In March of 1945, Anne and her sister, Margot Frank died of typhus at Bergen-Belsen concentration camp in Germany. They died within a day of each other, just weeks before the camp was liberated by British soldiers. Two young girls, were added to a roster of millions of Jewish children who died in those horrific camps long ago.
These two sisters, along with their parents and another family went through their own private hell as they hid in a secret annex in Amsterdam. Close quarters and limited rations were to be their life for 2 years. The families were Jewish and the Jews were an imperfect race in the eyes of the Nazis and had to be eliminated – according to Hitler and his minions. The only family member that survived the Holocaust was Otto Frank, the girls’ father.
I went to see a community theatre production of “The Diary of Anne Frank,” this past weekend. I’d never seen a performance of this work. I knew about the horrors of the Holocaust, because I was a young child during that time. We learned about the evil Nazi regime in school. Being taught about such suffering and inhumanity seems inappropriate today. Some schools refuse teach that part of history, because of the possibility of offending someone. I believe we need to know about such things, so we can learn from those mistakes and hopefully change the patterns of history.
I am friends of the two actors who played Anne and her mother, Edith. Since they are mother and daughter in actuality, their performances were based on that connection. Ann was delightfully portrayed as an optimistic teenager, going through the same things young girls have been enduring for centuries. Being the second of two children, she often felt like second best with her mother. The mother, having experienced the pain of having to move from her motherland in order to stay safe, was stunningly brought to life. The conflicts of mother and daughter were typical, but through all of it, Anne remained positive in her relationships and daily life. However many of her true feelings were depicted in the diary which was her constant companion during this time.
In such dire circumstances, this daily writing most likely allowed her to keep her sanity. At times, I feel that way as I write my blog. In actuality, when we write, we’re exposing ourselves to the world – our thoughts, our beliefs, our biases, our lives.
The play was a reminder of how things once were, yet a preface to how things are or might be again. We must never let this sort of thing happen again, but if our children don’t know about our past, how will they ever be able to build a future?
Otto Frank returned to the house in Amsterdam and was given the diary Anne wrote. He was overwhelmed by the complexity of his daughter’s thinking and the depth of her pain during this time. He had the diary published so the world would never forget.
As I think of our youngsters today, here in America, they’ve never really experienced the perils and destruction of war. They, in fact, are facing another kind of war in their young lives – where schools must be locked down – where those with mental illness are not being treated properly – where hate is spewed on phones and computers. I guess every generation has its own set of struggles, but we must never ever forget the Holocaust, as gruesome and terrible as it was.
In our remembrance, let us also keep hope alive, as Anne did. Our world is transforming into something I no longer recognize, but I do believe that God has a plan even in our darkest times. He never changes – even though humanity does.
“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 shall end, that peace and tranquility will return once more.” Anne Frank