Otto Frank

On this day 40 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 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 Fathert 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.

Di

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 ten 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 BoasJust 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 contradictory 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 Hellen 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 choose to resist, some choose to collaborate but the majority choose 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 Nver 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

 

Does it really matter who betrayed Anne Frank?

anne frank

The question who betrayed Anne Frank and the others hiding in the annex, has never really been conclusively answered. There are plenty of well founded speculations but there has not been a 100% certainty yet to who betrayed them.

There is also still a possibility that no one betrayed them but that they were discovered by accident. Contrary to popular believe it can actually get quite hot in the Netherlands during the summer months. The early days in August 1944 the average temperature was 21 degrees Centigrade(72 Fahrenheit). In the big cities it often feels hotter. There was no air conditioning in the small annex, there were 8 people in there. Maybe someone just briefly opened  a window a bit for some fresh air and this may have been spotted.

I know this theory adds to more speculation ,but here is the thing. Does it really mater who betrayed them?

I believe the only thing that matters is that they should not have been in that annex in the first place. They should have been able to walk around freely wherever they so desired. Their rights should never have been taken away, They were human beings just like anyone else.

It is true that the Nazi regime who had occupied the Netherlands at the time persecuted all the Jews in the country, but this regime would not have been so successful if they hadn’t received assistance from the public servants who insisted in doing their jobs to their best ability. Maybe this was out of fear, and to an extent it was but there were those who endorsed the ruthless regime.

Of course there were more people who were totally horrified by the evil deeds  they witnessed, and often were crippled by fear.

If we keep on asking who betrayed Anne Frank, we also have to look why did they receive so little help from others, before they had to go into hiding. This question has answers which not many people want to hear, because that implicates governments including the US government who refused to give Otto Frank and his family Visas.

So the real answer to who betrayed Anne Frank is, nearly everyone.

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My letter to Anne Frank

anne

Dear Anne,

You don’t know me, but I know you.In fact nearly everyone knows you, and yet no one really knows you.

We know you  through your personal stories you wrote in your diary. We see each word, each letter and each paragraph, but we don’t see your hopes, your fears or your anxiety. You write about them , however we cannot really imagine how it must have been. I know I can’t.

Although because of a virus which has engulfed the world now, we are all told to stay at home as much as possible, we get a bit of an inkling how it must have been for  you and your family, but not really. All we have to do is to stay at home and enjoy ourselves. We can write like you did, but we don’t have to stay silent, we don’t have to be afraid to be dragged out of our house.We can do whatever we want to do.

In your time there was also a virus,it was fueled with and by hate, a sickening ideology.

I have a daughter who is about the same age as you, she even looks a bit like you. I really don’t know what I would do if something would happen to her, I am sure I would be devastated, sad and angry and more then likely would want some sort of revenge, but those are just speculation for I try not to think of an event like that.

I once passed by your house or rather the place you hid in, I could not get in because there was a queue of several hundred meters of people who had booked a ticket to see the annex. A thought then came to me, what if there had been a similar queue on the morning of 4 August 1944, the day you and your family were arrested, and what if all the people in that queue would have protested against the arrest, would have made a difference?

You’ll be happy to know your book has become one of the biggest selling books ever, only in recent time it has been surpassed by the books about another teenager, a boy called Harry Potter, but his story is fictional whereas yours is a brutal reality. I am sure though you would have loved his stories.

Even now there are people who dispute the genuinity of your writing. They say your father tempered with it. I am not angry with those people, I pity them, their indifference blinds them to the power of your words, the lessons to be learned from them.

What saddens me the most is not so much that you died a horrible death but the fact it is not even known when you died, it says about the date February or March 1945.

Dear Anne, I am not going to say you are a hero because you weren’t really. You were a young teenage girl whose diary should never have published, but whose life should have been lived to the fullest. Nothing excuses your death, it should not have happened.

Maybe one day when I leave my earthly coil behind we may meet ,but for now know this your memory lives on. Evil was not able to silence you.

 

Yours truly

Dirk de Klein, a father of a teenage girl.

Self Isolation

anne

In many countries around the globe people are being advised to self isolate when they have or think they may have symptoms of the Covid 19 infection. The recommended period vary between 7 and 14 days.

Many people say this has never happened before.However for many this was a reality due to the virus  created by Adolf Hitler and his like minded friends in Germany and other European countries, a virus fueled by hate and indifference. The difference though the Covid 19 virus has a high survival rate whereas the Nazi virus meant a certain death for many, especially when you were Jewish,Gypsy,Disabled or or other groups deemed sub human by the Nazis.

To survive many went into hiding, which was basically an extreme  form of self isolation. There are many examples but I am sticking to the most famous account of ‘ Self Isolation’ that of the Frank family.

annex

Of the Frank family only Otto, the Father, survived. He lost hos 2 daughters and his wife to this ‘virus of hate and indifference’

Below are some diary entries of Anne and also some words of Margot.

Margot

Margot 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.”

anne frank

Anne Frank

“Last night Margot and I were lying side by side in my bed. It was incredibly cramped, but that’s what made it fun. She asked if she could read my diary once in a while. ‘Parts of it,’ I said, and asked about hers. She gave me permission to read her diary as well.”

“Everyone has inside of him a piece of good news. The good news is that you don’t know how great you can be! How much you can love! What you can accomplish! And what your potential is!”

margot and anne

A vaccine against the Covid 19/Corona virus is currently in development, especially scientists in Israel are making a good progress on a vaccine and a treatment. Just imagine what could have been if the Nazis hadn’t been able to carry out their final solution.

Unfortunately there is no vaccine as of yet against hate and indifference.

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What could have been.

Margot

Just a young girl standing outside of her school  in Amsterdam,with a sign saying ‘memory of my school time 1936’ . The whole future was still ahead of her. The possibilities were endless.Her dream was to become a midwife, a noble profession to help deliver new life, witness the joy of the young mothers, but sometimes also the anxiety and grief when things did not go to plan.

There is no doubt in my mind that she would have become a fabulous midwife. Unfortunately it was not to be. On July 5, 1942, she received a message to report to a labor camp. She didn’t she went into hiding instead the following day, together with the rest of her family, including her younger sister, who would sell millions of books.

On 4 August 1944 the Gestapo came and arrested her and her family. She and her sister ended up in Bergen Belsen after having been in Westerbork and Auschwitz prior to that. Her sister and her were put on the last deportation from Auschwitz.

In Bergen Belsen she died of typhus either in February or March 1945, the exact date is not known. It could have been even before her 19th birthday on February 16th, but the date is not known. Her sister dies a few days later, the girls are buried in the same grave.

All the babies she could have helped deliver as a midwife. All the artiste,scientists or trades people. But she never got the chance.

The girl in the picture is Margot Frank, Anne Frank’s older sister.

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Source

Rare Historical Pictures

 

93 Trains

transport

93 trains left concentration camp Westerbork in the Netherlands between July 1942 and September 1944. All the trains were heading eastbound. Not one single  journey would be  a pleasant one , The final destination would more then likely result in death.

I deliberately call Westerbork a concentration camp, because that’s what it was, It is often referred to as a Transit camp, although technically correct, I am not comfortable with theat description, because I believe it lessens the horrific nature the camp really had. The irony,for lack of a better word,  is that in the summer of 1939 the camp was designated for Jewish refugees who fled Nazi Germany.

93 Trains

Auschwitz  58,380    854 survived.
Sobibor  34,313           18 survived.
Theresiënstadt 4,894   approximately  1,980 survived.
Bergen-Belsen 3,751     approximately 2,050 survived.
Buchenwald and Ravensbrück 150      10 survived.

Each number is a human being with a story of life lived, and a life that could have been.

On September 3,1944 the last train to Auschwitz departed from Westerbork. On that transport was an author who go one to sell millions of books. She and her family all arrived in Auschwitz 3 days later.

list

The author was Anne Frank.She never got to enjoy the success of her book. The fact is that if she would have survived, her diary would probably not have been published, and if I am honest, I would have preferred it that way. I would have preferred that she would have survived the war, together with all the other millions who were brutally murdered because they were either Jewish, Gypsy, Disabled,Communist,Jehovah Witness or just someone who spoke out to the regime.

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I am passionate about my site and I know you all like reading my blogs. I have been doing this at no cost and will continue to do so. All I ask is for a voluntary donation of $2 ,however if you are not in a position to do so I can fully understand, maybe next time then. Thanks To donate click on the credit/debit card icon of the card you will use. If you want to donate more then $2 just add a higher number in the box left from the paypal link. Many thanks

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Sources

Traces of War

Joods Mounument

NIOD

jodenvervolginginfotos.nl

 

Anne Frank-Just an ordinary girl.

anne frank

On August 4,1944 a tip from a Dutch informer led the Gestapo to the now so well known secret annex in Amsterdam. Anne Frank, her family and all the other occupants would be arrested.

Via her diary Anne Frank became one of the  symbols  of the Holocaust. I often read people describing her diary and her letters as ‘works’ as if they weer professional pieces of literature. But they weren’t ,they were words of a young girl coming of age, in the most anxious of circumstances. That is what makes it so special and powerful.

She was just an ordinary girl, as some of the below excerpts written by her illustrate.

“I have pretty long hair … Papa and Mama want me to get it cut but I’d much rather let it grow”  “I have a little appliance in my mouth, and braces … Now I have to go to the dentist every week, and it comes out the next day. This has been going on for eight weeks, and I find it very unpleasant, of course.”— Taken from a letter to her Grandmother. Spring 1941.

“From Papa and Mama a bicycle, a new school bag, a beach dress and various other things.Margot gave me this stationery, because I had run out, and I didn’t do too badly on candies and other little presents either. It’s very warm here, is it warm there too?” From a letter to her Grandmother written in June 1941, shortly after her birthday.

“It’s really a wonder that I haven’t dropped all my ideals, because they seem so absurd and impossible to carry out. Yet I keep them, because in spite of everything, I still believe that people are really good at heart. I simply can’t build up my hopes on a foundation consisting of confusion, misery, and death. I see the world gradually being turned into wilderness. I hear the ever approaching thunder, which will destroy us too. I can feel the suffering of millions and yet, if I look up into the heavens, I think that it will all come right, that this cruelty too will end, and that peace and tranquility will return again”. from her diary July 15, 1944.

” 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 ill, 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 any more, because when everybody starts hovering over me, I get cross, then sad, and finally end up turning my heart inside 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.” Her last diary entry August 1, 1944.

poem

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I am passionate about my site and I know you all like reading my blogs. I have been doing this at no cost and will continue to do so. All I ask is for a voluntary donation of $2 ,however if you are not in a position to do so I can fully understand, maybe next time then. Thanks To donate click on the credit/debit card icon of the card you will use. If you want to donate more then $2 just add a higher number in the box left from the paypal link. Many thanks

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Sources

CNN

Washington Post

Smithsonian

Learntoquestion.com

Yahoo News

 

Anne Frank 90

anne frank 0

Today would have been Anne Frank’s 90th birthday.

I have already done several blogs about Anne and her Family but today I just want to remember her birthday with some moments of her life.

To put in Anne’s own words.

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

If we all try to improve the world her death will not have been in vain.

Anne Frank- Just a teenage girl.

Anne Frank

When you look up in formation on Anne Frank, the first thing you will see is that she is described as a German born or Dutch Diarist as if she was a well established author or Journalist, but she wasn’t.

She was just a teenage girl who happened to write a diary, like so many other girls did in that time and probably still do. If she had been a teenager now, I am certain she would have been on Instagram.Snapchat, Facebook and other social media. She was a very bubbly girl who like to express herself.

Does this make her diary less valuable? No of course not, it makes it even more valuable because the diary was not written by a professional author but by a young girl who described her daily life , a life which so few can even fathom nowadays.

Her diary became her closest friend and ally. A tool to express her fear, boredom, and the struggles as a teenager growing up. On 16 March 1944, she wrote: “The nicest part is being able to write down all my thoughts and feelings, otherwise I’d absolutely suffocate.”

12 days later on March 28,1944 the exiled Dutch minister for education,Gerrit Bolkestein, gave a speech on Radio Orange where he appealed to listeners in the occupied Netherlands to record their everyday experiences on paper.

“If future generations are to realize to the full extent what we as a population are going through and what we are experiencing in this time of war, then it is clear that we will need simple documents: a diary, letters from a laborer forced to go to work in Germany, sermons spoken by a clergyman”.

Bolkesijn

Anne Frank, was one of the many who heard Bolkestein’s appeal at the time. That night she wrote about her housemates: “…of course, everyone rushed for my diary all at once”. She started to rework her diary and called it The Secret Annex.

Next week , June 12th will be Annelise Marie Frank’s 90th Birthday . I had planned to write a blog about Anne on that day, but I will be busy make a preparations for a trip I am taking with my teenage daughter.

Next time when you read about Anne Frank and you see her described as a German born or Dutch diarist please do not forget she was also just a teenage girl, who happened to have written a diary.

A teenage girl who still could be alive today, but her life was cut short by a brutal fascist regime. A regime which had no regard for life.

anne frank diary

Donation

I am passionate about my site and I know you all like reading my blogs. I have been doing this at no cost and will continue to do so. All I ask is for a voluntary donation of $2 ,however if you are not in a position to do so I can fully understand, maybe next time then. Thanks To donate click on the credit/debit card icon of the card you will use. If you want to donate more then $2 just add a higher number in the box left from the paypal link. Many thanks

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Sources

geheugenvannederland.nl

History Extra