Berek was born in Berlin in 1921, where she lived with her parents, Ernst and Hedwig (Hedi) Schott. Ernst had owned a small shoe factory and later earned a decent living as a buyer for a shoe company. He had been a World War I vet and was wounded fighting for Germany.
But starting in 1938 neither Ernst nor Hedi were allowed to work under the Nazis’ increasingly repressive regulations. Eva was kicked out of high school at age 14 because the Nazis did not allow Jewish children to attend public school. By 1940, the Nazis had already deported many Jews to concentration camps. Berek thinks that her family might have been spared because they lived in a Catholic neighborhood and because her father was a war veteran.
Her parents were forced to sell their possessions to survive. After the 1939 German attack on Poland that began World War II, Germany faced many food shortages. Jews were confined by a curfew to stay in their houses until 4 p.m., after which it was almost impossible to find food in the shops.
To read more of Eva Schott Berek's story, visit aiisf.org.