In September 2022, The Black Box in downtown Moline 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 Thursday, Nov. 17 at 8 p.m. and will be followed by a short documentary on the Anne Frank Exhibit in Danville, Iowa.
Heinz, a trained musician at only 15, was forced to live in hiding and silence in Nazi-occupied Amsterdam, according to a Thursday release from WQPT. 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 left a diary showing the difficulties of growing up in hiding, which became world famous following her death at 15 in the Bergen-Belsen concentration camp. Heinz left over 20 paintings and a book of poetry, which show both his hope for the future and the terror of the time.
Ultimately, he and his father in one hiding place and his mother and sister in another, were captured and brought to Auschwitz, but not before he 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 at 19 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 (which was a traveling exhibit on display during September and October).
The Black Box play was directed by Lora Adams (who works at WQPT and is co-founder of the theater at 1623 5th Ave.), and features Charles Thomas Budan as Heinz and Wrigley Mancha as Eva. It was recorded during their last performance at The Black Box.
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 Bergthold and Paige Jackson as childhood friends.
Today, Eva Geringer Schloss lives in London. She is 93.