MOLINE, ILLINOIS (November 11, 2022) — In September 2022, The Black Box Theatre performed My Brother’s Gift, as a part of the Out of Darkness: Holocaust Messages for Today initiative. The play is based on the remarkable, true story of Heinz Geiringer, neighbor and friend of Anne Frank. The production will air on WQPT on November 17, 8PM, and will be followed by a short documentary on the Anne Frank Exhibit in Danville, Iowa.
Heinz, a trained musician at only fifteen, was forced to live in hiding and silence in Nazi-occupied Amsterdam. He turned to painting and poetry to express his everyday terror, but also his hope for the future. Anne Frank’s family and Heinz Geiringer’s family were neighbors in Amsterdam. After both Heinz and Margot Frank were “called up” to work in a Nazi Labor camp, they went into hiding at roughly the same time. Anne Frank left a diary showing the difficulties of growing up in hiding. Heinz Geiringer left over twenty paintings and a book of poetry, which show both his hope for the future and the terror of the time. Heinz and his father hid in one place, and his mother and sister in another. Ultimately, all were captured and brought to Auschwitz — but not before Heinz hid his art under the floor-boards of his last hiding place. On the train to Auschwitz, he told his sister, Eva, where to find the art after the war. His father died after a forced march to Mauthausen in Austria. Heinz was in a forced labor camp from January to April 1945, and he died only a few days before the camp was liberated in May 1945. After the war, his sister and mother found the art, and today it is on display in Danville, Iowa, as a part of the Anne Frank exhibit there. Recently, it could be seen at the Putnam Museum’s Anne Frank Exhibit.
The play, directed by Lora Adams, features Charles Thomas Budan as Heinz and Wrigley Mancha as Eva, and was taped during their last performance at The Black Box in downtown Moline. The award-winning memory play was adapted by Claudia Haas and is based on the remembrances of Eva Geringer Schloss and the art of her brother. Other members of the cast include Patti Flaherty as the adult Eva, Mischa Hooker as the father, Jennifer Cook Gregory as the mother, and Ben Bergthod and Paige Jackson as childhood friends.
Today, Eva Geringer Schloss lives in London. She is 93.