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Eve Adams”

“Eve Zloczower,” as Eve Adams spelled her original Polish surname on a passport photo from 1941. Ben Reitman Papers, University of Illinois at Chicago Archives

In the spring of 1891, Chawa Zloczewer (June 15, 1891 – winter 1943/1944) was born into a Jewish family in Poland. She immigrated to the United States when she was 20 years old. On June 4, 1912, after a nine-day voyage, she disembarked in New York City. The English version of her Polish name was Ewa, but upon arrival in the US, she began using the name Eve because it sounded more American. Several years later, she began using the last name Adams.

By 1919, Eve began traveling around the United States selling anarchist, socialist, communist, and radical labor publications. Years later, Eve stated, “What a price I paid for my courage and perhaps foolishness!” Her politics drew the attention of the authorities, and eventually Eve was put on the “Radical Activities Index” of the US Bureau of Investigation, led by J. Edgar Hoover.

Eve lived in Chicago from 1921 to 1923. While there, she co-managed a tearoom called The Grey Cottage with her partner, Ruth Norlander. The tearoom was known to be a safe haven for political leftists, authors, artists, and folks whose sexuality and gender existed beyond mainstream society’s norms.

In November 1923, Eve moved back to New York City, where she submitted a Declaration of Intention to become a United States citizen. In 1925, she opened a tearoom called Eve’s Hangout. She also wrote a book titled Lesbian Love, which told stories that she had heard or experienced during her travels. She changed the names of everyone in the book to protect them from social repercussions, and she only ever distributed a limited number of copies.

But, in 1926, Eve was arrested for publishing the book and charged with distributing obscenity and for allegedly attempting to have sex with the undercover policewoman who was sent to entrap her. She served 18 months in prison. After her release, the US government deported Eve back to Poland in December 1927. The Daily News newspaper reported that “The morals of this 35-year-old woman…were not what this country demands of a would-be citizen.”

In 1930, Eve moved to Paris, and she met a Jewish woman from Switzerland named Hella Olstein in 1933. Officially, Eve was employed as Hella’s governess, hired to take care of her house. But it was well known that Hella and Eve were a couple.

Eve Adams (right) and Hella Olstein (left); place and date unknown. Daniel Olstein Collection

After the outbreak of World War II, Eve tried find a way out of Europe. She wanted to return to the US or to join her brother in Palestine, but the costs and paperwork required proved to be insurmountable. Switzerland denied Hella’s request to escape Nazi-occupied France. In 1940, Eve and Hella moved from Paris to southern France hoping to escape the Nazis.

On December 7, 1943, authorities arrested Eve and Hella as “foreign Jews.” Ten days later, the Nazis deported them to Auschwitz in a cattle car, along with approximately 850 other Jews. Upon arrival, 345 people were selected for forced labor. 505 were immediately gassed.

At liberation in 1945, there were only 31 survivors of that transport still alive. Eve and Hella were not among them.

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For citation: Jake Newsome, “LGBTQ+ Stories from the Holocaust: Eve Adams” (2022) wjakenewsome.com/stories/adams. 

For more LGBTQ+ Stories from the Holocaust, visit wjakenewsome.com/stories.

LGBTQ+ Stories from the Holocaust: Eve Adams © 2022 by Jake Newsome is licensed under CC BY 4.0