Not long ago, Eva Schloss, a survivor of the Holocaust and a childhood friend of Anne Frank’s, left her home in London and flew to Los Angeles, where she spent a week inside a camera-filled dome, answering painful questions about her past. “It was exhausting—the lamps and the cameras and the big globe,” she recalled. In a soft accent, she explained, “We are really worried. We won’t be here very much longer to answer questions.”
In 1938, Schloss’s family left Vienna for Amsterdam, where she met Anne Frank, and later went into hiding. When she was fifteen, her family was taken to Auschwitz-Birkenau, and she spent nine months in the camp. Her father and her brother were killed in a death march. In 1953, her mother married Otto Frank, Anne’s father, and Schloss became a kind of “posthumous stepsister” of Anne’s, she said. In L.A., Schloss recounted these facts to a hundred and sixteen video cameras, which photographed her from all sides, and logged some fifteen hundred of her patient answers. The recordings were used to develop an artificial Eva Schloss, housed inside a screen, which schoolchildren might question years from now.
On a recent Monday, the flesh-and-blood Eva Schloss stopped by the Museum of Jewish Heritage, in Battery Park City, to meet her digital counterpart. She wore a cardigan and pearls, and arrived with Heather Maio-Smith, from Conscience Display, which helped build the doppelgänger.