78 years ago today, on July 6, 1942 a young girl of 13 Anne Frank, along with her sister, parents and 4 others went into hiding. They were Jews during WW2 and desperate to avoid certain death from the Nazi's.
In what was called The Annex which is located on The Prinsengrach in Amsterdam, Holland, the small rooms in which they were forced into hiding were located and hidden behind a bookcase where they lived for over 2 years. They were never allowed out, had to keep completely quiet during the day with only each other for company. The story is well known through the worldwide bestselling Diary of Anne Frank (a must read), one of the most honest and tragic recounts of life during this time.
I have always had a fascination with this story as my parents taught and lectured about the Holocaust for many years. As a descendant of multiple relatives that were killed by the Nazi's it is a subject that is very close to my heart. In April of this year I had plans to visit the Anne Frank house, with tickets in hand. Due to the Covid pandemic those plans had to be put on hold.
Yesterday I was fortunate to find the Netflix Documentary, Anne Frank:Parallel Stories (a must watch). It tells the story of Anne while weaving in the stories of 5 other women who were Anne's age but survived the camps. For those who may not know, In August of 1944 the Frank family was betrayed and captured. Anne and her sister Margot who had been transferred to Bergen-Belsen, died of typhus TWO WEEKS BEFORE LIBERATION. To think if only. If only. If only.
Watching the horrors of the Nazi cruelty and systematic extermination of the Jewish people will never, ever cease to make me question humanity. How can anyone understand this?
In the past two months racism has been at the forefront of news. It's the only thing that has taken attention away from the pandemic. Imagine - we are already reeling from this virus that is killing thousand of people and the only other thing we can think about is racism, hatred and the need for change.
When you think of the cruelty of the police officers that killed George Floyd, Breonne Taylor, David McAtee and Ahmaud Arbery (among others), transfer that mentality into the hundreds of thousands of Nazi officers and followers that had no problem taking millions of lives. This is not a comparison of who had is worse, it is a statement of the limitless cruelty of humanity over the years. The racism that has plagued our world for centuries.
During the documentary, one of the survivors speaks of the two days in July 1942 when over 13,000 French Jews were captured and taken to The Velodrome D'Hiver (a sports arena) in Paris (she escaped). From Wikipedia:
"According to records of the Préfecture de Police, 13,152 Jews were arrested, including more than 4,000 children.They were held at the Vélodrome d'Hiver in extremely crowded conditions, almost without food and water and with no sanitary facilities, as well as at the Drancy, Pithiviers, and Beaune-la-Rolande internment camps, then shipped in rail cattle cars to Auschwitz for their mass murder".
When one reads of this does it not give pause? This was just one small portion of the atrocities. Just one horrific act of racism. Think of all the others and wonder what has happened to humanity. Why did George Floyd have to beg for his life, only to lose it? Why did millions of Jews, Gypsies, Homosexuals and others have to be "exterminated" just because of who they were, what they believed? When and how will this madness ever end?
Anne Frank wrote a story of hope. She was wise beyond her years and most likely would have been all that she dreamed of had she survived. It's so sad that only through her death was the world able to see and read her words. We will never know if she had survived if her diary would have been published.
I used to try to see the world through rose colored glasses. Those glasses have been greyed over time and now are turning black. Somehow I'd love to find hope again, hope for a better world, hope for an acceptance of each other, who we are and what we believe. And as my parents ended every lecture they gave, "may it never happen again". Amen.