Eva Kollisch (b. 1925) was born in Vienna. She and her siblings escaped from Nazi-led Austria via the Kindertransport in 1939 and settled with their parents in New York City in 1940.

By B.A. Van Sise

Eva Kollisch and Naomi Replansky
B.A. Van Sise portrait of Eva Kollisch (left) and her wife Naomi Replansky

Eva Kollisch was born into a world in which she did not need to remain.

In the nearly eight decades since leaving the land that did not want or welcome her, she has made a remarkable life, unimaginable and illegal in the time and place where she began: becoming a poet, studying at Columbia and teaching comparative literature at Sarah Lawrence for a generation. Politics, too, took residence within her; her American arrest came for anti-Vietnam protests; she stood vigil as a Woman in Black, and took part in the Seneca Women’s Encampment. She worked, tirelessly, as a feminist lesbian peace activist.

She’s several memoirs to her name, and a handful of years ago won the Clara Lemlich Social Activist Award along with her wife, the National Book Award nominee Naomi Replansky, now 102, to whom she was introduced by Grace Paley at a Gay Woman’s Alternative event in 1986. Today, Eva is holed up in her Manhattan apartment, with Naomi as they wait out the second global pandemic of her time here on Earth. Today, they listen to records and watch streaming television, a century into their lives, about female chessmasters. Today, for Eva and Naomi, there is still, always, tomorrow.

Stories Survive is made possible by the Goldie and David Blanksteen Foundation.