The Siege of Leningrad

Today marks the 80th anniversary of the start of the siege of Leningrad.

The Siege of Leningrad was one of the deadliest and most destructive sieges in the history of the world – quite possibly the deadliest ever. It would last for 872 days, and there would be more than a million Soviet civilian casualties, plus another million Soviet military casualties and half a million German casualties.

The effect of the siege on the city was devastating . Food shortages were chronic, deaths from starvation, disease and cold were constant and cannibalism occurred throughout the years of the siege. The number of deaths in Leningrad was the single largest loss of life ever known in a modern city.

The Soviets managed to break the siege on 18 January 1943 by opening a narrow land corridor, but it would not be fully lifted until 27 January 1944 when they managed to fully repel the Germans on their drive west.

What is a lesser known fact is that it wasn’t only the Germans who laid siege on Leningrad.

The Finnish army invaded from the north, co-operating with the Germans until Finland had recaptured territory lost in the recent Winter War, but refused to make further approaches to the city. Also co-operating with the Germans after August 1942 was the Spanish Blue Division. It was transferred to the southeastern flank of the siege of Leningrad, just south of the Neva near Pushkin, Kolpino and its main intervention was in Krasny Bor in the Izhora River area.

The population of Leningrad suffered greatly. Despite all the suffering there were still some people who sacrificed their lives to safekeep things that were dear and important to them.

When the German and Finnish forces began their siege of Leningrad, choking food supply to the city’s two million residents, one group of people preferred to starve to death despite having plenty of ‘food.’ The Leningrad seedbank was diligently preserved through the 28-month Siege of Leningrad.

While the Soviets had ordered the evacuation of art from the Hermitage, they had not evacuated the 250,000 samples of seeds, roots, and fruits stored in what was then the world’s largest seedbank. A group of scientists, headed by Nikolai Vavilov, at the Vavilov Institute boxed up a cross section of seeds, moved them to the basement, and took shifts protecting them. Those guarding the seedbank refused to eat its contents, even though by the end of the siege in the spring of 1944, nine of them had died of starvation.

During the siege of Leningrad, a teenage girl Tanya Savicheva, kept a diary. She lost all her family but she herself was eventually evacuated out of the city in August 1942, along with about 150 other children, to a village called Shatki. But whilst most of the others recovered and lived, Tanya, already too ill, died of tuberculosis on 1 July 1944. Below is one her diary entries, it says everything you need to know how awful the siege was.

Zhenya died on December 28th at 12 noon, 1941. Grandma died on the 25th of January at 3 o’clock, 1942. Leka died March 17th, 1942, at 5 o’clock in the morning, 1942

Uncle Vasya died on April 13th at 2 o’clock in the morning, 1942. Uncle Lesha May 10th, at 4 o’clock in the afternoon, 1942. Mama on May 13th at 7:30 in the morning, 1942

The Savichevs are dead. Everyone is dead. Only Tanya is left.

sources

https://www.wilsoncenter.org/event/stalin-vs-science-the-life-and-murder-nikolai-vavilov

https://www.kew.org/read-and-watch/the-tragic-tale-of-nikolai-vavilov

https://www.onthisday.com/photos/siege-of-leningrad

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

Moshe Flinker- a school boy’s diary.

Education is often seen as a human right and it really should be, but so often it is a privilege taken away from many.

Moshe Flinker was a teenager born in the Hague, in the Netherlands on October 9, 1926. He had a particular talent for language,he studied eight languages including Hebrew. The language he used to write his diary.

Now I could write a lot about Moshe , about his life in the Hague or about his life in Brussels, where he and his family hid from the summer on 1942 to 1944. He and his family remained relatively safe until 7 April 1944, the eve of Passover. But they were betrayed by an informer. Moshe’s Father had managed to keep the family safe by obtaining a so-called Aryan permit snf bribery thus far.

Rather then writing about his life I think it is better to give a glimpse of Moshe’s life in his won words.

“November 24, 1942
For some time now I have wanted to note down every evening what I have
been doing during the day. But, for various reasons, I have only got round to it tonight.
First, let me explain why I am doing this – and I must start by describing why I came here to Brussels.
I was born in The Hague, the Dutch Queen’s city, where I passed my early
years peacefully. I went to elementary school and then to a commercial
school, where I studied for only two years. In 1940, when the Germans
entered Holland, I had another two years to go until graduation. They issued a decree forbidding Jewish students to attend schools staffed by gentile
(“Aryan”) teachers, and so I was prevented from finishing my course. The
exclusion of Jews from public schools is just one of a long list of restrictions:
they had been forced to hand over their radios, they were not allowed into the movies, etc.
In the big cities, where many Jews lived, special schools for Jews were
opened, with only Jewish teachers. One such school was opened in The
Hague. Our school was a high school with three departments: classical
languages, modern subjects, and commerce. I, of course, continued my
commercial studies. During the year I attended, the number of restrictions onus rose greatly.

Several months before the end of the school year we had to turn in our bicycles to the police. From that time on, I rode to school by streetcar, but a day or two before the vacations started Jews were forbidden to ride on street-cars. I then had to walk to school, which took about an hour and a half. However, I continued going to school during those last days because I wanted to get my report card and find out whether I had been promoted to the next class. At that time I still thought that I would be able to return to school after the vacations; but I was wrong. Even so, I must mention that I did get my promotion.
Now I wish to note the restrictions inflicted upon us during the vacations. I
forgot to mention that during that year we had been forced to sew a “Badge of Shame” on the left side of our outer clothing. This “Badge” was a Star of
David, on which the word “Jew” was written in Dutch.
Halfway through that year the Germans began gathering Jews into the big
cities, particularly Amsterdam. Jews were not permitted to move anywhere
except to Amsterdam. When there were enough Jews there, the Germans
began sending them to destinations which are still unknown to me today. This is the way they sent them: many Jewish families would receive letters ordering them to get ready for a three-days’ journey. They were to get food for the trip and also take whatever clothes and utensils would be necessary for the journey. Then at midnight they had to go to the railroad station. From there they were sent to Westerbork, a detention camp near the Dutch-German border”

Moshe’s siblings survived but he and his parents were murdered in Auschwitz.

Sources

https://www.facinghistory.org/resource-library/text/moshe-flinker-s-diary-entry-hiding-january-19-1943

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David Koker- Not just a diarist.

David Koker

There are probably quite a few people who will have heard of David Koker,  or at least will know about the diary he wrote during his imprisonment at camp Vught, in the Netherlands.

The diary was published in 1977 with the name Dagboek geschreven in Vught and was published in 2012 it was translated into English and published wit the title  At the Edge of the Abyss: A Concentration Camp Diary, 1943-1944.It was written between 11 February 1943 and  8 February 1944.

On the night of 11 February 1943,David and his family were arrested in Amsterdam and arrested and transported to camp Vught. For this transport they actually received a train ticket, and if you see the ticket it looks like something nice was done to the Koker family. It appears to be an act of charity.

urn-gvn-EVDO01-MMNIOD01-244_1657-medium

It was issued by the ‘Centre of Jewish emigration Amsterdam, and ordered by the Hauptsturmbahnführer Woerlein.

The text of the ticket says ” The keeper of this permit and ticket referring to call up of the same number, has the right to travel free of charge by allocated train to the Station of Hoogthalen. The permit and ticket have to be shown without being asked to the train staff at the station of Hooghalen. The inspector will then tear the ticket from the permit”

At  the bottom it says “If you show this ticket you can avail at cost of transport via tram or bus at the above mentioned date”

Hooghalen

If you wouldn’t know the history you could be forgiven that the ticket was a charitable thing to do, but in fact it was the first step to the transition of systematic murder.

I won’t post anything from his diary. I leave it up to all of you to find the diary and read it yourself. However I will put down below 2 pieces he wrote. The first piece I belive is either from 1939 or early 1940. It illustrates David’s awareness of what was happening around him and in Germany.

“The finest experts of the human heart,can’t make me out.I’m quite a thing apart/ They say that from them I perhaps should quit. “You sir, don’t fit our system one small bit””

On 2 June 1944, while the family was being transported to Auschwitz-Birkenau, David managed to throw a letter from the train. Below is an excerpt of that note.

“Dear friends, we are close to the border now. It is very disappointing, but we were prepared for it and remain hopeful. I think a lot about you. (…) I’ve got all your letters and photos with me. My dearest possessions. When will we see each other again? That will take a long time. But we shall survive. (…) Lots of love guys, thanks for everything. Goodbye.”

Auschwitz Birkenau would not be the final destination for David.On February 23 1945 he died in Gross-Rosen concentration camp. He was aged 23. David’s mother and brother Max survived the war.

Ending the blog with a picture taken in 1930 in Amsterdam of the Koker family..

koker

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Sources

https://www.joodsmonument.nl/en/page/507940/about-david-koker

https://geheugen.delpher.nl/nl/geheugen/view/oorlogsdagboek-koker-david-koker-david?coll=ngvn&maxperpage=36&page=2&query=Auschwitz&identifier=EVDO01%3AMMNIOD01-244_1657

https://books.google.ie/books?id=-cT2yHpiSgUC&printsec=frontcover#v=onepage&q&f=false

https://www.coenraadrood.org/nl/westerbork/aankomst-in-kamp-westerbork

http://www.stationsweb.nl/station.asp?station=Hooghalen

 

 

 

 

Three shots! Three lives lost! All I can hear are shots, shots.

diary

“Three shots! Three lives lost! All I can hear are shots, shots.” This line is the final entry of Renia Spiegel’s diary. It is the final entry but it was not written by her but by her boyfriend.

Renia had left her diary with her boyfriend ,Zygmunt Schwarzer,  for safekeeping. You see Renia could not write that line because one of those three shots was for her.

Zygmunt Schwarzer had helped Renia and his own parents  to hide in the attic of his Uncle’s house but an informant betrayed her whereabouts to the Nazis;s and Renia and Schwarzer’s parents  were shot in the street on July 30, 1942.

Her last name Spiegel means mirror in both the German and Dutch language. Renia’s story as so many others is a mirror we should look at. If we truly look into that mirror we can only come to one conclusion. So little has been learned form the horrors of the past, so little that we are bound to repeat them.

Ending this blog with some of Renia’s own words from July 15,1942 just over 2 weeks before she was killed . May her words  be a mirror to our souls.

“Remember this day; remember it well, You will tell generations to come. Since 8 o’clock today we have been shut away in the ghetto. I live here now. The world is separated from me and I’m separated from the world. Leaving the ghetto without a pass,  is punishable by death.

Inside, there are only our people, close ones, dear ones. Outside, there are strangers. My soul is so very sad. My heart is seized with terror,”

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Sources

The Smithsonian

The Guardian

Irish Times

 

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 were 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

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

CNN

Washington Post

Smithsonian

Learntoquestion.com

Yahoo News

Anne Frank- Just a teenage girl.

Anne Frank

When you look up information 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