Left, then Mayor Eva Galambos cuts the ribbon at the opening of the Anne Frank exhibit in Sandy Springs in 2010. Galambos was instrumental in bringing the exhibit to the city from Decatur.
Left, then Mayor Eva Galambos cuts the ribbon at the opening of the Anne Frank exhibit in Sandy Springs in 2010. Galambos was instrumental in bringing the exhibit to the city from Decatur.

Eva Galambos, a part of Sandy Springs’ history, was instrumental in bringing a part of world history to her community here.

The exhibit “Anne Frank in the World: 1929-1945,” had once been on display at Kennesaw State University and at the old courthouse in Decatur, but has resided in Sandy Springs since 2010 as a result of the efforts of its first mayor, Galambos.

Galambos, mayor until last year, passed away from cancer April 19. In lieu of flowers, Galambos’ family asks supporters to consider making a donation to the Anne Frank exhibit. Contributions should be made to the Georgia Commission on the Holocaust, with donations specified that it is for the exhibition and in her memory.

Officials said they hope to use the donations to upgrade the exhibit and its facility.

“We are looking to use technology to update the exhibition and to add another layer of information, perhaps specific to Georgia,” said Sally Levine, executive director of the commission.

Levine said she last saw Galambos at her home this past fall. “We just talked about the work of the commission. That was the last in-person conversation I had with her, so I knew that was important to her,” she said.

In 2009 Galambos charged neighbor Gary Alexander with the task of bringing the exhibit to the city.

“I was at home watching a ‘Law and Order’ repeat, and the phone rang and it was the mayor,” Alexander said. “She said, ‘Gary, it is Eva. I’m in the middle of a council meeting—you’ve been nominated to bring the Anne Frank exhibit from Decatur to Sandy Springs. Have a nice evening.”

Alexander had his last meeting with Galambos April 17, just two days before her passing. She was to receive the Georgia Commission on the Holocaust’s 2015 Humanitarian Award. In her absence, Sandy Springs Mayor Rusty Paul accepted the award on her behalf.

“[Paul and I] went over to her house and she had been in and out of consciousness, and we came in, she recognized Rusty, she recognized me,” Alexander said. “I held her hand and told her I loved her, and she smiled, told me to give my regards to my wife, Sam. She talked to Rusty a little bit, and we gave her the award.

“We got ready to leave, and we both hugged each other and cried,” he said, “because we knew we were both saying goodbye to a friend.”
Shortly after Galambos’ call to Alexander, he was tapped to be the chairman of the advisory board of the Holocaust commission. A committee was formed and capital was raised.

A month later, officials announced that the exhibit would be coming to Sandy Springs.

The exhibit, admission to which is free and open to the general public, includes a replica of Anne Frank’s room, daily showings of “The Short Life of Anne Frank,” and more than 600 photographs that tell her story, which culminated with the events of World War II and the Holocaust.

Galambos and her husband, Dr. John Galambos, shared a connection to the historical era.

He was a Holocaust survivor from Budapest, Hungary. In 1945, he was liberated from the Bergen-Belsen concentration camp by U.S. troops.
Galambos was born in Germany, though her family left before the Holocaust.

The exhibit’s arrival to Sandy Springs didn’t mark the end of her support of Holocaust education.

“While she was in office, I met with Eva probably every 30 days in her office to talk about the exhibit and what we needed to do to make it stable and bring people in to see it,” Alexander said.

Galambos’ efforts to support the exhibit and the Georgia Commission on the Holocaust, which sponsors the exhibit on behalf of the state, continued for years to come.

–By Jon Gargis