"..I hope I will be able to confide everything to you ..as I have never been able to confide in anyone ..and I hope you will be a great source of comfort and support." Anne Frank.
I have been searching for the appropriate words to lend them toward some form of comprehension, not only for what happened to 6,000,000 Jews of Europe but for what we allowed to become Their Holocaust. I want to write a piece too on my relationship with the words of Anne 'Annalies Marie' Frank. For me, and because Anne is so well known, I will write more about the loss of Anne Frank to her Family and to us all than perhaps a more obvious narrative on her life in our times. To that end I will add to my recent travels to the x6 Death Camps in Poland, established by Hitler for the Destruction of all of European Jewry. From amongst Belzec, Chelmno, Majdanek, Sobibor, Treblinka and Auschwitz Birkenau, this final industrial scale murder facility, will house Anne Frank and Family and the other occupants of The Secret Annexe.
For a time, all remained to survive here, but a permanent place of Remembrance is reserved for both Edith Frank and Hermann van Pels. For me, between November 2nd. and November 4th. 2018 I will visit Anne Frank's last bolt hole of Survival, The Anne Frank Museum. As Anne, and her Family and Friends struggled with what was impacting upon the community of Jews of all Europe, their complete destruction, the four walls which detained them are a permanent Memorial to why hatred is wrong and why Humanity is more important than not. Today, not only does The Anne Frank House stand as a memorial to a Young Girl, who gifted us so much in learning from her of the values of the tolerances required of a generation that so cruelly abandoned them, it is for us to ensure the proper lessons are taken forward. As the hatred unfolds toward the Jews of Europe, the Jewish population of Amsterdam was approximately 80,000 as some pro Nazi Dutch welcomed Hitler's Invasion of the Netherland's, on May 10th. 1940.
"..When disaster happens slowly ..in installments ..people have a tendency to accept each installment. ..This is what happened here. So I think we cannot afford to stay silent and just hope for ..best." Rabbi Binyomin Jacobs.
The previous declaration of neutrality, as Hitler struck at Poland September 1st. 1939 could not now save the Netherlands. Hitler's orders to invade the Country, and the subsequent and devastating assault upon Rotterdam on May 13th. 1940 brought the City to its knees and was followed by the Netherlands complete capitulation the following day, May 14th.1940. With the Dutch forces in disarray, they surrendered as the government and the Dutch Royal Family fled to London, and so abandoning all responsibility for its People. The whole of Holland, the Netherlands, was still home to more than 160,000 Jews, many of these refugees from Hitler's Jewish persecution in Germany, Austria and Poland and of these 106,000 Jews would never see the end of Hitler's War.
My visit to Amsterdam, and my purpoe in visiting The Anne Frank House, was fortuitous in many ways. Across the road from the Westerkerk, this church is located to the side of the Anne Frank House, I stayed in a Hotel within earshot of the same sounds which kept Anne somewhat occupied for some of those 2 years in hiding. Here, where Anne listened to these same chimes, and looked out onto the clock face on the Westertoren I could see for myself, I could walk past it and know, Anne too had been here. From the attic of the Secret Annexe, she noted in her Diary on July 11th. 1942 and wrote:
Saturday July 11th. 1942
"..Dearest Kitty ..Father ..Mother ..Margot still can't get used to ..chiming of ..Westertoren clock ..which tells us ..time every quarter of an hour. Not me ..I liked it from ..start ..it sounds so reassuring ..especially at night. You no doubt want to hear what I think of being in hiding. Well ..all I can say is that I don't really know yet. I don't think I'll ever feel at home in this house ..but that doesn't mean I hate it. It's more like being on vacation in some strange pension. Kind of an odd way to look at life in hiding ..but that's how things are. ..Annex is an ideal place to hide in. It may be damp and lopsided ..but there's probably not a more comfortable hiding place in all of Amsterdam. No ..in all of Holland. ..building on our right is a branch of ..Keg Company ..a firm from Zaandam ..and on ..left ..a furniture workshop. Though ..people who work there are not on ..premises after hours ..any sound we make might travel through ..walls. Someone's calling me. Yours." Anne.
Here too, alongside the spices Otto had imported were the Furniture and Keg makers plying their trades. Also, and from amongst these craftsmen are some of the 30 or so Diamond Exchange Centers that had existed for the World of Diamonds. Within Amsterdam, which was the oldest Exchange Centre for the trade in Diamonds right up until Hitler's intervention into the Netherlands, much of this particular trade has now been lost. Clearly, and due to the pertinent fact that most of the Diamond industry was conducted by Jewish workers, cutters and traders, the Jewish decimation in The Holocaust signalled, not only their loss of life, but was as significantly marked as it ensured their trading presence fell into such a sharp decline. Such loss though, still managed to secure for Hitler's coffers, a vast enrichment with the confiscation of all Diamonds.
Not just these, but their material worth in land, assets, monies and all gains from all and any Jewish enterprise encountered was to be confiscated. It is ironic though, that when you stand in a space the size of an average room and try and imagine how these 8 Jewish People could live, cramped up for nearly two years, there is no sense of how it was possible to be gained. However, from July 6th. 1942 until August 4th. 1944, Anne Frank, her Sister Margot Frank, Parents Edith Frank and Otto Frank and Auguste van Pels, Hermann van Pels, Peter van Pels and Fritz Pfeffer, all cohabited a space less fit for a Family of 4. Such is that space it is hard to imagine such a Family's trouble with the limited accomodation, let alone the tighter control exacted with an intrusion of 4 other hidden Jews. But Human kindness found its way into the darkest of difficult times and Otto's express wish to help, assist and cooperate with these 4 others, is a marvel of compassion.
Monday November 2nd. 1942
"..Dear Kitty ..Bep stayed with us Friday evening. It was fun ..but she didn't sleep very well because she'd drunk some wine. For ..rest ..there's nothing special to report. I had an awful headache yesterday and went to bed early. Margot's being exasperating again. This morning I began sorting out an index card file from ..office ..because it'd fallen over and gotten all mixed up. Before long I was going nuts. I asked Margot and Peter to help ..but they were too lazy ..so I put it away. I'm not crazy enough to do it all by myself." Anne Frank.
There are modest comic touches in what Anne can deliver and with Anne's deprecation of her own impatience, we can begin to see such a warm and gentle soul emerging. What with her mixing with the excesses of survival's greatest trick, managing to stay alert and not go nuts, Anne is somewhat gifted with an ability to make things seem somehow ordinary. It must never be forgotten though, tht in these x2 years of incarceration, nothing can be remotely declared as being in the slightest bit ordinary. Even the light through the windows hid a route in whch gave a spy or a collaborastor could catch a glimpse of another world hidden away from Hitler's express wish to harm all those inside. You stand in those closed in spaces and you cannot begin to visualise what was being enacted as tempers freyed and arguments aired themselves.
Thursday March 25th. 1943
"..Dearest Kitty ..Mother ..Father ..Margot and I were sitting quite pleasantly together last night when Peter suddenly came in and whispered in Father's ear. I caught ..words ..a barrel falling over in ..warehouse ..and ..someone fiddling with ..door. ..Margot heard it too ..but was trying to calm me down ..since I'd turned white as chalk and was extremely nervous. ..three of us waited while Father and Peter went downstairs. ..Once again we waited and waited ..but heard nothing. Finally we came to ..conclusion ..burglars had taken to their heels when they heard footsteps in an otherwise quiet building. ..problem now was ..chairs in ..private office ..were neatly grouped around ..radio ..tuned to England. If ..burglars had forced ..door and ..air raid wardens were to notice it and call ..police ..there could be very serious repercussions. ..Incidents like these are always accompanied by other disasters ..and this was no exception. ..Westertoren bells stopped chiming ..and I'd always found them so comforting. ..night had just begun ..we still weren't sure what to expect. ..somewhat reassured by ..fact ..between 8:15 when ..burglar had first entered ..building ..put our lives in jeopardy ..and 10:30 ..we hadn't heard a sound. ..more we thought about it ..less likely it seemed that a burglar would have forced a door so early in ..evening ..when there were still people out on ..streets. Besides ..it occurred to us that ..warehouse manager at ..Keg Company ..might still have been at work. What with ..excitement and ..thin walls ..it's easy to mistake ..sounds. ..your imagination often plays tricks on you in moments of danger. So we went to bed ..though not to sleep. Father ..Mother ..Mr. Dussel were awake most of ..night ..and I'm not exaggerating when I say that I hardly got a wink of sleep. Yours." Anne.
It goes without saying that the tension during the entire period would be even more heightened from time to time. Anne is often forthright in what she sees as near misses, as those misconceptions over what was happeneing outside came to haunt their innermost and hidden thoughts. Imagination is a great source of trickery to the minds eye which sees all manner of ailments in nothing more than a creaking floor or the wind through a crease in a roof tile. I am mindful of the renovation work that has been done to confer Museum status upon this Secret Annexe. But for me as I attempt to place Anne and the other's, either pacing the rooms or sitting still a panic looms again, I can still relate the sounds to previous endeavours for them to ignore their benign presence within their still cramped space.
Tuesday August 10th. 1943
"..Dearest Kitty ..We've all been a little confused this past week because our dearly beloved Westertoren bells have been carted off to be melted down for ..war ..so we have no ..idea of ..exact time ..either night or day. I still have hopes that they'll come up with a substitute ..made of tin or copper or some such thing ..to remind ..neighborhood of ..clock. ..Yours ..Anne." Anne Frank.
The chiming then of the carillon, the tuned bells in the Westertoren, the actual tower itself of this Westerkerk, was such a comfort for Anne. For me, and as I listened intently too, as I sought to imagine its delivery of a peace and soothing rendition to not just Anne, but perhaps to other's who might have been appraised on the passage of time and the nearness of liberation, I was in the pages of Anne's Diary recalling her exact words. However, for Anne, this source of comfort mocked an almost futile attempt by so many Jews to evade their own capture. For the sanctuary status of these church's, whether protestant or catholic as a whole, they mnaged not to share any greater indignation than what was demanded of a compassionate nor christian ethos. It is difficult for those whose own upbringing tught them the meaning of such compassion to know, it did not avail itself for those Jews, 106,000 of whom would be lost to the Netherlands in the grist mills of destruction that were Sobibor, Auschwitz and Birkenau.
Wednesday November 3rd. 1943
"..Dearest Kitty ..To take our minds off matters as well as to develop them ..Father ordered a catalog from a correspondence school. ..We've decided that from now on ..stove is going to be lit at 7:30 on Sunday mornings instead of 5:30. I think it's risky. What will ..neighbors think of our smoking chimney. ..same with ..curtains. Ever since we first went into hiding ..they've been tacked firmly to ..windows. ..That's how every act of carelessness begins and ends. No one will notice ..no one will hear ..no one will pay ..least bit of attention. Yours." Anne.
We tend to forget at times the very simple detail of cautious awareness that can seem largely exagerated at times. But, be it a lit stove, or a curtain that flickers open to deliver a brief glimpse of the hidden world behind it, would make the tension that could so grind the soul. As we stand here, almost privileged to immerse ourselves in their struggle for life, which was roundly to be denied 8 Jews here and from the entirety of World Jewry, none too many from the statistical analysis which Hitler had his charges undertake, would survive. We too have become aware that Otto was amongst these few, as he was the only one to Survive the secret of the annexe. Anne and the others shared the fate of some 6,000,000 other Jews, plundered from their homes and divested of life in a murder apparatus that sprung into aktionen on a continental scale.
Monday February 28th. 1944
"..My dearest Kitty ..It's like a nightmare, one that goes on long after I'm awake. .. In ..distance a clock was tolling. ..I'm sentimental ..I know. I'm despondent and foolish ..I know that too. Oh ..help me. Yours." Anne M. Frank.
We can so easily immerse ourselves, and so deeply engage in the tragedy for these Jews of The Holocaust, that we can still too easily forget their human tragedy. We can Never be immune to the effect of the overwhelming tragedy which swept 6,000,000 People toward oblivion, simply because they were Jews. For all my research, I am always prepared for what is next, and visits to the 6 Death Camps tested me as they required a knowledge of what lies beneath their surface, was literally countless 1,000,000's of Murdered Jewish People. So here I am in Amsterdam, and I was sat in my Hotel room and I could hear the peel of church bells. It was a simple sound but that it was from other than from the Westertoten itslef, it struck me. I wondered if I too was listening to that same clock toll its times and the sound from a clock which must have reminded Anne that life continues outside her hiding place, marks a reflective impression.
Friday March 10th. 1944
"..My dearest Kitty .. proverb ..Misfortunes never come singly ..definitely applies to today. ..Let me tell you ..awful things that have happened and ..are still hanging over our heads. ..Miep is sick. ..She caught cold in ..Westerkerk. ..police have arrested a man ..whose name I won't put in writing. It's terrible not only for him ..but for us as well ..since he's been supplying us with potatoes ..butter ..jam. Mr. M. ..has 5 children under ..13 ..another on ..way. Last night we had another ..scare ..in ..middle of dinner ..someone knocked on ..wall next door. For ..rest of ..evening we were nervous and gloomy. Yours." Anne M. Frank.
I could stand upon the balcony which faced the Westerkerk and I could clearly see that alongside this church there now stood the Anne Frank Museum. It appears as though a shield has been thrown around the old building, and surely these are purely there to stem the effects of weather degradation. But that defensive shroud, as we reflect back to Friday August 4th. 1944, where there is another day of fear is to torn from securing the safety of those soon to be exposed. Still, there is an expectation and there is a continued hope for those of the Annexe as another day beckons the future. However, at 10:30 am, the SD led by SS Hauptscharfuhrer Karl Josef Silberbauer, of the SS secret police, the Sicherheitsdienst, arrive at the factory. They are fully armed so as to ensure the peaceable arrest of those Jews they have been informed are hidden and they have come to collect.
As these Nazi's seek the attention of those they now are aware have been secretly hiding Anne and the other Jews of the Annexe, an emotional fear braces these helpers. Making their way forward, up the stairs and finding that the Annexe is secreted behind the bookcase. Behind that bookcase, which now lays open, there is a step which leads to a white door and beyond this, Otto Frank, Edith Frank, Margot Frank, Anne Frank, Hermann van Pels, Auguste van Pels, Peter van Pels and Fritz Pfeffer are taken by surprise. As their secret has been uncovered all manner of fear and terror must have confronted them. Here in microcosym, the fate of so many is played out and even after 2 years of hiding, there was always the hope of safety and the fear of being exposed. That exposition came abruptly and the wheels of a final resolve would be brought to bear and 7 more Jews would add to the Catastrophe weighted so heavily against them.
"..It did not end with ..betrayal ..I believe that my father blackmailed Otto Frank." Anton Ahlers.
The tragedy for Dutch Jewry is exemplified here in terrifying exactness and in cold relief we are witness to the mounting tragedy which had engulfed European Jewry over the past 4 years in the Netherlands. Though the entire tragedy for Dutch Jewry is under exposed, it is equally less disclosed than it should be. While history has not forgotten what many Dutch people did for their Jewish Community, we must remember the sheer enormity of the assault upon Jewish existence here in the Netherlands. While strikes were held and protests made, and when it became a struggle over life or death, many like the 4 main helpers of the Secret Annexe, acted with courage, compassion and a moral probity that was ethically firm.
Here, and if we take as an example the case of Anne Frank, we know full well the tragedy for those 8 of the secret Annexe. Though Otto Frank Survived to remind us of the struggle that they has all fought to Survive, Otto's soul was destroyed by an incalculable loss. What brought the end to the captive security from within the Secret Annexe cannot now be answered by the man who so betrayed them, Tonny Ahlers. However, as with all collaboration, and also with the opposite response from those, in saving Jews from Hitler, it would not only be the Jews alone who would be penalised for both any collaborative effort on behalf of those who might betray the Jewish People and more certainly for those who showed their humanity was shown.
"..All 4 immediately agreed ..though they were fully aware of ..dangerous task they would be taking upon themselves them in doing so. By Nazi law everyone helping Jews was severely punished and risked being put into prison ..being deported or ..shot." Otto Frank.
For Miep Gies, Johannes Kleiman, Victor Kugler and Bep Voskuijl the ramifications for their shared humanity were enormous. As for Jan Gies, Miep's Husband and for Jan Voskuijl, Bep's Father, their assistance came with the same level of deadly threat. The fall out for any of these could have so easily been extended to every branch of all of these Familily's. In truth, no one knew exactly where the sword would fall for the correctness of an attempt to save human beings from persecution, prosecution and destruction. How could these saviours of human dignity know their own fate. How could the fate of so many helpers of Jews, and throughout these Netherlands be considered other than fluid. With Hitler hell bent upon the destruction of all of Jewry, and by 1944 that resolve was clearly known to all who chose to see, hear and witness its reality.
"..Never have they uttered a single word about ..burden we must be ..never have they complained that we were too much trouble. They come upstairs every day and talk to ..Men about business and politics ..to ..Women about food and wartime difficulties and to ..Children about books and newspapers." Anne Frank.
Wherever the drive for The Final Solution raged, and for all those who acted with similar compassion for Friends, Neighbours or complete strangers, their fate would be inextricably weighted against them, and alongside the Annihilation awaiting All Jews. By now, SS Hauptcharfuhrer Silbebauer has called for a truck to deliver the 8, former Jewish residents of the Secret Annexe to Gestapo headquarters at Euterpestraat. Within minutes all 8 of these hidden Jews were out on the Street in the full glare of day and seeing their first sign of outside daylight in over 2 years. Gestapo headquarters at Euterpestraat was a brief sojourn for the 8 before their removal to the prison on Weteringschans the following Morning, Saturday August 5th. 1944. Then, on Tuesday August 8th. 1944 they were all again moved toward Amsterdam's Central Station
"..Frank girls looked terrible ..their hands and bodies covered with spots and sores from ..scabies. ..They were in a very bad way ..pitiful ..that’s how I thought of them." Ronnie Goldstein van Cleef.
From the train Station, and along with 72 other's, they were embarked on the next stage of the journey, this time to the Westerbork Concentration Camp. Westerbork detention camp, and hut 67 now awaited them and this too was merely a prelude from harm. Along that road toward their total degradation this transport hub for so many Jews being sent toward the East was a focal point from where where both Sobibor and Auschwitz awaited the Jews of the Netherlands. The transport which took Anne and her fellow Annexe survivors was amongst the last Dutch transports to leave toward Auschwitz. Indeed, their own transport on September 3rd. 1944 was the final transport of some 83 such resettlement transports which took 106,000 Dutch Jews toward extinction. This final transport however, was still specifically a death train, even as Russian pressure along the entire front was now fast approaching Auschwitz itself.
"..They had little squabbles ..caused by their illness, because it was clear they had typhus. " Rachel van Amerongen Frankfoorder.
Along the route of these journeys, in the Camps that came to recognise Anne and Margot's presence, there would be Janny Brandes Brilleslijper, Lenie de Jong van Naarden, Bloeme Evers Emden, Ronnie Goldstein van Cleef, Hannah Goslar, Nanette Konig and Rachel van Amerongen Frankfoorder who would recall them. Here, and these were amongst many Jews from all over Europe who touched upon Anne and Margot's fight for Survival, little knowing the impact Anne would have upon the World. Those who recalled Anne, Margot and even Edith would be forced to come to terms with what was known at the time and what will be then become known as The Holocaust. Separately, these individuals had met both Anne and Margot, either in both the transit Camp at Westerbork or then into Birkenau.
"..When ..Anne was in hiding ..her Mother was someone against whom she rebelled. ..in ..camp ..all of that actually completely fell away. By giving each other mutual support ..they were able to keep each other alive ..although no one can fight typhus." Bloeme Evers-Emden.
Their arrival at Auschwitz was on the Night of September 5th. and 6th. 1944 and upon their arrival at Camp of Auschwitz, they were sent forward toward Birkenau. Having been sealed into a cattle car for some 48 hours, they were amongst 1,019 Jews on this SD Transport. Amongst them, 498 Jewish Men, 442 Jewish Women and 79 Jewish Children, a selection was made. Of these 258 Jewish Men were selected for a momentary reprieve as were 212 Jewish Women, selective to service the demands of the SS overseers. However, for all of these other 549 Jews from this transport, these Jewish People are immediately gassed. There was the hand of fate playing here and all the Annexed 8 managed to survive this immediate selection. It is now known to History what happened and when, though not strictly in any sense of an exacting date for the final many for many of them.
There is no particualr resting place for them all as can be stressed for the 6,000,000 Jews, who are The Holocaust. Finally though, Birkenau expelled Anne and Margot and enroute toward Belsen, they heaed toward the space where both Anne and Margot did not Survive. Many other's travelled along the same route and some of these remained to recollect their memory of them both. In a mixture of the Camps that both Anne and Margot were in, they touched other's. For the 8 of the Secret Annexe, their story is a well worn narrative. For Otto Frank, who was born on May 12th. 1889, much of his story will be told through the narrative account of his future Wife Edith Holland Frank and their two Daughter's Margot and of course Anne. Some time between July and August 1933 Otto Frank goes to Holland to establish a new business.
On September 15th. 1933 Otto sets up his Opekta import business in Amsterdam and what history makes us aware of is, that Otto is secretly extricating himself and his Family from Hitler's Nazi control. The vitriol of hatred has spread from the rhetoric of hate to the commital of hatred. The vile and vicious nature of that hatred is being applied thoroughly and throughout his beloved Germany. While Edith, Margot and Anne stay behind in Aachen, Otto is concerned enough about the swell of anti-Jewish feeling, that he ventures forth alone. Soon after, and during November 1933 Edith joins her Husband while Margot follows in December. Anne remains behind until February 16th. 1934 and once again they are a united Family together. This is in a way a Birthday surprise for Anne's big Sister Margot.
The success of Otto's gambit is witnessed by which the Frank Family manage integrate into Dutch Society. But that ease of situation is not a permanent one when Hitler's forces cross into the Netherlands, May 14th. 1940. History is now entwined in the passages of a Book that has yet to be written. As we move firmly toward betrayal and the savagery that is to be witnessed by all Jews who enter places like Auschwitz and Birkenau, that detail is to be experienced by in excess of 4,000,000 Jews of Europe. Skipping forward, Otto Frank was admitted to the Auschwitz Death Camp, Birkenau and received his tatooed number B-9174. What that experience amounted to is the subject of Otto's own life tale. His progress toward safety is not easily made and the fretful duration brings him to the realisation of what he has lost and a realignment with whjat remains for him.
The day of liberation, what is recalled as Holocaust Remembrance day, January 27th. 1945 sees Otto free to make his journey home. He would make it firstly toward to Odessa en-route toward finding out all that he had ever loved had been taken away from him. What Otto was finally forced to acknowledge came in a letter he wrote on July 7th. 1945 and a snippet of that sentiment struck me as I read it on the Wall in the Anne Frank Huis. Having studied The Holocaust for so long now, I realised I was never going to remain immune from what intrinsically touches one's inner being, the loss to Humanity of these 6,000,000 Human Beings. To see in such cold relief the astonishing level of hatred that consumed these People, and simply because of their Jewish antecedence. This all stands in marked contrast to the reality that faced all the Jews of Europe threatened by Hitler and it is a margin which runs between fear and hope.
"..I have to accept ..fact of Edith's death ..but I keep hoping I can find my Children. That is what I am living for at ..moment. I gravitate between hope and fear." Otto Frank.
Edith (Hollander) Frank was born on January 16th. 1900 and in between her early life and coming to prominence in the story of a Young Girl's hope's and aspirations, this Mother is born. Edith had a typical upbringing and schooling, though a Christian Girl's School does appear somewhat at odds and apart from what enmeshed the Jewish People in a wholly unchristian context. On May 12th. however life has its up and in 1925 Edith Hollander marries Otto Frank and now comes to our attention as the narrative of this story finally emerges. I think it is with a huge level of sadness that what Otto finally discovers in the pages of Anne's Diary will be the common theme of a Young Girl emerging from the shadow of a Mother who gave rise to her prominence.
"..I was concerned ..there was not a particularly good understanding between my Wife and Anne ..and I believe my Wife suffered more from this than Anne. In reality ..she was an excellent mother ..who went to any lengths for her children. She often complained that Anne was against everything she did but it was consolation for her to know that Anne trusted me." Otto Frank.
Edith is often so much a a hidden character in what we learn from Anne but she is a constant in all the lives of the Frank's and those who came to seek a shelter from the impending storm. Edith managed to Survive until weeks, or even days before the final liberation of Auschwitz on January 27th. 1945, even though liberation was not the full saving grace for so many totally debilitated Survivors. For Edith, the certainty was to be a cold reality which faced all too many and yet, it was always an opportunity to know you had Survived Hitler's intentions for those gifted to do so. It is somewhat ironic that in conversation with Miep Gies Edith confided in her that she shielded her entire Family and the other hidden of the Annexe of her fears for their future.
"..What she needed to talk about ..which she couldn’t talk about in front of ..others ..was that she was suffering under a great weight of despair. Although ..others were counting ..days until ..Allies came ..Mrs. Frank confessed that she was deeply ashamed of ..fact that she felt ..end would never come." Miep Gies.
It has to be imagined, that in that hidden 2 year period, hope was beginning to slip away from all of those couped up in such a small space, and Edith was no exception. It is evidently clear though, Edith never gave way to any such negative feelings of open despair. Though Edith must have been sharply in contradiction with herself as the hopeful expression given over to succeeding, survivng and staying alive did not betray her inner fear. Toward the latter part of her life, as Stalin's forces relentlessly advanced and reached into the heart of Poland, Edith was drawing close to her last moments. It was abundantly clear to a World at War, and by the end of September 1944 it was more apparent than ever that Hitler's grasping hold on a greater Reich was being gradually diminished, beaten and then crushed.
However, this did not preclude further transports reaching Auschwitz for Birkenau and they dutifully arrived from Budapest, Lodz, Pruszkow, these remnants of the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising, Slovenia, Vienna and of course the Westerbork Transport which had brought the detainees from the Secret Annexe. Then, during October 1944 from amongst many of the camp’s 39,000 women prisoners, both Margot and Anne were entrained for Belsen. From here on in, and while it is without certainty exactly when, Edith Frank finally succumbed sometime on January 6th. 1945 to the grief over the obvious loss of her Children Margot and Anne and to a place that was to remain unknown to her. I have no doubt too that Edith was further impacted by the very debilitating and catastrophic effects of exhaustion and starvation that was the mainstay for those Jews held over temporsrily from the immediate intention to Murder them all.
"..Edith died ..in bed ..next to me." Rosa de Winter-Levy.
Edith had been compelled to allow both Margot and Anne to leave Birkenau and her broken heart fixed Edith to that space within Birkenau. As another Dutch Jew, who knew the Frank Women, Young and Older at Auschwitz, a little more light is shone on a very dark chapter in Jewish existence and the Frnk's persistence. When the Sisters were confined to the scabies barrack, Lenie de Jong van Naarden helped Edith Frank dig a hole under the structure of the barrack so as to smuggle bread to her daughters. The ingenuity of captives, even within the Death Camp system, was remarkably adaptive to the prevailing stench of destruction which surrounded them. Life, marginally above the level of what existed for those who were consumed with the gas chambers, served to remind all Jews, their fate was sealed.
"..In ..barracks where ..Frank girls were ..Women went crazy ..completely crazy. ..There were people who threw themselves against ..electric fence. ..To work it out completely alone ..that didn’t work ..even very strong women broke down." Lenie de Jong van Naarden.
Margot Frank, was born on February 16th. 1926 and is schooled early on in her life, in Germany and then in Amsterdam. After Otto feels certain that all their lives are at risk, Schooling in Germany becomes a deeply negative concept. Laws were passed which would place all Jews outside the remit for education, outside the remit for life within Germany and finally, outside the essential to life itself for them. For any Child growing amidst the terrifying spectacle of outright hatred for them, because they were Jews, I cannot even begin to inform you here of what that must have been like. How Children must have felt or bre the scars of such intolerances toward them or indeed how Parents could recover their Children from the very trauma they faced on a daily basis and simply for being Jews, so escapes me it shocks my core.
"..Margot is very kind and would like me to confide in her ..but I can't tell her everything. She takes me too seriously ..far too seriously ..and spends a lot of time thinking about her loony Sister ..looking at me closely whenever I open my mouth and wondering ..is she acting ..or does she really mean it." Anne Frank.
The pace of Margot's life is ground to a stalled halt as on July 5th. 1942, Margot herself receives her summons. This letter from the Gestapo, for Margot to report to a work camp somewhere in Germany stuns a frightened Family. This clearly alerts Otto once again to the grave danger for them and they set upon a course that is about to move them out of harms way. It is important to reflect her that all through their lives, Margot was with her Sister and in these formative years, it all proves pivotal in their growth as Sister's, as Friends at the best and worst of times and always totally reliant upon each other. Through the dark days of the Annexe in hiding and then discovery, through arrest, incarceration, imprisonment and then on to the Westerbork Concentration Camp, Margot and Anne were connected, rooted to each other. Together they then resisted the struggle to simply die in the Birkenau Death Camp.
"..Typhus was ..hallmark of ..Belsen ..Anne and Margot had those hollowed out faces ..skin over bone. They were terribly cold. They had ..least desirable places in ..barracks ..below ..near ..door ..which was constantly opened and closed. You could really see both of them dying." Rachel van Amerongen Frankfoorder.
Even before Margor or Anne could be liberated by the approaching Russian forces, both she and Anne were removed toward Belsen. Here, in this holding Camp, where the utter chaos of death had replaced the organised structure of destruction was also to become an antechamber to that hell which had always been Auschwitz and more certainly Birkenau. In Belsen, Margot was the first to die, and she succumbed to the brutality of an intolerance heavily weighted against her. At sometime during February 1945, and this is contested and uncertain, Margot dies of the effects of typhus. Also, and hile her Sister Anne died days later, their close proximity to each other within the confines of Belsen holds them bonded together more closely and by more than their Jewish nature which had condemned them both to this end.
"..Margot had fallen out of bed onto ..stone floor ..she couldn’t get up anymore. Anne died a day later. 3 days before her death from typhus was when Anne had thrown away all of her clothes during dreadful hallucinations. That happened just before ..liberation." Janny Brandes Brilleslijper.
Annalies Marie Frank, better known to the World of Humanity as Anne Frank, was born on June 12th. 1929. The very detail of Anne's life is well written and documented into the very fabric of what The Holocaust means for 6,000,000 Murdered Jews. That is true also for the Jewish People in general and for Humanity in particular. For Anne Frank, who was with her Sister Margot to the very end and for whom both had resisted the struggle to die in the Birkenau Death Camp, life would be now measured by the struggle to live. After just a few weeks, within that deeply disturbing struggle to survive what Birkenau threw at them, both Anne and Margot contracted scabies.
This ailment, which was so rampant amongst these debilitated human beings so low in their immunity to disease, took hold of those who had little resources to fight them off. These skin mites tore at the human defence mechanism like no other and further brought the disintegration of so many survivng, ever closer toward extinction. It is a calamity for anyone to have to speak in such terms about Human beings, for them being so on the brink of annihilation and to being so ravaged by their situation that they disintgrated externally as they disappeared internally. But this was the reality for 6,000,000 Jews of Europe, whose course had wound them toward such an ignominy and insistence upon their destruction. Of course so many other's suffered a similar fate, but it has never been decidedly confirmed so systematically, as Hitler had placed for the Jews as on the Final Solution of the Jewish People.
"..I saw Anne walking on ..other side of some barbed wire. I couldn't go near it .though ..I would have been tortured or killed. ..later ..able to talk. ..She was depleted ..wrapped in blankets because her clothes were full of lice. ..It was from Anne that I learnt what was happening in Auschwitz." Nanette Konig.
Within the scabies barrack, both Margot and Anne were alone, no longer sheltered from the storm by the closeness of Family. Though Edith somehow managed and made efforts to ensure they were as cared for as was humanly possible, it is an unbearable reality for all Jews confined within the sphere of the intention to destroy them, that Family ties were merely a momentry interlude in what was always Hitler's intention for them all. Somehow both Margot and Anne survived, but only until they were forced elsewhere, and Belsen will find them both consigned to the fate Hitler had assigned them. Here in Belsen, Margot was the first to die of the effects of typhus while Anne died later both uncertain as to the fate of the other it has to be assumed and both almost certainly unsure as to the fate of both of their Parents, Edith and Otto.
"..We did our best to help them. ..Not only Anne and Margot ..but also ..other girls we knew went regularly to provide them with a little balance and sometimes a little culture." Janny Brandes Brilleslijper.
Some testimony's give the specific date for Anne's death as March 31st. 1945, but certainty cannot be given over to this as clarity is hardly the prevailing recollections for those who struck a deal with death so as to gain life. Clearly though, both Anne and Margot were to be remembered by some of those who touched them and were even touched by their prevailing strength in having survived for so long. Many survivors too speak of both Sister's as they too followed them through the struggle for life in the Camps of Westerbork and Auschwitz and even into the jaws of the destructive capacity that was the Death Camp Birkenau and then onto the camp of death that was Belsen. It is essential to ensure memory does not diffuse the differences with the similarity's that met those Jews who did not emerge from the system of Camps, Hitler established.
"..Anne was very calm and quiet and somewhat withdrawn ..and often stood next to me at appell and Margot was close by. ..fact that they had ended up there had affected Anne profoundly ..that was obvious." Ronnie Goldstein-van Cleef.
There were a total of x6 Death Camps, established by Hitler within Poland and these were solely designed for the purpose of the annihilation of those Jews assigned to them. That other than Jew's died in those Death Camps is certain. That Jews did and were Murdered in every Camp that Hitler established, also within Poland but elsewhere throughout Europe, camps designed to wholly contain them, does not make of them Death Camps. Even though Jewish death was a product of the camps existence, the systematic, mechanised and industrial scale of the murder process was attributable only to those x6 Death Camps in Poland, namely, Auschwitz and Birkenau, Belzec, Chelmno, Majdanek, Sobibor and Treblinka. Here, in excess of 4,000,000 Jews of Europe were consumed and if the full facts were reexamined and detailed, far in excess of this number of Jewish Murdered would be applied to History.
"..Anne thought that her parents were dead. I have always thought that if Anne had known that her father was still alive ..she would have found .. strength to go on living." Hannah Goslar.
It is impossible to speculate over the inner feelings of another Person without a direct insight into their being. But I can assume so much given Anne's telling ways and words which marked her as an extraordinary individual. To borrow from another Survivor, Halina Birenbaum who wrote, Hope is The Last to Die, and as that hope springs eternal, we know the grasp of hope can be the mainstay of that very hold onto life. For Anne, knowledge of the fate of her Father Otto in particular, and the sure need of a Mom who had always nurtured her forthrightness, would have given her a little more comfort and perhaps even a stronger will to fight back from the brink of death. But we know from history that none of this gave Anne, nor Margot, nor indeed the 6,000,000 Jews who perished, a hope that would not die.
It would appear that, as Anne would spend her time speaking, tutoring and even engaging in the distraction of the Children, life managed to hold a notion of hope could be obtained. For entertaining the Children as Anne and Margot went along, life here is so far from human expectation, it is troubling to even consider this as life. It appears too that both Margot and Anne made deeply human connections with those they came into contact with. Even here in Belsen, where life both transitory and an illusion, if we are then to be convinced either or both Margot or Anne believed that their Parents were dead, was hope also dead. Life along that margin is still recalled by those touched by them and it effects for us a sense that while there was a will to maintain some grasp on life, the reality was always markedly different and prone to the whims of brutal and unrestrained progression toward certin death.
"..At a certain moment in her final days ..Anne stood in front of me. ..She didn’t have any more tears ..and she told me that she had such a horror of ..lice and fleas in her clothes ..that she had thrown all of her clothes away. It was ..middle of winter and she was wrapped in one blanket. I gathered up everything I could find to give her so that she was dressed again." Janny Brandes Brilleslijper.
Hermann van Pels was born on March 31st. 1898 and would not Survive the rigorous process at Auschwitz. In these coming days, while the other 7 managed to fix a space for themselves in this life outside life, age and strength played a heavy hand. Herman van Pels suffered a hand injury which prevented him from working toward the Nazi goal. With relentless finality, and on October 3rd. 1944, Hermann van Pels was selected for destruction and was gassed and cremated in the complex of Birkenau on November 26th. 1944.
Auguste van Pels, who was born on September 9th. 1900 and having survived for these both the Annexe, Westerboprk and even Auschwitz and Birkenau, was sent to the Belsen Concentration Camp in northern Germany and lasted 2 months in that particular hell. She was amongst a group of 8 other Jewish Women who embarked upon the journey toward Belsen. On February 6th. 1945, Auguste van Pels was further deported to the Raguhn subcamp of Buchenwald, and she died somewhere in Germany or Czechoslovakia, between April 9th and May 8th 1945. It is clear though, that while being once more deported, and to the Ghetto Camp at Theresienstadt, the guards detailed to escort this transport threw Auguste van Pels in front of that transport train and she was killed instantly.
Peter van Pels was born on November 8th. 1926 and journeyed though our times and from the Secret Annex toward Westerbork and onto Auschwitz and Birkenau. From Birkenau Peter van Pels was sent on a Death March and away from Auschwitz. Peter arrived days later at the Mauthausen Concentration Camp on January 25th. 1945. Peter van Pels died at the Mauthausen Camp on May 10th.1945.
Fritz Pfeffer was born on April 30th. 1989 and he too came to our recollectioin as he was brought to the safety of the Secret Annexe. For x2 years that safety seemed assured but eventually discovered he too wound his way toward Westerbork. From here to Auschwitz and Birkenau where he has to leave Birkenau sometime in October 1944. The Nazis send him to the Neuengamme Concentration Camp near Hamburg in Northern Germany. Here, all manner of prisoner are forced into labour, the heavy work debilitating, starving and crushing their spirit. As was the status in all Camps of Hitler's demands, rations were so scarce, very little food was made available for the detainees to eat. Fritz Pfeffer finally succumbs to the pressures and ill, time marks him and he died on December 20th. 1944.
This brings me up to today and my recent visit to the Anne Frank House. Study has always taught me that the unexpected can creep up and surprise, regardless of the years of research which supposedly should prepare you for all eventualities. I was never ever prepared for the depth of emotion which swept over me as I surveyed the devastating places that had been formerly, The Death Camps. I knew full well here though that the misfortunes never came singly, and The Secret Annexe, where all 8 hidden are a testimony to that truth. In a 2 year time span Anne Frank, her Family and 4 others in hiding would be eventually removed to face Hitler's resolve to Murder them all. What I did not suspect, which would mitigate my own attempts to be prepared for what might confront me was a simple quote from Otto Frank.
Otto, the only Survivor of the 8 mmembers from the Secret Annexe, knowing already that his Wife had been Murdered, but was still hoping that both his Children, Margor and Anne would return. How could he know then what I know now that they wouldn't and We all know that both Anne and Margot died in Belsen. It was deeply sad, knowing full well what Otto had completely hoped for and we, with history behind us, are all too aware of their fate. The tragedy is well known the World over but on June 21st. 1945, for a momentary light to have flashged through the darkest despair for a Husband and a Father, it has long since been dimmed by the reality of the factual truth, that all 3, Edith, Margot and Anne had died an intolerable death.
"..I just can't think how I would go on without ..Children having lost Edith already. ..It's too upsetting for me to write about them. Naturally I still hope." Otto Frank.
Here, what Otto Frank hopes for, we know History has delivered us to the cruelest of news, and it is an enshrined fact that Edith, Margot and Anne have died and I am staring at words on a wall which offer a hope we know are dashed. They had all been consigned to a fate outside what Humanity considers compassionate. Anne and Margot's Mother, Edith Frank had perished in Auschwitz, this other Annexe to Jewish existence and though severely malnourished and debilitated, Anne and Margot were forced toward Belsen, another camp which was undignified in its worst excesses toward those Jews and other's forced to remain there. It is for posterity that we bear these facts and know why reason must ensure that these lessons are learned and are taught well and that they are respected and are fully comprehended.
"..I bought ..little book last week ..to see if I was mentioned there ..I saw that I was not." Karl Josef Silberbauer.
Here, what Silberbauer stated in 1963 is typical of the selfish importance he placed above the lack of compassion or humanity he clearly had shown. For the 8 innocent Jewish People he set along the road toward annihilation, history will judge him accusingly. His personal concern goes way beyond that too for the Writer of this 'LITTLE BOOK' whose energy surpasses his wasted insignificance. Here, and while not even realising that he could have completely denied the entire World the gift of the Book. The Diary, which has given hope to so many, leaves his charmless life behind as it ebbs into obscurity, here mentioned merely as an after thought for more concerning principles dominating human concern, compassion and toleration for all others.
"..I turned 100 years ..April ..a beautiful birthday party surrounded by my grandchildren ..great grandchildren and other family members. I even danced a little. Willard Scott mentioned my name on television. But such a time is also for reflection. I decided to overcome my long reluctance to revisit terrible times. Older people must tell their stories. With ..help of Jonathan Alter ..here’s a bit of mine. ..Hitler came to power ..and like many other Jews ..we fled to Holland. As ..Nazis closed in ..we sent one Daughter abroad with relatives and the other into hiding with my Sister and her children in ..Hague. My Husband and I could not hide so easily ..and in 1941 we were sent ..to Westerbork ..stayed about a year ..and later to ..Belsen ..from where 1,000's of innocent people were sent to Extermination Camps. There were no ovens at ..Belsen ..instead ..Nazis killed us with starvation and disease. My husband and brother both died there. I stayed for about 3 years before it was liberated ..Spring ..1945. When I went in ..I weighed more than 125 pounds. When I left ..I weighed 78 pounds." Irma Sonnenberg Menkel.
All witness testimony is essential in adding to any narrative wishing to come to terms with the facts in History. But in terms of the conduct of those who delivered 6,000,000 Jews toward Destruction, and in examining the life of any particular person within that catalogue of hatred, that essential is even more pertinent. Independent testimony is not only corroborative, it also lends an insight into the prevailing awareness of the condtitions surrounding those we seek to recall, in extremis. For Miep Gies and Jan Gies, Johannes Kleiman, Victor Kugler, Bep Voskuijl and for Jan Voskuijl, their assistance in secuing a period of safety for The Secret Annexe hidden, is enlightening as far as a Dutch will to resisist and assist is concerned. Anne Frank has infilled the blank spaces of the lives she shared with those closely involved here and these in turn extend her words to further mean what can be gained from them.
"..After I arrived at ..Belsen ..I was told I was ..barracks leader. ..I .. had no choice. ..Nazi Kommandant ..was from my home town in Germany ..studied with my uncle in Strasbourg. This coincidence probably helped save my life. ..About once every 3 weeks ..he would ask to see me. I was always afraid. It was very dangerous. Jews were often shot over nothing. After ..war ..I heard he had committed suicide." Irma Sonnenberg Menkel.
The 49 year old SS Hauptsturmfuhrer Adolf Haas was born in Hachenburg and though it is uncertain as to how he died, it is either believed he was missing in action, committed suicide or was killed elsewhere, his irreleavnce also does little to balance The Holocaust, a book of shame written in 6,000,000 titles. As a company commander of a panzier grenadier battalion, he was pitted against the rising tide of Allied advances on Hitler's Reich. As Irma has stated however, while suicide is just as likely to have been his route away from being indicted as a war criminal, it lessen's the knowledge we can gain. Given his credentials as a Kommandant at Belsen and other Nazi installations, this route out was often times the reaction of so many to being caught and made to answer for their crimes. That so many of these supposed ideologues took such a premature end, speaks of the immaturity of the system spawning them.
"..more evacuation transports arrived in ..Belsen ..more catastrophic ..situation became. ..over crowded huts ..often without any heating lacked all equipment or furnishings and people had to lie on ..bare floors. ..camp authorities deliberately refrained from easing ..situation and made no attempt to draw on ..reserves of food ..clothing ..medical supplies ..stored at ..nearby military training grounds. ..lack of water was so severe that prisoners in ..Belsen died of thirst. Others went mad with hunger and thirst. " Belsen Memorial Booklet.
With the incarcerated and the interned, with the thretened Jewish fate being an annihilatory one, the narrative is both an intimate insight and a captive one. The lesser known journey, for those of the secret annexe, and after their secret had been revealed, is no less concerning. Here too, many give voice to that search for what happened to Anne and the other's as they progressed toward and back from their own annihilation and then to their eventual destruction . Here, Janny Brandes Brilleslijper, Lenie de Jong van Naarden, Bloeme Evers Emden, Ronnie Goldstein van Cleef, Hannah Goslar, Nanette Konig and Rachel van Amerongen Frankfoorder lend us their recollections of both Anne and Margot Frank. Also, and with a short insight into what deeply affected, traumatised and eventually delivered Edith Frank into The Holocaust, we perhaps gain what Anne failed to deliver in her own testimony about her Mother.
"..There were about 500 Women and Girls in my barracks. Conditions were extremely crowded and unsanitary. No heat at all. Every morning ..up at 5 and wake ..rest. 6 ..we went to appell. ..wait there for hours ..no matter ..weather. ..we worked as slave labor in ..factory ..making bullets for German soldiers. When we left Holland ..I had taken only 2 changes of clothes ..toothbrush ..no books or other possessions. ..I had a few more clothes ..including a warm jacket ..which came from someone who died. Men ..Women lined up for hours to wash their clothes in ..few sinks. ..no showers. ..no bedding. ..day ..spent working and waiting. At 10 p.m ..lights out. ..midnight ..inspection came 3 or 4 soldiers. I had to say everything ..in good condition when ..conditions were beyond miserable. ..again at 5." Irma Sonnenberg Menkel.
We gain from those traumatically connected to the ebb and flow of life where life is permanently endangered, a cared for Mother caring for her Children, a Mother, maternal, loving and dutiful to the last. Furthermore, as the focus is and has been on Anne, we can not afford to forget the significance of those who all played a part in Anne's coming to our attention. Then, and for anyone who could so declare that as a prisoner in Belsen that 'I Saw Anne Frank Die', her evidence must be considered especially crucial. It is not simply the fact that this evidence exists but that it adds a newer dimension to Anne which has been guessed about, worked upon and posited for these past 70 years and more. We have perhaps gained our own insight into a young girl whose diary has delivered so much that has been taken from it. Here, we have an addition to those pages which emerge as added depth to a person we have sought to know.
"..One of ..Children in my barracks toward ..end of ..war was Anne Frank ..whose diary became famous after her death. I didn’t know her family beforehand ..and I don’t recall much about her ..but I do remember her as a quiet child. When I heard later that she was 15 when she was in ..camps ..I was surprised. She seemed younger to me. Pen and paper were hard to find ..but I have a memory of her writing a bit. Typhus was a terrible problem ..especially for ..Children. Of 500 in my barracks ..maybe 100 got it ..and most of them died. Many others starved to death. When Anne Frank got sick with typhus ..I remember telling her she could stay in ..barracks ..she didn’t have to go to appell." Irma Sonnenberg Menkel.
"..There was so little to eat. In my early days there ..we were each given one roll of bread for 8 days ..we tore it up ..piece by piece. One cup of black coffee a day and one cup of soup. And water. That was all. Later there was even less. When I asked ..kommandant for a little bit of gruel for ..Children’s diet ..he would sometimes give me some extra cereal. Anne Frank was among those who asked for cereal ..but how could I find cereal for her. It was only for ..little Children ..and only a little bit. ..Children died anyway. A couple of trained nurses were among ..inmates ..and they reported to me. In ..evening ..we tried to help ..sickest. In ..morning ..it was part of my job to tell ..soldiers how many had died ..night before. Then they would throw ..bodies on ..fire." Irma Sonnenberg Menkel.
I will not even begin to catalogue the Books that are available referencing Anne Frank, which is a catologue on its own. Without The Diary of Anne Frank, there would have been no following that could inspire so much, both reverential and dissecting with regards the inhumanity that could not destroy the humanity which is in each of us. Anne's life, her times and the tumult of those times have accused humanity, judged history and haunted reams of paper with dissertation and the flow of words unable to capture the essential needlessness of her Destruction. So for me, I will Catalogue those Books I have, I have Read and I would reference in connection with the life of a remarkable Young Girl seeking to inform us, which I know accutely well and I would urge all those keen to learn more, know more and perhaps understand even less, to search the:
Anne Frank House. Museum with a Story.
"..Anne Frank House is a museum with a story. ..Attention is ..given to ..traces left behind by ..inhabitants of ..Secret Annex ..images Anne pasted on her bedroom wall and ..pencil marks indicating how much Anne and Margot grew during ..2 years in hiding." Ronald Leopold.
Anne Frank House. House.
"..There is much to learn from ..story of this young Woman amid ..terrible times." Jeffrey Shandler.
Denenberg, Barry. Shadow Life.
"..We live at a time when insensitivity to ..value of human life is on rise .. ..reading about Anne Frank is ..especially ..meaningful now. ..Perhaps we will finally understand ..object of hate ..violence ..evil may be a Child just like ourselves. ..even a young girl living in Amsterdam who has ..celebrated her 13th. Birthday ..has ..received .only gift she cared about ..a diary. ..her whole life before her." Barry Denenberg.
Frank, Anne. Dreaming, Thinking, Writing.
"..I am almost 90 now ..my strength is gradually declining. ..task ..Anne set before me keeps giving me new strength ..to struggle for reconciliation and for human rights ..world over." Otto Frank.
Frank, Anne. The Diary of a Young Girl.
Saturday July 15th. 1944
"..It's really a wonder that I haven't dropped all my ideals ..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 ..death. I see ..world gradually being turned into a wilderness ..I hear ..ever approaching thunder ..which will destroy us too ..I can feel ..sufferings of 1,000,000's and yet ..if I look up into ..heavens ..I think that it will all come right ..that this cruelty too will end ..and that peace and tranquillity will return again. In ..meantime ..I must uphold my ideals ..for perhaps ..time will come when I shall be able to carry them out ". Anne M Frank.
Frank, Anne. The Diary of Anne Frank:
The Critical Edition.
Saturday July 15th. 1944
"..It's really a wonder that I haven't dropped all my ideals ..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 ..death. I see ..world gradually being turned into a wilderness ..I hear ..ever approaching thunder ..which will destroy us too ..I can feel ..sufferings of 1,000,000's and yet ..if I look up into ..heavens ..I think that it will all come right ..that this cruelty too will end ..and that peace and tranquillity will return again. In ..meantime ..I must uphold my ideals ..for perhaps ..time will come when I shall be able to carry them out. " Yours Anne.
Frank, Anne. The Diary of Anne Frank:
The Definitive Edition.
Saturday July 15th. 1944
"..It's a wonder I haven't abandoned all my ideals ..they seem so absurd and impractical. Yet I cling to them ..because I still believe ..in spite of everything that people are truly good at heart. It's utterly impossible for me to build my life on a foundation of chaos ..suffering ..death. I see ..world being slowly transformed into a wilderness ..I hear ..approaching thunder that ..one day ..will destroy us too ..I feel ..suffering of 1,000,000's. ..yet ..when I look up at ..sky ..I somehow feel that everything will change for ..better ..that this cruelty too will end ..that peace and tranquillity will return once more. In ..meantime ..I must hold on to my ideals. ..Perhaps ..day will come when I'll be able to realize them. " Yours Anne M Frank.
Frank, Anne. Tales from the Secret Annexe.
"..message of hope in that one person can make a difference. ..Otto Frank's determination lead us to learn how not to hate." Gillian Walnes.
Gies, Miep. Anne Frank Remembered: The Story of the Woman Who Helped to Hide the Frank Family.
"..More than 20,000 Dutch people helped to hide Jews ..in need of hiding. ..I willingly did what I could. ..My husband did. ..It was not enough. ..place ..Anne Frank holds in history ..what her story has come to mean for ..many millions ..touched by it." Miep Gies.
Lee, Carol Ann. Otto Frank.
"..arrest ..led by ss Oberscharfuhrer Karl Josef Silberbauer ..took place in ..annexe of ..spice company ..it included ..director of ..company ..Otto Frank ..and his Family. ..calamity had spread across ..life of Otto Frank like a sheet of flame ..and ..embers ..burned many years later," Carol Ann Lee.
Lindwer, Willy. The Last Seven Months of Anne Frank.
"..Women speak ..Women ..like Anne ..were in Westerbork ..Auschwitz ..Belsen. ..knew Anne. ..describe what happened on ..transports ..in ..camps where Anne stayed. ..what Anne and these women ..who approached ..limits of human endurance ..went through." Willy Lindwer.
Schloss, Eva. After Auschwitz.
"..I feel I have a responsibility to help others understand that we are capable of overcoming ..most difficult circumstances." Eva Schloss.
Schloss, Eva, with Evelyn J. Kent. Eva's Story: A Survivor's Tale by the Step-Sister of Anne Frank.
"..So by ..tragedy in both our lives ..together we found new happiness." Fritzi Frank.
I am mindful there should be an Epitaph that would extend beyond those memorials to Anne, that already exist, that would be able to trace her arrest, review her detention and then follow her on the transport to and from Westerbork. Following her toward Auschwitz and Birkenau and then from there and onto Belsen is a duty for many but an effort for few. These traces would further ensure we commemorate Anne's presence, a life that was taken from us. There is always the fact that Anne, a viable person, is recalled as having been here and in each of these places. The delivery of Anne toward destruction could be retraced from her Birthplace to Holland and from safety to destruction. Perhaps a documentary on what Anne might have seen enroute to Westerbork, Auschwitz and Birkenau and then Belsen would avail us of more of the fact of this intriguing Young Girl's legacy to us.
"..I have a dim memory of Anne Frank speaking of her father. She was a nice ..fine person. ..When she slipped into a coma ..I took her in my arms. She didn’t know that she was dying. She didn’t know that she was so sick. You never know. At ..Belsen ..you did not have feelings anymore. You became paralyzed. In all ..years since ..I almost never talked about ..Belsen. I couldn’t. It was too much. When ..war was over ..we went in a cattle truck to a place where we stole everything out of a house. I stole a pig ..and we had a butcher who slaughtered it. Eating this ..when we had eaten so little before ..was bad for us. It made many even sicker. But you can’t imagine how hungry we were. At ..end ..we had absolutely nothing to eat. I asked an American soldier holding a piece of bread if I could have a bite. He gave me ..whole bread. That was really something for me." Irma Sonnenberg Menkel.
Sadly, this survival was not to be the fate for Anne, nor 6,000,000 Jews of Europe upon whom I remark. And as I reflect and rcall as I sat on that train, a Railway journey that was stopping off along the very route Anne would have taken from Central Station Amsterdam toward Westerbork, how could she then know what awaited her. Asking questions from those in the neighbourhood of Anne’s former residence, we gain a clearer picture of Anne's kind hearted though mischievous soul. Within Westerbork, Auschwitz and Birkenau and then Belsen, moments creep out which still present newer emphasis of her to us. Anne, nor the many 1,000,000's from within the 6,000,000 Murdered Jewish catastrophe itself, can see those who have profitted most from the removal of the Jews from these areas of former Jewish presence. No moral concern delivers to History a wrong righted, especially given this expropriation of what has been Jewish before being taken, including these Jewish lives.
There are traces of the former lives of th Jew of Europe, which seem owned by tother's not rihtly belonging to them. We see owned former Jewish property’s, possibly from those Jews now disappeared, overtaken by other's who have no right to the claims. As I stand before the memorial statue of Anne Frank, which is situated a few yards from The Anne Frank House and outside the Westerkerk, I am struck by its seeming paucity of stature as I recognise with equivalence the place of Amsterdam in Jewish a former presence now largely disipated. Here too the Art World is open to similar accusation. Art, though it is becoming the aristocrat of greed and the symbol of a divisiveness unseen since the Renaissance created such brilliance, has been so misapproipriated as to be complicit in all that Anne represents and all that 6,000,000 Jews have lost.
The profit of ownership far outways the diligence afforded People deprived of a living standard so beneath a living standard, People die of hunger, neglect and the lack of human concern or compassion reminisecent of a past we are meant to learn positively from. Invariably I dislike comparison because in doing so it throws up a dissent which might even demean the discourse I wish to traverse. Here though, with The Holocaust a gaping wound before all of History, unprecedented in nature and unparalled in its extreme and systematic atrocity, Anne Frank too remains incomparable. In a literal sense, and in Humanitarian terms, Anne's reach is unsurmountable. For instance, take an artist like Rembrandt, who considers himself the equal of, or the aspiring student whose view toward superior artists, in many ways, does his demand some harm.
The likes of Caravaggio, Michelangelo, Raphael or Titian, to share their world prominence, one must share an ability that is remotely comparable in the least. For the artist Rembrandt,1606 till 1669, he fits that remit in so many ways, and his work is rightly revered for its dexterity, mood and brilliance. For some 13 years prior to his death, and for perhaps 17 years, he worked and painted in Amsterdam. But I am not here to commend such artistry, as it is rightly held, but to compare the inequality given over to the exploitation of gifts, talents and legacies. For an almost comparable length of time Anne Frank too spent time in Amsterdam, from February 16th. 1934 until her betrayal on August 4th. 1944. Also, there were a further 7 Human Beings cowering in a shelter insulated somewhat from what was now ravaging Jewish existence throughout the rest of Europe.
Already sheltering from an approaching storm as Hitler's rhetoric was converted into abuse, assault and Murder, Otto Frank formed an astute recognition of the dangers for his Family, as Jews, even here in 1933. Here in Amsterdam, their collective Survival would rest largely upon that intuition for the proceeding 12 year period. Added to this, for 2 years of that time, between 1942 -1944 Anne and the Family and the van Pels and Fritz Pfeffer remained hidden and concealed from a murderous attempt, soon to be recognised as, The Holocaust. So we reach a climate of the gravest concern for all of humanity and for which the artistry of Anne's words strives to a given mention of the horror to come and for us to attain a comprehension which is inconceiveable and incomprehensible to human nature. So do we weigh the relevance of words with a statue which pales in comparison to that of Remembrandt's or suggest a bias that once persisted still exists for which Anne deserves better than she is given.
"..When I got back to Holland ..no one knew anything. I finally found a priest who had ..address where my Sister and Daughter were. I didn’t know if they were living or not. They were. They had been hidden by a man who worked for my brother. That was luck. I found them and began crying. I was so thin that at first they didn’t recognize me. There are many stories like mine ..locked inside people for decades. Even my family heard only a little of this one until recently. Whatever stories you have in your family ..tell them. It helps." Irma Sonnenberg Menkel.