Anne Frank-Wise beyond her years.

Annelies Marie Frank aka Anne Frank, born 12 June 1929 – murdered February or March 1945, in Bergen Belsen. She was a German-Dutch teenager of Jewish heritage, kept a diary. One of the most discussed Jewish victims of the Holocaust, she gained fame posthumously with the 1947 publication of The Diary of a Young Girl -originally Het Achterhuis in Dutch; English: The Secret Annex- in which she documented her life in hiding from 1942 to 1944, during the Nazi occupation of the Netherlands in World War II. It is one of the world’s best-known books and has been the basis for several plays and films.

But most of all she was a child, who was wise beyond her years. Below are just some of her pearls of wisdom.

“How wonderful it is that nobody need wait a single moment before starting to improve the world.”

“Whoever is happy will make others happy too.”

“I don’t want to have lived in vain like most people. I want to be useful or bring enjoyment to all people, even those I’ve never met. I want to go on living even after my death!”

“Look at how a single candle can both defy and define the darkness.”

“I firmly believe that nature brings solace in all troubles.”

“I don’t think of all the misery but of the beauty that still remains.”

“Parents can only give good advice or put them on the right paths, but the final forming of a person’s character lies in their own hands.”

“We all know that a good example is more effective than advice. So set a good example, and it won’t take long for others to follow.”

“It’s a wonder I haven’t abandoned all my ideals, they seem so absurd and impractical. Yet I cling to them because I still believe, in spite of everything, that people are truly good at heart.”

“Human greatness does not lie in wealth or power, but in character and goodness.”

sources

https://www.annefrank.org/en/anne-frank/who-was-anne-frank/

https://www.britannica.com/biography/Anne-Frank

https://allthatsinteresting.com/anne-frank-quotes#1

Jan Gies-Miep Gies’s Husband

The saying goes “Behind Every Great Man There Is A Great Woman” but of course it can also be said that behind every great woman there is a great man.

The Anne Frank foundation said about Miep Gies’s husband. “Jan was not a person to stand in the limelight, not even amid all the publicity surrounding Anne Frank. He was throughout his lifetime a man of few words, but many deeds.”

Most of us will have heard about Miep Gies. But probably not so much about her Husband Jan Gies.

He was a member of the Dutch Resistance who, with his wife, Miep, helped hide Anne Frank, her sister Margot, their parents Otto and Edith, the van Pels, and Fritz Pfeffer from Nazi persecution during the occupation of The Netherlands by aiding them as they resided in the Secret Annex. Helping Jews brought the risk of severe punishments, even death, if you were caught.

Jan met Otto Frank and his family through his fiancée, Miep Santrouschitz. From 1936 onwards, he would frequently visit them on Saturday afternoons, when the Franks invited friends and acquaintances. When Jews were no longer allowed to own or even rub businesses, Otto Frank was grateful for Jan’s help. Together with Victor Kugler, Jan founded the company Gies & Co. to take over Otto’s company Pectacon, and Jan took on the role of supervisory director. This was a way to keep Otto’s business safe from the Nazis and to avoid it to fall under the control of the Nazis.

Miep had been living in the Netherlands since December of 1920, she had always kept her Austrian nationality. However because Austria no longer existed due to its annexation by Nazi Germany in 1938, Miep tried to obtain the Dutch nationality in 1939 by writing a letter to Queen Wilhemina.

Jan and Miep married on July 16,1941. Otto Frank was a witness at their wedding and Anne accompanied him. Edith did not attend because both Margot and Grandmother Holländer were ill. The wedding celebrations took place at Otto’s business premises. On behalf of her family and the office staff, Anne presented them with a silver plate.

Jan became involved in the resistance during the war. Because of his work as a social worker , he could easily visit people and thus, for example, distribute illegal papers. His contacts also helped him to obtain distribution coupons, and securing British newspapers free from Nazi propaganda. The couple also hid a Jewish man in their own home, and Mr. Gies provided ration coupons to members of the underground resistance. All of these activities were punishable by death.

The exact nature of his work for the resistance is unclear. Jan kept quiet about it. During the war it was a matter of course that he could not talk about what he did, and after the war he did not feel compelled to discuss it in detail.

When Otto Frank arrived on Miep and Jan’s doorstep in the summer of 1945, he would continue to live with them until 1953. His wife Edith and daughters Margot and Anne had died in the camps. Miep who had found and kept Anne’s diary safe was able to give Anne’s diary to Otto , and he saw to it that they were published in 1947. Jan and Miep’s son Paul was born on 30 July 1950.

Otto Frank, Miep and Jan Gies with son Paul, January 1951, Amsterdam

They continued to live in Amsterdam until Jan passed away in 1993.Jan died on January 26,1993.

The date January 26 has a personal meaning to me and it also has a special meaning in the context of the Holocaust victims of the Netherlands. My mother passed away on January 26,1996, and the Dutch government issued a formal and official apology on January 26,2020, to the family of the Holocaust victims in the Netherlands.

Today marks the 116 the Birthday of Jan Gies, and I often wonder how many lives could have been saved if there had been more people like him and his wife.

sources

https://www.annefrank.org/en/anne-frank/main-characters/jan-gies/

https://www.miepgies.nl/en/biography/jan%20gies/

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Children murdered on September 6, 1944.

I was going to do a piece on Ursula Gerson, who was murdered in Auschwitz on September 6,1944 aged 8. But then I saw there were more Dutch Jewish children and Jewish refugees, who fled Germany and Austria with their parents, who were murdered that day.

Duifje Gans. murdered in Auschwitz, September 6, 1944. Aged 11

Mirjam Lisette Katz, murdered in Auschwitz, September 6, 1944. Aged 7.

Heijman Karel Franken, murdered in Auschwitz, September 6, 1944. Aged 10.

Jeanette Regina Schenk, murdered in Auschwitz, September 6, 1944. Aged 7.

Mary Winnik, murdered in Auschwitz, September 6, 1944. Aged 7.

Mietje Judith Moscou, murdered in Auschwitz, September 6, 1944. Aged 11.

Samuel Groenteman, murdered in Auschwitz, September 6, 1944. Aged 6.

Karel Jacobs, murdered in Auschwitz, September 6, 1944. Aged 13.

These are only a few. There were at least327 Dutch Jews whose death were registered on September 6,1944.About 30 % or so were children

I was wondering why there were so many on that specific date.Then it dawned on me. They were all on the last transport from Westerbork to Auschwitz, which left the Netherlands on September 3,1944. Anne Frank and her family were also on that transport.

I know that I will have nightmares tonight with the faces of these poor souls haunting me, but it will be worth it. There fate and names should never be forgotten.

source

Westerbork

I have written about Westerbork before, but today I want to address the paradox and the misconception of the camp.

Camp Westerbork was a Nazi transit camp in Drenthe province, northeastern Netherlands, during World War II. It was used as a staging location for sending Jews to concentration camps elsewhere, mainly Auschwitz and Sobibor.

The Dutch government established a camp at Westerbork in 1939 to intern Jewish refugees, mostly from Germany. The first refugees arrived in Westerbork in October of that year. In April 1940, there were approximately 750 Jewish refugees housed in the camp. Some of them were German Jews who had been passengers on the St. Louis ship.

In May 1940, Nazi Germany invaded and occupied the Netherlands. In the first two years after the invasion, Westerbork continued to function as a refugee camp. From May 1940 to July 1942, the camp remained under Dutch administration. Under the Dutch, conditions were fairly good.

In July 1942, the Germans took over the administration of Westerbork and transformed it into a transit camp.

The camp administration was headed by a German commandant. Westerbork had three commandants, all of whom were SS officers: Erich Deppner (July 1942–September 1942); Josef Hugo Dischner (September–October 1942); and Albert Konrad Gemmeker (October 1942–April 1945). German SS men and a rotating group of Dutch civilian and military police guarded the camp. In addition to the German and Dutch personnel, a Jewish police force ,called the Ordedienst or the OD, kept order in the camp.

Camp Westerbork also had a school, orchestra, hairdresser, and even restaurants designed by SS officials to give inmates a false sense of hope for survival and to aid in avoiding problems during transportation.

Despite this illusion people still died in the camp, often they were murdered.

Jacques Schol, a Dutchman, was an officer in the camp from July 16 1940 until January 1943. He was known for his brutality against Jewish inmates, kicking inmates to death.

SS-Obersturmbahnfuehrer Albert Konrad Gemmeker, was the last commandant of Westerbork. He became to be known as the “gentleman-commander,” because of his polite and friendly behaviour. After the war, he declared, during his trial, like many perpetrators, that he didn’t know of the massive extermination of millions of innocents. Etty Hillesum, unlike Gemmeker’s judges, was not blindsided by his behaviour and in her letters she described and criticized the commander, exposing him as one of the most important executors of the extermination system, the key player in eradicating the Jews of the Netherlands.

After the war an eyewitness gave this heartbreaking account: “Indescribable scenes followed. Penetrating screams of a dead-scared half-crazed mother, the crying of children, the dumb-struck looks of some of the men, and the lamentation of the people who stayed behind. This caused shivers to run down my spine.”

Another eyewitness said “People who were selected for transport began packing their belongings and clothed their children. They got ready for the trip, knowing very well that no reprieve was forthcoming. Those who stayed behind for at least one more week often aired their relief by crying or they would break out in dance behaving like overjoyed kids.”

Transports were a traumatic experience for Jews in Westerbork. Witness testimonies mention confusion, distress, and brutality. For example, Dutch-Jewish journalist Philip Mechanicus, who kept a diary of life in Westerbork, described a transport that took place on June 1, 1943. He wrote:

“The transports are as nauseating as ever.… Men, quiet, stone-faced; women, often in tears. The elderly: stumbling, faltering under their burden, tripping on the bad road sometimes into pools of mud…. Whoever hesitates, whoever dawdles, is being assisted; sometimes herded, sometimes shoved, sometimes beaten, sometimes punched, sometimes persuaded by a boot, quickly shoved aboard the train…. When the cars are full, the prescribed number of deportees having been loaded, the cars are sealed…. The commandant signals the departure: a wave of the hand. The whistle sounds … a heart-rending sound is heard by everyone in the camp. The grungy snake, now fully loaded, crawls away”

Albert Konrad Gemmeker lived in a luxurious villa at the entrance of the camp where he would often entertain friends. Like this Christmas party(Gemmeker is on the far right)

He may have appeared to have been an SS officer who treated prisoners humanely, it was during his reign where most of the 100,000 plus Jews were transported to Auschwitz, Sobibor and a few other camps. There was no way that he didn’t know what the fate would be for those he put on transport.

On 3 September 1944, Anne Frank and the seven others who had been living in hiding in the Secret Annex were put on a transport to Auschwitz. Along with over a thousand other Jewish prisoners. This was the last transport from Westerbork to Auschwitz.

In 1949, when the Dutch left their over 300 year occupation of Indonesia, native Indonesians were left in political unrest. Some people who had collaborated with French, Algerian, and Dutch militaries were evacuated, because they were the subject of anger by the other indigenous people who had resisted colonization and felt betrayed at the Moluccan peoples siding with their colonizers. The peoples were promised a quick return to their homeland. However, from 1951 to 1971, former indigenous Moluccan KNIL soldiers and their families were made to stay in the camp. During this time, the camp was renamed Kamp Schattenberg.

sources

http://www.holocaust-lestweforget.com/albert-konrad-gemmeker.html

https://collections.ushmm.org/search/catalog/pa24289

https://encyclopedia.ushmm.org/content/en/article/westerbork

https://www.degruyter.com/document/doi/10.1515/9789048550173-007/html

https://www.holland.com/global/tourism/destinations/provinces/drenthe/camp-westerbork.htm

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Edith Frank ,mother of Anne and Margot.

In late morning of August 4, 1944, Dutch police entered the “Secret
Annex” and arrested the Frank family, the van Pels family, and Fritz Pfeffer, as well as Johannes Kleiman and Victor Kugler, who worked at Opetka, Otto Frank was the managing director of Opetka, and had been helping to hide the residents.

On August 8.1944 After several days in police custody in Amsterdam, the eight residents of the “Secret Annex” were deported by train to Westerbork, a large transit camp in the Netherlands. There, they were placed in a
punishment barrack, because going into hiding was considered a criminal act.

I have often though how horrific that time must have been for Edith Frank. Not knowing what was going to happen next to her daughters. I can only imagine that her main concern was the wellbeing of her children.

Edith was the youngest of four children, she was born on January 16,1900 into a German Jewish family in Aachen, Germany. Her father, Abraham Holländer was a successful businessman in industrial equipment who was prominent in the Aachen Jewish community together with Edith’s mother, Rosa Stern . The ancestors of the Holländer family lived in Amsterdam at the start of the 18th century, emigrating from the Netherlands to Germany around 1800. Edith’s maiden name name, Holländer, is German for “Dutchman” Edith had two older brothers, Julius and Walter ), and an older sister, Bettina. Bettina died at the age of 16 due to appendicitis when Edith was just 14. Both Julius and Walter made it to the United States in 1938, surviving the Holocaust. The Holländer family adhered to Jewish dietary laws and was considered to be religious. Nevertheless, Edith attended the Evangelical Higher Girls’ School and passed her school-leaving exams (Abitur) in 1916. Afterwards, she worked for the family company. In her free time, she read copiously, played tennis, went swimming and had a large circle of friends.

She met Otto Frank in 1924 and they married on his 36th birthday, 12 May 1925, at Aachen’s synagogue. They had two daughters born in Frankfurt, Margot, born 16 February 1926, followed by Anne, born 12 June 1929.

In 1933 the Frank family moved to the Netherlands worried about the Nazi persecution of German Jews, Otto Frank traveled to Amsterdam.

Although she returned to the home of her ancestors, Edith found emigration to the Netherlands difficult. The family lived in confined conditions and she struggled with the new language. She remained in contact with her family and friends in Germany, but also made new friends in Amsterdam, most of them fellow German refugees. Edith was an open-minded woman who educated her daughters in a modern way. Her mother Rosa Holländer-Stern left Aachen in 1939 to join the Frank family in Amsterdam, where she died in January 1942.

Aachen is only a few kilometers away from the south eastern Dutch border.

Anne had not much little sympathy for her mother during their turbulent years in the annex, and she had few kind words to say about her, especially in the earlier entries of her diary. But then again what teenage girl has good things to say about her mother or father for that matter, teenagers always no best. Later on in her diary Anne, changes her view on her mother. As Anne gets older she gets a more objective a perspective, and has more sympathetic feelings for her mother.

On September 3,1944 Edith and those with whom she had been in hiding were transported to the Westerbork to Auschwitz, on the last train to be dispatched from Westerbork to Auschwitz.

All of the “Annex” residents survived the initial selection, but the men were separated from the women. Edith Frank never saw her husband again. This was not the last separation for Edith. On October 30,1944 another selection separated Edith from Anne and Margot. Edith was selected for the gas chambers, and her daughters were transported to Bergen-Belsen. Edith managed to escape with a friend to another section of the camp, where she remained through the winter. Edith became very ill and died of illness and starvation on January 6,1945. 3 weeks before the Red Army liberated Auschwitz and 10 days before her 45th birthday.

sources

https://www.cliffsnotes.com/literature/d/the-diary-of-anne-frank/character-analysis/mrs-frank

https://www.annefrank.org/en/anne-frank/go-in-depth/reconstruction-arrest-people-hiding/

http://www.bbc.co.uk/annefrank/biogs/edithfrank.shtml

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Tuesday August 1,1944. Anne Frank’s last diary entry.

On August 4,1944 Anne Frank, her family and all the others hiding in the annex in the office building in Amsterdam are arrested.

Anne was 15 at the time, the same age my daughter is now. However my daughter is free to meet her friends, go to the shop, compete in rowing regattas and even free to go to school or the freedom to be embarrassed by her dad’s singing and dancing while he is cooking a dinner . Anne was denied all these freedoms that last years of her life.

Anne’s best friend was probably Kitty, not a human being ,but a diary. On August 1,1944 which was a Tuesday, 3 days before she was arrested, she wrote her last words to Kitty.

“Dearest Kitty,

“A bundle of contradictions” was the end of my previous letter and is the beginning of this one. Can you please tell me exactly what “a bundle of contradictions” is? What does “contradiction” mean? Like so many words, it can be interpreted in two ways: a contradiction imposed from without and one imposed from within.

The former means not accepting other people’s opinions, always knowing best, having the last word; in short, all those unpleasant traits for which I’m known. The latter, for which I’m not known, is my own secret.

As I’ve told you many times, I’m split in two. One side contains my exuberant cheerfulness, my flippancy, my joy in life and, above all, my ability to appreciate the lighter side of things. By that I mean not finding anything wrong with flirtations, a kiss, an embrace, an off-colour joke. This side of me is usually lying in wait to ambush the other one, which is much purer, deeper and finer. No one knows Anne’s better side, and that’s why most people can’t stand me.

Oh, I can be an amusing clown for an afternoon, but after that everyone’s had enough of me to last a month. Actually, I’m what a romantic movie is to a profound thinker – a mere diversion, a comic interlude, something that is soon forgotten: not bad, but not particularly good either.

I hate having to tell you this, but why shouldn’t I admit it when I know it’s true? My lighter, more superficial side will always steal a march on the deeper side and therefore always win. You can’t imagine how often I’ve tried to push away this Anne, which is only half of what is known as Anne-to beat her down, hide her. But it doesn’t work, and I know why.

I’m afraid that people who know me as I usually am will discover I have another side, a better and finer side. I’m afraid they’ll mock me, think I’m ridiculous and sentimental and not take me seriously. I’m used to not being taken seriously, but only the “light-hearted” Anne is used to it and can put up with it; the “deeper” Anne is too weak. If I force the good Anne into the spotlight for even fifteen minutes, she shuts up like a clam the moment she’s called upon to speak, and lets Anne number one do the talking. Before I realize it, she’s disappeared.

So the nice Anne is never seen in company. She’s never made a single appearance, though she almost always takes the stage when I’m alone. I know exactly how I’d like to be, how I am… on the inside. But unfortunately I’m only like that with myself. And perhaps that’s why-no, I’m sure that’s the reason why I think of myself as happy on the inside and other people think I’m happy on the outside. I’m guided by the pure Anne within, but on the outside I’m nothing but a frolicsome little goat tugging at its tether.

As I’ve told you, what I say is not what I feel, which is why I have a reputation for being boy-crazy as well as a flirt, a smart aleck and a reader of romances. The happy-go-lucky Anne laughs, gives a flippant reply, shrugs her shoulders and pretends she doesn’t give a darn. The quiet Anne reacts in just the opposite way. If I’m being completely honest, I’ll have to admit that it does matter to me, that I’m trying very hard to change myself, but that I I’m always up against a more powerful enemy.

A voice within me is sobbing, “You see, that’s what’s become of you. You’re surrounded by negative opinions, dismayed looks and mocking faces, people, who dislike you, and all because you don’t listen to the advice of your own better half.”

Believe me, I’d like to listen, but it doesn’t work, because if I’m quiet and serious, everyone thinks I’m putting on a new act and I have to save myself with a joke, and then I’m not even talking about my own family, who assume I must be sick, stuff me with aspirins and sedatives, feel my neck and forehead to see if I have a temperature, ask about my bowel movements and berate me for being in a bad mood, until I just can’t keep it up anymore, because when everybody starts hovering over me, I get cross, then sad, and finally end up turning my heart inside g out, the bad part on the outside and the good part on the inside, and keep trying to find a way to become what I’d like to be and what I could be if… if only there were no other people in the world.

Yours, Anne M. Frank”

sources

https://didyouknowfacts.com/hot-aug-1st-anne-franks-last-diary-entry-august-1st-1944-said/

https://www.annefrank.org/en/anne-frank/diary/complete-works-anne-frank/

http://edition.cnn.com/2014/08/01/opinion/prose-anne-frank-final-diary-entry/index.html

https://www.britannica.com/topic/The-Diary-of-a-Young-Girl

The slightly ‘naughtier’ side of Anne Frank.

On June 25, 1947, the diary of Anne Frank is posthumously published when her father, Otto Frank, prints the first 1,500 copies in Dutch. Otto Frank had made the first transcription in German in 1946. In spring 1946 it had come to the attention of Dr. Jan Romein and his wife Annie Romein-Verschoor, two Dutch historians. They were so moved by it that Anne Romein made unsuccessful attempts to find a publisher, which led Romein to write an article for the newspaper Het Parool:

“This apparently inconsequential diary by a child, this ‘de profundis’ (which refers to Psalm 130) stammered out in a child’s voice, embodies all the hideousness of fascism, more so than all the evidence of Nuremberg put together.

— Jan Romein in his article “Children’s Voice” on Het Parool, 3 April 1946.

This caught the interest of Contact Publishing in Amsterdam, who approached Otto Frank to submit a Dutch draft of the manuscript for their consideration. They offered to publish, but advised Otto Frank that Anne’s candor about her emerging sexuality might offend certain conservative quarters, and suggested cuts.

Recently these cut elements of the diary were discovered. They were two pages of Anne Frank’s diary where brown paper was pasted over the writing.

The two pages, Anne, included some “dirty” jokes and more than 33 lines explaining sex, contraception and prostitution.

Below are just some of those recovered lines from Anne Frank’s diary.

The Jokes

“Do you know why the German girls of the armed forces are in the Netherlands?” she wrote. “As a mattress for the soldiers.”

“A man comes home at night and notices that another man shared the bed with his wife that evening. He searches the whole house, and finally also looks in the bedroom closet. There is a totally naked man, and when that one man asked what the other was doing there, the man in the closet answered: ‘You can believe it or not but I am waiting for the tram.'”

“A man had a very ugly wife and he did not want a relationship with her. One evening, he came home and he saw his friend lying in bed with his wife and the man said: ‘He does and I have to!!!!’ “

“A man and a woman had a relationship, and after a few months the woman’s belly was getting disturbingly big. Then, the man called a doctor who said: ‘It’s just air, Mrs., just air!!!” The man replied: ‘I am not pumping air, am I?’ “

Her thoughts about sex

About having the first period. “a sign that she is ripe to have relations with a man but one doesn’t do that of course before one is married.”

“Until I was 11 or 12, I didn’t realize there was a second set of labia on the inside , though you couldn’t see them,” she wrote at one point. “What’s even funnier is that I thought urine came out of the clitoris.”

“I sometimes imagine that someone might come to me and ask me to inform him about sexual matters. How would I go about it?” She continued to depict what she imagined were the “rhythmical movements” involved, as well as the “internal medicament” or contraception

It was clears she was well aware of adult topics like prostitution: “All men, if they are normal, go with women, women like that accost them on the street and then they go together. In Paris they have big houses for that. Papa has been there.”

I can understand why these pages weren’t included in the published version of her diary, because the publisher was probably right in the assumption that it may have offended some people. On the other hand though it shows that this teenage girl had a sense of humor and an interest in sexuality, just like any other teenage girl or boy has.

I know I referred to Anne Frank’s more naughty side, but really all this shows that she was an ordinary teenager, who had a very sad but extraordinary story to tell .

Sources

https://www.annefrank.org/en/anne-frank/

http://www.findingdulcinea.com/news/on-this-day/May-June-08/On-this-Day–Anne-Frank-s-Diary-Published-for-the-First-Time.html

https://edition.cnn.com/2018/05/15/world/anne-frank-diary-pages-revealed-trnd/index.html

https://www.theguardian.com/books/2018/may/15/anne-franks-dirty-jokes-found-diary-pages-covered-brown-paper

https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/morning-mix/wp/2018/05/16/anne-franks-hidden-diary-pages-risque-jokes-and-sex-education/

https://www.biography.com/news/anne-frank-diary-secret-pages

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Happy Birthday Anne Frank

Dear Anne, today you would have turned 92, but we all know the history why that didn’t happen.

Some of that history is written in the diary you received on your 13th birthday, June 12 1942.So many people have read that diary, your private thoughts laid bare for the world to see. But I am sure you would not have minded that because aside it being a diary, it is also a historical record. You made sure of that because you could see and hear what was happening around you, You also heeded the call of the exiled Dutch government for people to record as much as they could.

What some people don’t realize if the Nazis would not have got to power, your diary would have looked so much different, it wouldn’t even have been written in Dutch but German, Because if the Nazis had not got to power your parents would not have had to move. Your German diary would have told a different story. The story about a different kind of anxiety. The anxiety of a regular teenage girl. Her first dance, her first kiss and perhaps even of the first time having sex with a boyfriend. The anxiety of seeing each other naked for the first time, and maybe how you blushed the first time he touched your breasts and you touched his penis. Who knows, what would be in that diary? I am not saying this to be disrespectful, far from it, like any other girl you deserved that level of intimacy but you were denied it. But your German diary would have been just that, a diary, only for you to read.

People call you an author. But you weren’t you were just a girl who had the endure something no girl should have to endure.

And like any other girl you had friends.

Lucia “Lucie” van Dijk , a Christian friend from the Montessori school. Lucie’s mother was an adamant member of the NSB,the Dutch Nazi party, until the end of the war, but Lucie’s disillusioned father left the party in 1942. You were shocked when the van Dijks became party members, but your dad ,Otto, patiently explained to her that they could still be good people even if they had distasteful politics.

Rie “Ietje” Swillens was another good friend of yours all the way through Montessori school.

Nanette Blitz Konig who was born on April 6, 1929 in Amsterdam, Netherlands. just a few months older then you. A friend and a class mate . You were in the same class at the Jewish Lyceum.

Like your family ,the Blitz family was arrested and taken to the Westerbork transit camp and from there were deported to the Bergen-Belsen concentration camp. It was Nannette that reunited you with your sister Margot, in Bergen Belsen. However Nanette survived the war and the Holocaust. She now lives in Brazil.

Then there was another Nanette ; Nanette van Praag Sigaar.

You were also in the same class at the Jewish Lyceum, in Amsterdam. You even wrote about her in your diary. You said “Nannie is a funny, tiny, clever girl. I like her. She is smart.” What you didn’t know is that Nannie was murdered in Auschwitz on November 5,1942, just a few months after you received your diary as a birthday gift.

Your 13th birthday gift is now a gift to us all. Not just a gift but also a stark reminder of what humans are capable of doing to other humans.

You would have been 92 today. Nowadays you may have been famous as one of the first people being vaccinated against the Covid 19 virus. But you were killed by a much worse virus, hate.

Happy Birthday Anne, or rather Van Harte Gefeliciteerd.

sources

https://www.annefrank.org/en/anne-frank/

https://www.joodsmonument.nl/en/page/569313/uit-het-dagboek-van-anne-frank

https://www.geni.com/people/Nanette-van-Praag-Sigaar/6000000047467779849

https://www.imdb.com/name/nm5235152/bio

Otto Frank

On this day 41 years ago. Otto Frank passed away, aged 91.

On may 15 1945 he wrote the following letter while on board the Monowai steamship. This was exactly 5 years after the Dutch army had capitulated to the Germans.

“The closer we get to home the greater our impatience to hear from our loved ones. Everything that’s happened the past few years! Until our arrest I don’t know exactly what caused it, even now, at least we still had contact with each other. I don’t know what’s happened since then. Kugler and Kleiman and especially Miep and her husband and Bep Voskuil provided us with everything for two whole years, with incomparable devotion and sacrifice and despite all danger. I can’t even begin to describe it. How will I ever begin to repay everything they did. But what has happened since then? To them, to you to Robert [Otto’s brother]. Are you in touch with Julius and Walter? [Edith Frank’s brothers] All our possessions are gone. There won’t be a pin left, the Germans stole everything. Not a photo, letter or document remains. Financially we were fine in the past few years, I earned good money and saved it. Now it’s all gone. But I don’t think about any of that. We have lived through too much to worry about that kind of thing. Only the children matter, the children. I hope to get news from you immediately. Maybe you’ve already heard news about the girls”

We all know Anne and Margot’s history but we know little about their Father Otto.

During WW1 he enlisted in the German army 1915. He was part of a ‘Lichtmesstrupp’, a unit that analysed where enemy artillery fire came from.In 1917 he was promoted in the field to lieutenant and served at the Battle of CambraiIn

In 1933 due to the rise of Nazism in Germany he moved his family to the Netherlands, eventually settling in Amsterdam. In 1937 he had plans setting up a business in Great Britain, but the plans never worked out.

He tried to obtain a Visa for the USA but this was denied.

In July 1942 the Frank family and other went into hiding in the secret annex in the company building on the Prinsengracht.

On 4 August 1944, Dutch police officers headed by SS-Hauptscharführer Karl Josef Silberbauer unexpectedly raided the Secret Annex. The hiding place had been discovered. Otto and the other people in hiding were arrested.

In September,1944 Otto Frank was separated forever from his wife and daughters.

After the separation on the Auschwitz-Birkenau platform, Otto was at first as put to work outside the camp in the ‘Kommando Kiesgrube’, a gravel mine,whichl was used for construction projects. Then, he was transferred to the ‘Kommando Strassenbau’, building roads outside the camp. When the frost made working outdoors impossible, Otto ended up with less exhausting work like peeling potatoes. Otto felt greatly supported by Peter van Pels, who would sometimes be able to get some extra food through his job in the camp’s post office. He was also helped by other friends in the camp. When at one point, Otto lost hope after he had been beaten, his fellow inmates, with the help of a Dutch doctor, made sure that he was admitted to the sick barracks. When the Soviet troops came closer, the camp command cleared Auschwitz. Anyone who was able to walk, had to come along this march, which turned out to be a death march Otto stayed behind walkin the sick barracks. He was too weak to travel, weighed only 52 kg and was in no condition to join.He expected to be shot but was liberated by the Soviet troops on January 27,1945.

As soon as Otto regained his strenghth, he wanted nothing more than to return to the Netherlands. Since the war was still raging in large parts of Europe, he had to make a long detour. In Odessa (then in the Soviet Union, today in Ukraine) he got on board of the ‘Monowai’, a ship that was heading towards Marseille (France), with hundreds of other survivors.

During this journey he found out that his wife had died in Auschwitz.

His hope that Anne and Margot might have survived were quashed in July 1945, when he met with the Brilleslijper sisters, who had been imprisoned in Bergen-Belsen with Anne and Margot. They told him about their miserable last months and about their deaths due to illness and exhaustion.

Otto Frank married former Amsterdam neighbor and fellow Auschwitz survivor,Elfriede Geiringer in Amsterdam on 10 November 1953, and the couple moved to Basel, Switzerland, where he had family, including relatives’ children, with whom he shared his experiences.

Source

https://www.annefrank.org/en/anne-frank/main-characters/otto-frank/

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Anne & Kitty

kitty

If there is one thing that Anne Frank’s diary teaches us ,it’s the importance of context. If you take her diary out of context it probably is quite a boring book. But if you leave it in the context and the time it was written in it becomes a powerful story of daily life and the reality of the Holocaust. However what makes it more powerful then anything else is not how it was written but how it should have ended.

The diary ends abrupt because all those hiding in the annex were arrested in August 1944 and then were deported to several camps, of the 8 people only Anne’s father, Otto, survived. Anne died in Bergen Belsen. Her story should no have ended in death but in survival

The book “The Diary of a Young Girl”  really should never have been written or published, because Anne and her family really should never have been put in the situation that they had to hide,nor should they have ever had to flee their home in Frankfurt, because they were no enemies of any state they were just a normal family, minding their own business .

anne

The book has some versions with an introduction by Eleanor Roosevelt and in here lies an irony, if her husband had granted the visa to Otto Frank, The Visa Otto Frank had applied for at a time where it was quite clear what fate the Jews awaited in Europe, if that visa had been accepted then the book would never have been published.

To Anne it wasn’t only a diary it was also het best friend she called Kitty, a way of telling her friend of what was happening around her. Some people have criticized Otto Frank for publishing the book in the firts place because they felt it was a violation of the privacy of his youngest daughter, these people do not realize that Anne had wanted her diary to be made public anyway. Shortly after D-Day the Dutch government in exile had announced via Radio Orange BBC, that all documented records would be treated as evidence, that’s why Anne edited her diary so it could be used as a work of evidence.

The Dutch government however treated their Jewish citizens poorly after the war. Many could not return to their homes because others lived there then. Sometimes they were issued with bills for tax arrears.

It was only on January 26,2020 the Dutch prime minister issued an apology for the treatment of the Jews. It was on the 80th birthday of the survivor and campaigner for the apology, Eddy Boas Just 1 day before the 75th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz.

train

75% or 104,000 of all Dutch Jews were murdered during the Shoah, this was by the far the highest number of Jews ,per capita, in all of Europe. The contradiction though is that in February 1941, the Dutch went on strike en mass to protest against the treatment of Jews by the Nazi regime. This was the only mass collective act of defiance against the Nazis in the occupied territories.

I watched the documentary  #AnneFrank – Parallel Stories, last night. I didn’t really like the insincerity and overacting of Helen Mirrens’s reading of the diary but it was a powerful documentary nonetheless, In the film ,Ronald Leopold, the Executive Director of the Anne Frank House said something very important and something I totally agree with, it does explain to an extend why so many of the Dutch Jews were deported and murdered. It was all about choices , some chose to resist, some chose to collaborate but the majority chose to do nothing.

We all have to ensure that we never ever choose to do nothing again. The fight against Holocaust denial and anti-Semitism should not be on the shoulders of the survivors and their families, it is a fight we all must fight otherwise words like Never Again or Never Forget become hollow slogans.

Anne Frank had Kitty to relay her message to, we have the whole world via internet and social media.

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Sources

https://www.bbc.com/news/world-europe-51258081

https://www.netflix.com/ie/title/81264660

https://encyclopedia.ushmm.org/content/en/article/the-netherlands