Amsterdam and we thought it appropriate to devote part of our website to the story of Anne Frank and the organisation that now supports her memory.