Wednesday, June 12, 2019

Anne Frank at 90

Anne Frank was born on this date in 1929 in Frankfurt am Main, Germany.  Had she lived she would have turned 90 years old.  But we will always remember her as a smiling 15 year old girl who dreamed of one day becoming a writer.

Most people think of her as a young Jewish Dutch girl living in Amsterdam, but she was actually born in Germany and immigrated to Holland with her family when she was four years old.  She retained her German citizenship.  They remained happy in their new homeland until 1940, just shy of Anne’s 11th birthday, when Holland was attacked and occupied by the armed forces of Nazi Germany which quickly enacted laws restricting the rights of Jews.  Anne's father tried to obtain asylum in the USA or Cuba but was unsuccessful.  Stripped of their German citizenship they managed to somehow survive in Amsterdam until the summer of 1942 when Anne’s older sister Margot was ordered deported to a labor camp.  The family and a few friends went into hiding in a secret room which Anne’s father had prepared at  Prinsengracht 263. 

Anne received a small diary on her 13th birthday, shortly before her family went into hiding, and over the next two years recorded her thoughts and feelings.  She dreamed of becoming a writer; writing and publishing stories, and even a novel.  Such dreams for a young girl hiding with her family in fear for their lives.

Their hiding place was discovered and stormed by the German Security Police on August 4, 1944.  Following their arrest and interrogation the family was sent to the Westerbork transit camp in northeastern Holland.  In late September they were  transported to Auschwitz, in Poland, arriving there three days later.  Miraculously Anne and Margot were spared from the gas chambers during the selections on arrival.   They remained at Auschwitz until late October or early November when they were transported with thousands of others to the Bergen-Belsen concentration camp in Germany.  Both sisters died there during an outbreak of typhus in the spring of 1945. 

Only Anne’s father survived the war.  He returned to Amsterdam to discover that Anne’s diary has been saved by his secretary.  Upon reading it he knew what he had to do.  


I want to be useful or bring enjoyment to all people, even those I've never met. I want to go on living even after my death! And that's why I'm so grateful to God for having given me this gift, which I can use to develop myself and to express all that's inside me!

The first copies of the now famous diary were published in June 1947.  It remains one of the most important reminders of the Nazi persecution of the Jews.  Today her diary is read in 70 different languages and warns the world of the dangers of anti-Semitism and racist discrimination . . . a valuable lesson in today’s world.  Thanks to her diary, Anne Frank continues to live in our memory today.

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