As many as there are survivors, there are that many different stories, and they are all unique.
- Eva Clarke

Eva Clarke was born in April 1945 in Austria. The unique aspect of Eva’s story is that she was born in Mauthausen concentration camp. It is the story of her mother and how she came to birth Eva under some of the worst conditions in human history.

Eva’s mother, Anka and her father, Bernd married in 1940 in Prague, Czechoslovakia. Her father was a German architect, and her mother was a student at a university in Prague. The pair were married for a year during the Nazi occupation in Czechoslovakia before they were deported to Theresienstadt in December 1941.

Whilst in Theresienstadt, Anka managed to get a job distributing food in the camp, which meant she was able to steal small pieces of food to feed the 15 members of her family that were interned there. Eva’s parents were able to stay in Theresienstadt for three years and in this time conceived a baby, Eva’s brother, and named him Jiri. Unfortunately, Jiri only lived for two months before he died of pneumonia in April 1944.

In September 1944, Bernd received notice that he would be deported to Auschwitz. The day after he departed, Anka volunteered to follow him, not knowing what Auschwitz was or the fate that awaited most people who arrived there.

When Anka arrived in Auschwitz, she was carrying with her a dangerous secret. That she was pregnant again, this time with Eva. She was unable to tell her husband before he was deported and was hoping to be reunited with him once more in the camp. But Anka never saw her husband again, and later learned that he had been shot in Auschwitz just seven days before the camp was liberated in January 1944.

Upon arrival, Anka was selected for life, but was only in Auschwitz for 10 days before she was moved to a weapons factory in Freiberg, Germany to engage in forced physical labour. She was here for 6 months, and the threat of starvation had become increasingly prevalent, as had the threat that Anka’s pregnancy would be discovered.

In April 1945, as allied forces began to encroach on Germany, Anka was moved from the factory to Mauthausen concentration camp in Austria. The journey there took three weeks. Prisoners were transported in open coal trucks and were denied any food and given little water. The train only stopped occasionally, and during one of these stops a farmer saw Anka, a starving pregnant woman, and offered her a glass of milk. Anka believed that it was this glass of milk that saved her life.

When Anka arrived in Mauthausen, she went into labour. She was pulled on a cart by other prisoners and, surrounded by dying people and disease, she gave birth to Eva. Eva was just 3lbs when she was born, and her mother believed her to be dead. Luckily a doctor who was also a prisoner in the camp was allowed to cut the umbilical cord and help Eva to breath and cry.

Three days after Eva was born, the camp was liberated by American soldiers. Eva and her mother returned to Czechoslovakia and lived with Eva’s aunt, Olga. They stayed there for three years before Anka was re-married to Eva’s stepfather, Karel Bergman in 1948. Soon after, they left Czechoslovakia to live in Cardiff.

Eva has been a friend and supporter of the National Holocaust centre for many years. She continues to tell her mothers incredible story of survival and the story of her own unique and dangerous beginning in life. Her story has challenged many audiences and provides an essential role in Holocaust memorial and education.

- Eva and her mother, Anka.

You can listen to her testimony here