Eva Heyman

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Eva Heyman
Born13 February 1931 (1931-02-13)
Died17 October 1944 (1944-10-18) (aged 13)
OccupationWriter, author

Eva Heyman (Hungarian: Éva Heyman, 13 February 1931 – 17 October 1944) was a Jewish girl from Oradea. She began keeping a diary in 1944 during the German occupation of Hungary. Published under the name The Diary of Eva Heyman, her diary has been compared to The Diary of Anne Frank. She discusses the extreme deterioration of the circumstances the Jewish community faced in the city, offering a detailed account of the increasingly restrictive anti-Jewish laws, the psychological anguish and despair, the loss of their rights and liberties and the confiscation of property they endured. Heyman was 13 years old when she and her grandparents perished in the Holocaust.

In May 2019, the Eva Stories project was launched, visually depicting extracts from her diary on Instagram. On International Holocaust Day 2020 (27 January), Eva Stories was also launched on Snapchat.


Heyman started writing her diary on her thirteenth birthday 13 February 1944 (the same year Germany occupied Hungary).[1] The town she was born has been called Nagyvárad by Hungarians and Oradea by Romanians. When she was born it was part of Romania; in her diary, Heyman calls it "Varad", short for Nagyvárad, a colloquial name widely used. The city was part of Hungary that time.[1]

She was raised in an assimilated Hungarian-Jewish family. Her father, Béla Heyman, was an architect from a prominent family. The family owned a hotel which Heyman wrote was "full of Persian rugs". Her parents divorced when she was a young child. Her mother married socialist writer Béla Zsolt. Her grandfather was a pharmacist, who had supported the Kingdom of Hungary against Romania. Heyman recalls watching the arrival of Miklós Horthy from the window of her grandfather's pharmacy.[1]

Her mother Ágnes "Ági" Zsolt was also a pharmacist. Her daughter described her as "more beautiful than Greta Garbo". Ági and Zsolt were living in Paris when the Germans invaded Poland. Terrified for her daughter, she convinced her husband to return to Budapest. She was held at the Bergen-Belsen concentration camp, but made it to safety in Switzerland after she was rescued from the camp. She committed suicide after her daughter's diary was published. The location of the original manuscript is not known.[2]

Being raised in a political family, Heyman and her grandparents would have been expecting rough treatment as the Nazis approached Nagyvárad in 1944. Heyman was morbidly preoccupied with her own death at the hands of the Nazis, which she grew to believe was inevitable after her best friend was killed by Nazis. Her diary begins as air raids sirens herald the approach of the Nazis in Nagyvárad. Together with her grandparents, Heyman lost her life in Auschwitz in October 1944.[2]

Diary and publication[edit]

Heyman's diary was published first in Hungarian. It was first translated into Hebrew by Yad Vashem in 1964, then into English by Moshe M. Kohn. The English edition was published by Yad Vashem in 1974.[2] The diary has been compared to The Diary of Anne Frank.[3]

In her diary she talks about her 13th birthday party, the last before she is murdered at Auschwitz. She writes of a pleasant party with tea, sandwiches, and a type of chocolate cake called Sacher torte. She is given a navy blue knit dress, a light tan spring coat and for the first time two pairs of sheer stockings. She also received an assortment of books, candies, records, oranges and chocolates.[1]

She writes of her mother burning books written by Béla Zsolt, who she calls "Uncle Bela", and the destruction of works by other authors who were deemed dangerous like Ferenc Molnár. She admits to having read Molnár's novel The Paul Street Boys.[2]

Commemoration and representation in culture[edit]

  • In 2012, a research center for Jewish history was opened at the University of Oradea (Nagyvárad) that was named after Eva Heyman.
  • In 2015, in the city of Oradea (Nagyvarad) there was placed a statue of Eva Heyman in memory of the children of the city who were murdered in the Holocaust. It is situated in Bălcescu Park, from where over 20,000 Jews were deported by trains to Auschwitz between 24 May and 3 June 1944. This statue was the result of 3 years of hard pro bono work by the not for profit organisation [1] and the generosity of donors from around the world. The sculptor was Flor Kent. In 2018 the statue was gifted by Asociatia Tikvah to the City of Oradea.[4][5]
  • In 2017, a theater show entitled "Eva Heyman: Anne Frank of Transylvania" was staged in Romania based on Eva's story.[6]

Eva Stories[edit]

In May 2019, a series of short videos that illustrate her story was uploaded to Instagram in the style that characterizes the media, under the title Eva Stories. The videos went viral and attracted worldwide interest.[7] During the 2020 World Holocaust Forum in Jerusalem, world leaders planned to post Eva-related online messages in order to popularize the project and help combat anti-Semitism.[8] On International Holocaust Day, 27 January 2020, Eva Stories was also launched on Snapchat.

External links[edit]

Media related to Éva Heyman at Wikimedia Commons


  1. ^ a b c d Boas, Jacob (1995). We Are Witnesses: Five Diaries of Teenagers Who Died in the Holocaust. Macmillan. p. 11. Retrieved 31 July 2019.
  2. ^ a b c d Holliday, Laurel (1995). Children in the Holocaust and World War II. Simon & Schuster. p. 99. Retrieved 31 July 2019.
  3. ^ Kopf, Hedda Rosner (1997). Understanding Anne Frank's The Diary of a Young Girl: A Student Casebook to Issues, Sources, and Historical Documents. Greenwood Publishing Company. p. 114. Retrieved 31 July 2019.
  4. ^ "O statuie a Evei Heyman va fi amplasată în Parcul Bălcescu în memoria copiilor evrei deportaţi din Oradea" (in Romanian). Ebihoreanul.
  5. ^ "ALEXANDRA VLAS & ANDRADA NIŢU: Statuia Evei Heyman în Parcul Bălcescu" (in Romanian). LogoPaper. 22 October 2015.
  6. ^ "Comemorarea Holocaustului în Oradea" (in Romanian). Digi24.ro.
  7. ^ "Eva's Instagram Holocaust story goes viral worldwide". Globes. 2 May 2019.
  8. ^ "World leaders to make online 'Never Again' pledge". israelhayom.com. 22 January 2019.