Eva Clarke was one of only three babies born in Mauthausen concentration camp who survived the Holocaust. She was born on 29 April 1945, just a day after the Nazis had destroyed the camp's gas chambers and less than a week before its liberation. Her birth certificate will be going on display for the very first time in IWM London’s brand new Holocaust Galleries.
Eva and her mother
Several months earlier her mother, Anka Kaudrová, had voluntarily followed her husband, Bernd, to Auschwitz–Birkenau after he was transported there from Theresienstadt ghetto in Czechoslovakia, where they had both been imprisoned. She was pregnant with Eva on her arrival. However, she was never reunited with Bernd and later discovered that he had been murdered on the 18 January 1945. He never knew his wife was even pregnant.
Anka was moved from Auschwitz–Birkenau to a slave labour camp near Dresden, Germany, where she remained for six months. She was later forced to endure a horrific seventeen-day journey to Mauthausen, in open coal wagons, without food, little water and in filthy conditions. On arrival at Mauthausen, Anka was so shocked when she saw the name of the notorious concentration camp that she went into labour. Anka weighed just five stone when she gave birth and Eva weighed just 3lb.
Eva's Birth Certificate
Eva and her mother were almost the only survivors of their entire family. Most were murdered in Auschwitz-Birkenau. Her birth certificate was issued on 14 April 1948 by the Standesamt registry office of Mauthausen an der Donau, a small town in Austria where the concentration camp was located. The birth certificate confirmed that Eva was born in Mauthausen, Früheres Konzentrationslager - Former concentration camp.
The birth certificate was needed so Eva and her family could emigrate from Prague to the UK. In 1948 Eva emigrated to the UK and settled in Cardiff. She married in 1968 and has two sons and has been living in Cambridge ever since.
My name is Eva Clark. I was born in the Mauthausen concentration camp in Austria on the 29th of April 1945.
My mother had been in camps for three and a half years. She was then on a horrendous train journey in open coal wagons for 17 days, and the shock of seeing the name Mauthausen at the station made her go into labour.
I was born literally or almost of the gates of the concentration camp, and about about a week after I was born on the 5th of May the American 11th Armored Division liberated the camp. My mother reckons she wouldn't have lasted much longer.
At the time of, before my birth she apparently weighed about five stone, 35 kilograms, and she was nine months pregnant.
Personal stories such as Eva’s are at the heart of IWM’s new Holocaust Galleries, alongside a breadth of objects, documents, photographs and other original material that will help audiences consider the cause, course and consequences of this complex and formative period of human history.
The new galleries explore the themes of persecution, looking at the global situation at the end of the First World War; escalation, identifying how violence towards Jewish people and communities developed through the 1930s; and annihilation, examining how Nazi policy crosses the threshold into wide-scale state-sponsored murder in the heart of twentieth century Europe. The new galleries also explore the challenges faced by survivors after the Second World War.