A story about upcoming talks by Anne Frank's friend and stepsister, Eva Schloss, incorrectly reported the phone number for the Orinda Theatre. It is 925-254-9065.
In the early years, their lives would run on a parallel course.
Anne Frank and Eva Schloss were born a month apart, each with an older sibling.
In Amsterdam, while living in apartments opposite each other, they became friends, near-daily playmates for two years, concerned not with worldly issues but the benign activities that consume young minds.
They would separately go into hiding with their families during World War II, until snatched by the Nazis for the crime of being Jewish and sent to separate concentration camps -- Auschwitz-Birkenau for Schloss, Bergen-Belsen for Frank -- where they faced starvation, dehumanization and disease.
Frank, of course, did not make it out, while Schloss survived and counted 83 candles on her last birthday cake.
However, their stories intersected again when Frank's father married Schloss' mother after the Holocaust, and Schloss became Frank's posthumous stepsister.
Frank's story has been relayed for decades after the publishing of her diary, but Schloss only found her voice after she wrote "Eva's Story" and began giving speeches like three upcoming lectures planned this month in the East Bay.
"After I had written it down, I could sort of let it go," Schloss said from her London home. "Sharing it with the world certainly helped."
Rabbi Raleigh Resnick, director of the Chabad of the Tri-Valley, came across a Yom Hashoah -- Holocaust Remembrance Day -- presentation featuring Schloss and contacted the London synagogue where she spoke with the hope of bringing her to the West Coast.
"I didn't know that she existed, that there's a part of the Anne Frank story that's still alive," he said. "To hear her speak would be historic and remarkable."
Schloss, who receives speaking invitations from all over the world, will spend two weeks in California recounting her tale, which often befuddles children and adults alike.
"It is such an unbelievable thing to believe people would take you out of your home, starve you and slowly kill you," she said. "It takes a lot of imagination to really believe that."
Schloss said she hopes her message will resonate with people and reinforce the perils of prejudice.
"The whole (Holocaust) started with little things: bullying, insulting you," she said. "You have to realize that hating people eventually can lead to a much more dangerous ending."
For Schloss, the ending that befell her father, brother Heinz and even the stepsister she would never get to meet as an adult carried its own guilt.
"I very often questioned why me? Why did I survive when my brother and Anne didn't?" she said.
It is a question Schloss laments will never have an answer.
But Schloss recalls a quote from Frank's diary, where she writes: "I want to go on living even after my death."
Schloss said Frank does live on, because even if not everyone has read her diary, people know about her.
She finds similar comfort when "A Light in the Darkness: A Story of Hope During the Holocaust," which is based on her second book, "The Promise," is performed and her brother, Heinz, is memorialized onstage.
"He has not been living in vain," she said. "People will remember him. This is for me, the only way I can sit through, week after week, to see the play."
Schloss, who has three children and five grandchildren and is a trustee of the Anne Frank Education Trust in England, will speak in Orinda, Pleasanton and Piedmont on Jan. 12, 14 and 16, respectively.
"This is a window of opportunity that's not going to present itself again," Resnick said, recalling how as a child he encountered many Holocaust survivors but now the population is dwindling. "These five, 10 years are the closing of a chapter."