A few days ago, I had the privilege to interview Lisa Liss concerning The Bandage Project, an organization she started to remember the 1.5 million children murdered during the Holocaust and other children.
Lisa Liss has taught her students about tolerance and how it affected millions of people, especially during the Holocaust. Many years later, blessed with a highly motivated group of fourth graders that wanted to learn more and do more! Thus began the Tolerance Kids! Through the years, they have held Tolerance Fairs, written a play with actual survivors in attendance, created Tolerance Gardens and murals and more. One part of their program is the award-winning Bandage Project! In 2008, my Tolerance Kids wanted a way to represent the 1.5 million children murdered during the Holocaust. e decided that bandages would honour children; they come in all shapes, sizes, colours, and most of all—heal the pain.
“Children are not the people of tomorrow but are people of today. They have a right to be taken seriously, and to be treated with tenderness and respect. They should be allowed to grow into whoever They were meant to be. ‘The unknown person’ inside of them is our hope for the future.” —Janusz Korczak
On October 30, 1944, Margot Frank and her younger sister Anne were put on a transport from Auschwitz to Bergen Belsen. By November 1944, Bergen Belsen received approximately 9,000 women and young girls. Margot and Anne were murdered there in February 1945. I deliberately say murdered because they were ill and received no treatment—to me, that is murder.
On October 30, 1944, Margot Frank and her younger sister Anne were put on a transport from Auschwitz to Bergen Belsen. By November 1944, Bergen Belsen received approximately 9,000 women and young girls. Margot and Anne were murdered there in February 1945. I deliberately say murdered because they were ill and received no treatment—to me, that is murder. The story of Anne is well-known through her diary. It is believed that Margot kept a diary, but it was never found. I think her diary would probably tell an even more compelling story, she was three years older than Anne, and she would therefore had a better comprehension of what was going on in the world around them.
About Margo, Miep Gies said, “I didn’t have any relationship with Margot. She was there, and that was all.” Anne says more or less the same about her sister in her diary. Describing Margot at the table, she wrote “Eats like a little mouse, doesn’t say a word.”
I often wondered if they had remained in Auschwitz instead of being moved to Belsen-Bergen, would they have survived? I realize the irony of that statement, but it could have been a possibility.
“I have often been downcast but never in despair; I regard our hiding as a dangerous adventure, romantic and interesting at the same time. In my diary, I treat all the privations as amusing.” —Anne Frank
“Times change, people change, thoughts about good and evil change, about true and false. But what always remains fast and steady is the affection that your friends feel for you, those who always have your best interest at heart.” —Margot Frank
On September 3,1944 ,Anne Frank and her family were put on transport from Westerbork to Auschwitz. It would be the last train to leave Westerbork.The train arrived 3 days later in Auschwitz. The women selected from this transport, including Anne, Edith, and Margot, were marked with numbers between A-25060 and A-25271
Anne Frank’s final diary entry dates from 1 August 1944, three days before her arrest. Therefore the only information we have about what happened to Anne Frank in the six months between the arrest and her death in the Bergen-Belsen concentration camp comes from the testimonies of others.
Janny Brandes-Brilleslijper was one of those others.She had also been on that same transport and was in Auschwitz when Anne was there, but also in Bergen Belsen. Janny was the last person to see Anne alive.
She said about the arrival in Auschwitz.
”We were stripped in an icy room with the wind billowing through it. Five women under one trickle of water. No towels. Tattooed, shaved . . . we were totally confused and unable to understand anything,”
Upon arrival at Auschwitz, the SS forcibly split the men from the women and children, and Otto Frank was separated from his family. Those deemed able to work were admitted into the camp, and those deemed unfit for labour were immediately killed. Of the 1,019 passengers, 549—including all children younger than 15—were sent directly to the gas chambers. Anne Frank, who had turned 15 three months earlier, was one of the youngest people spared from her transport. She was soon made aware that most people were gassed upon arrival and never learned that the entire group from the Achterhuis had survived this selection. She reasoned that her father, in his mid-fifties and not particularly robust, had been killed immediately after they were separated.
Janny worked as a nurse in the Nazi camps where she provided clothing, medicine, and food to fellow prisoners. She saw Anne Frank, two or three days before she died of typhus in the Bergen-Belsen concentration camp in the spring of 1945.
“During the final days, I saw Anne standing there, wrapped in a blanket, with no tears left to cry. Well, we hadn’t had tears for some time. And then, a few days later I went to look for the Frank girls and learned that Margot had fallen from her bunk. Just like that, onto the stone floor, dead. The next day, Anne died as well.”
Janny had been in the Jewish resistance, in Amsterdam during the war, forging identification papers to help other Jews escape the Nazis, before she and Anne were deported from Amsterdam.
She died of heart failure in Amsterdam on 15 August, 2003 at the age of 86.
Mariette Huisjes of the Anne Frank House said this about Janny.
“Anne was sick and hallucinating and had thrown away her clothes, because she was afraid of lice. Ms. Brandes-Brilleslijper gave her clothes and some food. She mostly helped young people in the camps in those difficult times.”
I watched the movie “My Best Friend Anne Frank” last night, I know about the amount of criticism when it was first released, I don’t really know why though, of course, there was some fictionalisation. However in essence the main story is true. But this is not going to be a movie review.
The story is from the point of view of Hannah (Hanneli) Goslar, who like Anne had fled Germany with her family when the Nazis came to power. Anne Frank was her best friend.
What I liked about the story was it didn’t show Anne as some mythical creature, it showed Anne for who and what she was, a playful young teenage girl. Both girls had interests in fashion, parties and boys. So sad to think that both their lives were interrupted.
In June 1943, Hannah, her father, her maternal grandparents, along with Hannah’s younger sister Gabrielle (“Gabi”), were arrested and sent to the Westerbork transit camp, and then eventually to Bergen-Belsen in February 1944. Hannah was in a slightly better section of the camp because her family had Paraguayan passports with them. Sometime between January and February 1945, Hannah was briefly reunited with Anne Frank, who was on the other side of the camp. Hannah tossed Anne a package with some bread and socks in it over a hay-filled barbed wire fence dividing the two sections.
In the movie, you can hear Anne Frank being upset because someone stole the first package Hannah had thrown over the fence. How awful must that have been? TThere is very little known about the last weeks of Anne Frank’s life in Bergen-Belsen but the movie does give a small glimpse.
Hannah and Gabi survived 14 months at Bergen-Belsen. Her father and maternal grandparents died of illnesses before the liberation. She was rescued along with the other survivors of the Lost Train. Hannah and Gabi were the only members of their family to survive the war and, in 1947, they immigrated to Jerusalem.
On the morning of 4 August 1944, the Achterhuis was stormed by a group of German uniformed police (Grüne Polizei) led by SS-Oberscharführer Karl Silberbauer of the Sicherheitsdienst. Anne Frank and all the others who hid in the Achterhuis (annexe) were arrested. Only Anne’s father, Otto, survived.
75 years ago today Anne Frank’s diary was published. It became one of the biggest selling books of all times.
These are just some of the entries of her diary.
October 9th 1942: “Today I have nothing but dismal and depressing news to report. Our many Jewish friends and acquaintances are being taken away in droves. The Gestapo is treating them very roughly and transporting them in cattle cars to Westerbork, the big camp in Drenthe to which they’re sending all the Jews. Miep told us about someone who’d managed to escape from there. It must be terrible in Westerbork. The people get almost nothing to eat, much less to drink, as water is available only one hour a day, and there’s only one toilet and sink for several thousand people. Men and women sleep in the same room, and women and children often have their heads shaved. Escape is almost impossible; many people look Jewish, and they’re branded by their shorn heads. If it’s that bad in Holland, what must it be like in those faraway and uncivilised places where the Germans are sending them? We assume that most of them are being murdered. The English radio says they’re being gassed. Perhaps that’s the quickest way to die. I feel terrible. Miep’s accounts of these horrors are so heartrending… Fine specimens of humanity, those Germans, and to think I’m actually one of them! No, that’s not true, Hitler took away our nationality long ago. And besides, there are no greater enemies on earth than the Germans and Jews.”
October 20th 1942: “My hands still shaking, though it’s been two hours since we had the scare… The office staff stupidly forgot to warn us that the carpenter, or whatever he’s called, was coming to fill the extinguishers… After working for about fifteen minutes, he laid his hammer and some other tools on our bookcase (or so we thought!) and banged on our door. We turned white with fear. Had he heard something after all and did he now want to check out this mysterious looking bookcase? It seemed so, since he kept knocking, pulling, pushing and jerking on it. I was so scared I nearly fainted at the thought of this total stranger managing to discover our wonderful hiding place…”
March 29th 1944: “Mr Bolkestein, the Cabinet Minister, speaking on the Dutch broadcast from London, said that after the war a collection would be made of diaries and letters dealing with the war. Of course, everyone pounced on my diary.”
July 15th 1944: “It’s utterly impossible for me to build my life on a foundation of chaos, suffering and death. I see the world being slowly transformed into a wilderness, I hear the approaching thunder that, one day, will destroy us too, I feel the suffering of millions. And yet, when I look up at the sky, I somehow feel that everything will change for the better, that this cruelty too will end, that peace and tranquillity will return once more. In the meantime, I must hold on to my ideals. Perhaps the day will come when I’ll be able to realise them.”
Today is Anne Frank’s birthday. She was born June 12,1929. We all know her story through her diary, therefor I will not really go into Anne’s story but I will look at some other children who were also born on June 12,1929 and who were also murdered during the Holocaust.
Levy Spanjer, born in Amsterdam, 12 June 1929 .Murdered in Auschwitz, 12 February 1943. Reached the age of 13 years.
Philip Trijtel, born in Rotterdam, 12 June 1929 . Murdered in Sobibor, 20 March 1943.Reached the age of 13 years. Unlike Levy, there is no picture or Philip, but there is a bit more data. Philip was transported from Westerbork to Sobibor on March 17,1943. Where he was murdered 3 days later.
Sara Kloos, born in Amsterdam, 12 June 1929. Murdered in Auschwitz, 11 December 1942.Reached the age of 13 years. Although there is only a registration card as a record of Sara. That card tells us that she arrived in Westerbork on November 26,1942 and that she was deported to Auschwitz on December 8,1942, where she was murdered 3 days later.
Salomon Seijffers, born in Gouda. 12 June 1929. Murdered in Sobibor on 28 May,1943.Reached the age of 13. A year before he was murdered he did his Bar Mitswa, on May 30,1942, although it says Bar Mitswo in the newspaper announcement.
Before being transported to Westerbork, May 24-1943, he was imprisoned in Camp Vught. On May 25,1942 he was deported to Sobibor where he was murdered 3 days later.
A stumbling block, stolper stein has been placed for Salomon Seijffers in front of Lage Gouwe 84 in Gouda, the Netherlands.
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On 11 June 1941, a second raid took place in Amsterdam as a result of the attacks on buildings occupied by the German Wehrmacht. Jewish cafes and sports clubs were ransacked. 310 young Jewish men were arrested by the Amsterdam police and Ordnungspolizei. Some came from the Jewish working village of Wieringermeer. They were taken to the SD building on Euterpestraat and then to Kamp Schoorl. Some were released for health reasons. The rest of the men were sent to Camp Mauthausen on 26 June 1941. The raid was revenge for a bomb attack by the resistance on 14 May 1941 and an attack on the Luftwaffe telephone exchange on 3 June 1941. None of the Jewish men returned from Camp Mauthausen.
One of those men was Adolph Gerson Frohmann (pictured above). He was murdered in Mauthausen on 16 January 1942.
The Nazis arrested 310 young Jewish men. Otto Frank was not arrested, but friends and neighbours from the Merwedeplein area, where he had been living for eight years, were. The raid happened a day before Anne Frank’s 12th birthday.
As a precaution, Otto Frank and other men from the square frequently spent the night at the homes of non-Jewish friends or colleagues. In all likelihood, these events prompted Otto Frank to start thinking about a proper hiding place. After attempts to emigrate to the US had failed, he started working on plans to take his family into hiding in the Secret Annex in earnest in the spring of 1942.
There was a stark contrast compared to the raids that had taken place in Amsterdam in February 1941. At that time, the population of Amsterdam and other cities across the Netherlands had gone on a massive general strike in protest against the persecution of the Jews, but in June 1941, the city stayed silent. The Nazis had violently suppressed the February strike, instilling fear in the population. The Amsterdam resistance newspaper Het Parool and other illegal newspapers expressed their abhorrence of the raids of 11 June. They called on people to not cooperate with the Germans and to sabotage them whenever they could. For the larger part, though, the Amsterdam population largely ignored this call.
On April 15, the 63rd Anti-tank Regiment and the 11th Armoured Division of the British army liberated about 60,000 prisoners at the Bergen-Belsen concentration camp.
One of the soldiers, 21 year old Corporal Ian Forsyth, called it “A place of darkness and death.” What the British troops encountered was described by the BBC’s Richard Dimbleby, who accompanied them:
“…Here over an acre of ground lay dead and dying people. You could not see which was which… The living lay with their heads against the corpses and around them moved the awful, ghostly procession of emaciated, aimless people, with nothing to do and with no hope of life, unable to move out of your way, unable to look at the terrible sights around them … Babies had been born here, tiny wizened things that could not live … A mother, driven mad, screamed at a British sentry to give her milk for her child, and thrust the tiny mite into his arms, then ran off, crying terribly. He opened the bundle and found the baby had been dead for days. This day at Belsen was the most horrible of my life.”
Major Dick Williams was one of the first British soldiers to enter Bergen-Belsen. On April 15, 1945,he described his first impressions of the camp and its atmosphere of death.
“But we went further on into the camp, and seen these corpses lying everywhere. You didn’t know whether they were living or dead. Most of them were dead. Some were trying to walk, some were stumbling, some on hands and knees, but in the lagers, the barbed wire around the huts, you could see that the doors were open. The stench coming out of them was fearsome.
They were lying in the doorways – tried to get down the stairs and fallen and just died on the spot. And it was just everywhere. Going into, more deeper, into the camp the stench got worse and the numbers of dead – they were just impossible to know how many there were…Inside the camp itself, it was just unbelievable. You just couldn’t believe the numbers involved.
This was one of the things which struck me when I first went in, that the whole camp was so quiet and yet there were so many people there. You couldn’t hear anything, there was just no sound at all and yet there was some movement – those people who could walk or move – but just so quiet. You just couldn’t understand that all those people could be there and yet everything was so quiet… It was just this oppressive haze over the camp, the smell, the starkness of the barbed wire fences, the dullness of the bare earth, the scattered bodies and these very dull, too, striped grey uniforms – those who had it – it was just so dull. The sun, yes the sun was shining, but they were just didn’t seem to make any life at all in that camp. Everything seemed to be dead. The slowness of the movement of the people who could walk. Everything was just ghost-like and it was just unbelievable that there were literally people living still there. There’s so much death apparent that the living, certainly, were in the minority”
Major Leonard Berney, recalled:
“I remember being completely shattered. The dead bodies lying down beside the road, the starving emaciated prisoners still mostly behind barbed wire, the open mass graves containing hundreds of corpses, the stench, the sheer horror of the place, were indescribable. None of us who entered the camp had any warning of what we were about to see or had ever experienced anything remotely like it before.”
Harry Oakes and Bill Lawrie both served with the Army Film and Photographic Unit (AFPU).The unit was established in 1941 to produce an official record of the British Army’s role during the Second World War. Both men arrived at Bergen-Belsen to record conditions in the camp. They recall how British forces gained access to the camp.
“About that time the chaps attached to 11th Armoured Division had seen a staff car come up to Headquarters one day with a German officer, or two German officers I believe, blindfolded and when they made enquiries they were told that they were from a Political Prison Camp at Belsen. The Germans, anticipating us capturing the camp or over-running it, wanted the British to send in an advanced party to prevent these prisoners who were supposed to be infected with typhus from escaping.
But the force we wanted to send in was too much. The Germans felt it wouldn’t have been air so they agreed on a compromise that they would leave 1,000 Wehrmacht behind if we returned them within ten days. So we were standing by at Lüneburg, Lawrie and myself, to go into Belsen…We had this business of the staff car with the white flags telling us that there was a typhus hospital on the way ahead of us, and would we be willing to call a halt to any actual battle until this area was taken over in case of escapees into Europe and the ravage that would take place.
And as far as I know, the Brigadier believed this story, and we set sail that evening to have a look at this typhus hospital under a white flag. And there was no typhus hospital. There was barbed wire, sentry boxes, a huge garrison building for SS troopers, and Belsen concentration camp. And, as I say, we drove up in two, three jeeps, four jeeps maybe, in the evening, and we saw this concentration camp that we believed was a typhus hospital. But we knew immediately that it wasn’t a typhus hospital.”
Finishing this blog with a quote from Bergen Belsen’s mots famous victim, Anne Frank.
“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!”
I am a member of several history websites and I get daily notifications abut events that happened in history this day. Today I got the notification that on this day in 1945 Anne Frank died in Bergen Belsen
I don’t know how they got to that conclusion because the exact date Anne and Margot Frank death is not known. But this is that forgotten tragedy of their deaths their family like Otto Frank and the girls’ Aunt Leni Frank Elias did not have a date where they could remember the death of the 2 girls, and maybe light a candle for them. Nor would they have a date where they could say a specific prayer.
Luckily Leni Frank-Elias moved to Basel. in Switzerland in the 1930s together with her husband and her sons Stephan and Bernhard(Bernd)aka Buddy.
Anne Frank clearly was very fond of her cousin Bernhard
Buddy (Bernd), was born in Frankfurt in 1925 and grew up in Basel. After his international career as an ice clown and actor, he became the President of the Anne Frank Fonds in Basel.
In a letter to Alice Fran dated 13 January 1941, Anne Frank wrote:
«I’m at the rink every spare minute. (…) I’m taking skating classes regularly now, where we’re learning how to dance and jump and everything else. (…) I hope that I’ll learn to skate as well as Bernd someday. (…) Bernd, maybe we can skate as a pair together someday, but I know I’d have to train very hard to get to be as good as you are.»
On 3 June 1942, Anne writes a birthday letter to her cousin Buddy. This is the last direct contact between the two cousins. One month later, on 6 July, the Franks leave their apartment in Merwedeplein in Amsterdam and go into hiding in the secret annex, which had been ready for months.
Such a tragedy that Anne and Margot Frank’s family and friends were even denied the date of their death.
I often think that Edith Frank is a forgotten hero. She was stuck with so many people in such a small space while desperately avoiding being discovered. That would be challenging to anyone’s health. But Edith could not afford to lose her sanity, not even for one second.v
She was born in the German city of Aachen, close to the Dutch border, on 16 January 1900. Aachen is only a 20 minutes journey from Maastricht in the Netherlands.
She was the fourth child in a wealthy Jewish family. Her parents ran a family business, trading in scrap metal, machinery and parts, boilers, other appliances, and semi-finished products.
Her father, Abraham Holländer (1860–1928), was a successful businessman, prominent in the Aachen Jewish community, along with Edith’s mother, Rosa Stern (1866–1942). The ancestors of the Holländer family had lived in Amsterdam since the start of the 18th century. They emigrated from the Netherlands to Germany around 1800. Edith’s maiden name, Holländer, is German for “Dutchman.”
I wonder how excited Edith’s parents must have been in the final days of the 19th century. Were they hoping that Edith would be born 16 days early so that Edith would have been the first child born in the 20th century?
Edith had three siblings: Walter, Julius, and Bettina. Edith had a carefree childhood until her older sister Bettina died and the cause of death is unknown. At fourteen, Edith herself, was harshly confronted with death. She still managed to get on with her life: she finished high school and worked in the family business for a few years.
In 1924, Edith met Otto Frank. They were married on 12 May 1925, in Aachen’s synagogue. Their first daughter, Margot, was born in 1926, whereas their second daughter, Anne, was born in 1929.
Anne did not have much sympathy for her mother during their tumultuous years in the annexe, and she only had a few kind words to say about her, particularly in the earlier entries. Anne felt that her mother was cold, critical, and uncaring, that they had very little in common, and that her mother did not know how to show love to her children. I don’t think that Anne realised the anxiety her mother must have had trying to keep her family safe. Then again, what teenage girl gets along with her mother?
However, in Anne’s later entries in her diary, she tried attempts to look at her mother’s life as a wife and mother in an objective manner. As Anne got older and gained a clearer perspective, she began to regret her quick judgments of her mother. Anne had more sympathetic feelings for her mother.
According to Otto, Edith suffered more from their arguments than Anne did. “Of course, I was worried about my wife and Anne not having a good relationship. However, she truly was an excellent mother, who put her children above all else. She often complained that Anne would oppose everything she did, but she was comforted to know that Anne trusted in me.”
Edith Frank died on 6 January 1945, three weeks before the liberation of Auschwitz-Birkenau and ten days before her 45th birthday. The cause of death was malnutrition—basically murdered by starvation.
It gives me comfort to believe that Edith is now celebrating her birthday with her family in heaven. And if the stars sparkle more brightly tonight, I will know she had a good birthday. Happy Birthday, Edith Frank.