Several weeks ago I attended the stage play of The Diary of Anne Frank in Harlingen at the Community Theatre. I read this book as a teenager, but had wanted to reread it. About a year ago I had downloaded it on my Kindle, but had neglected to read it. This play was an extraordinary production, which moved my soul and all those who attended. At that point I knew I would reread the book again. The Frank family were of the Jewish faith living in Vienna. Hitler came to power in 1933, and blamed the Jews for many of the country’s problems. He stepped up the persecution of the Jews and implemented a highly organized strategy of persecution, murder, and genocide aimed at ethnically “purifying” Germany. During the Holocaust, he was responsible for murdering 6,000,000 Jews (1.5 million of these being children) and the destruction of 5,000 Jewish communities. These deaths represented two-thirds of European Jews and one-third of all world Jews. He built Concentration Camps with Crematoriums, including the most famous Auschwitz. The Jews would arrive in trains of cattle cars and many would be marched in and gassed immediately. The Holocaust is one of the most notorious acts of genocide in modern history. Today the Holocaust is viewed as the emblematic manifestation of absolute evil.
Otto Frank moved his family to Amsterdam in The Netherlands from Vienna in 1933. He was trying to obtain Visa’s to leave Europe. His family and many others felt safe until 1942. The Germans invaded The Netherlands also as well as many country’s across Europe. After much planning, Otto took his family into hiding in the second and third floor rooms at the back of his Amsterdam company. During the next 2 years they would live together with 4 others, never to leave these rooms. Anne was given a Diary for her 13th Birthday just before they went into hiding. She was passionate about writing and wanted to eventually be an Author. Little did she know that some day her Diary would be published. The whole world would know her story. I also downloaded and read 2 more books to tell the story of Anne Frank and her family.
Book 1….. Anne Frank, The Diary Of a Young Girl
This book is written in Diary form, starting with her first entries on her 13th Birthday, before they went into hiding. She describes her life as a 13 year old going to school and her family and friends. They went into hiding shortly after. During the next 2 years, Anne writes of their daily lives, sickness, food and hunger, her feelings, and loneliness. She describes her inner heart and soul, and her body changes as she matures into puberty. Their are so many daily struggles to just survive, and not be caught. They cannot move during the day because of the business down stairs. No running of water, and no flushing of the toilet during the day. Only a handful of workers downstairs know they are their. After business hours, they can then move around, fix their meals and visit. Their caretakers deliver food and all their needs daily. They enter the upstairs by sliding the bookcase from over the hidden stairway.
In those 2 years, Anne develops from a 13 year old young girl to a 15 year old wise in maturity. Her thoughts and desires as she writes them down are of a grown women. She struggles with getting along with her mom as many teens do. The whole family and the 4 others in the house struggle also with the daily life of being together. They watch the trees change from season to season behind the blackout curtains. Meip Gies, one of the caretakers visits them daily and gives them the news of the war. They have so many hopes that Hitler and Germany will be defeated soon. They dream about their future after the war is over. During this time Anne’s thought processes become so deep, so intimate. She is such an intelligent girl. The last entry into the diary is just before the Nazi troops arrived. In August of 1944, they were taken into custody. The were taken into a camp in Holland for awhile. Unfortunately, they were put on the last train back into Germany. They were then split up. The sisters stayed together and went to Auschwitz, then Bergen-Belson. They both died of Typhus in March 1945, just before the Liberation. Edith also died as well as all the other 4, including Peter her teenage friend, hiding in their building. Otto was the only survivor. He returned to Amsterdam. After confirming that Anne was not coming back, Meip Gies, gave the diary to Otto. After the Nazi troops had taken the family that day, Meip went upstairs and found the diary and saved it for Anne, for when she returned. Anne had spoken many times about wanting to be an author. Otto took this diary, although heartbroken and started editing it for publication. The original version was altered. He took out some of the entries of the description of her changing body. He also took out some of the passages of Anne not getting along with her mother. He felt they were just to personal at that time. The first book was published in 1947. Eventually it was published in over 67 different languages. After Otto’s death in 1980, the book was republished and some of the original passages reinserted. This book has been made into stage plays and films. In 1960, the Anne Frank House in Amsterdam became a Museum under the guidance of Otto Frank.
The Diary of Anne Frank remains one of the most moving and widely read firsthand accounts of the Jewish experience during the Holocaust. On Feb 3 1944 she wrote ” I’ve reached the point where I hardly care if I live or die, The world will keep on turning without me, and I can’t do anything to change events anyway”. She reached so many points of despair. But then on April 5 1944 she wrote ” When I write, I can shake off all my cares”. Anne’s diary is a story of faith, hope and love in the face of hate.
Book 2……Anne Frank Remembered, The Story of the Woman Who Helped Hide the Frank Family…..By Miep Gies
This book is written by Miep Gies. She was an employee of the business. This gives you the perspective of what was happening on the outside of the staircase. Meip explains her history and how she managed to evade the Nazis. After she married her husband Jan, she become a trusted employee and friend who was in the confidence of Otto Frank and a few others. She tells of how the few office workers protected and fed the 8 people upstairs. Those helping, each had specific duties including her husband. Hers was to grocery shop. She would visit the shops daily being careful to not draw attention. As food became more scarce, she would start to travel farther on her bicycle. Finally she had to travel into the country and be back by curfew. All of this was under the terror of the Nazis as they watched. She would bring her food daily to the family’s upstairs and also news of the Nazi Occupation. She would supply them with library books and enroll them in correspondence classes, all under her name. She also became a friend of Anne, learning of her desires and needs. She grew very fond of her family upstairs. During this time, the business had to be run as normal every day. She tells of the day the Gestapo came. The earthshattering moments filled with terror. She was in the office and made to stay at her desk. She heard their footsteps as they were lead away through the halls and outside. Her husband hid outside and watched as they all were herded into the truck and drove away. To this day they never found out who told on the Franks. They believe it was someone from within the business. Their was a reward given for anyone giving information on the location of a Jew. For days they worked in terror, with their hearts broken, thinking the Gestapo would be back. Several of the workers were arrested also for helping hide them. Meip went upstairs and found the rooms had been ransacked. She found Anne’s Diary and pages that she wrote. strewn on the floor. They were all collected and hidden for when Anne came back. The following year, the Liberation began. The war was over. Hitler was dead. Otto returned to Amsterdam a broken and sick man. They found out everyone was dead including and Anne and Margot. They died of Typhus in Bergen-Belson just before the Liberation. Otto, upon reading the Diary, learned of a different girl than he knew. Her thoughts ran so deep at times. Exploring areas one would not have thought a 13 year old had went. It was a story he knew he had to share for his daughter. He started editing and vowed to Publish the book which was Anne’s hopes and desires. Miep’s story is a story filled with love of her family upstairs, her desire to help them and support them. The terror of the times and what it was like to try to just live your life under Nazi control, but to also give all you have and more, to risk your life for others.
Book 3……After Auschwitz, The Story of Heartbreak and Survival by the Step Sister of Anne Frank. By Eva Schloss
Now this book really surprised me. This was a story I had never heard of before. So Anne had a Step Sister?…..So this is Eva’s Story…Eva grew up with her parents and her older brother. They also had left Germany and went to Amsterdam Holland to live. As children, Eva and Anne had attended the same school and played together. Eva had met Anne’s parents, Otto and Edith Frank. Eva also went into hiding but not as a family. Her and her mother were given a room in an apartment in town. Her father and brother lived in the country. They did managed to visit several times. Their was some moving around as the places became to dangerous. They were finally turned in by the lady who was boarding her father and brother. She had been raising their rent again, and again, and finally turned them into the Nazis. The whole family was moved to Auschwitz. She was able to stay with her mother. Her father and brother was separated. They were close to death many times, but always seemed to get that break that allowed them to live. She tells of the horrible events and living conditions. It was strictly survival. Eva seen her father several times as he was marching past. They were able to talk a little. Eva and her mother survived until the Liberation of the Concentration Camps. They searched and searched but couldn’t find her father and brother. They found out they died later as the Germans marched them farther into Germany on the last days of the war. Eva and her mom finally returned to Amsterdam. It also was a long horrendous journey. On the way they ran into Otto Frank. He was thin, forlorn and very sad. When they returned, they went to a friends house and were welcomed with open arms. Days later, the door bell rang, and their was Otto Frank. His family was also friends of these people. Later, Eva and her mom went to their old apartment. It was still locked. Upon opening it, they found it just like they left it. Eva and her moved back in and eventually invited Otto to rent a room. For the next years, Eva’s mom became close to Otto, and helped him with Anne’s Diary. After it was published she went on to help him with correspondence. They started traveling and helped with the writing and direction of the stage plays and films. Eva eventually was married and started her family. A year later, in November 1953, Otto and Eva’s mother was married. They continued to live a very happy life together, working side by side with the Diary of Anne Frank. They traveled all over the world telling her story. Eva eventually started to attend lectures and talk about her story. It became a healing process for her. She had never talked about the atrocities of the Holocaust, what it did to her and her family. Finally her story was told. By this time she had 3 children and was now a grandmother. Otto became very happy as a husband, stepfather and now a grandfather. But they all worked together to continue to tell the Story Of Anne Frank.
Their are so many books on the subject of the Holocaust. So many stories to tell. But can you imagine the untold story’s? The ones that never made it out of the Camps. 6,000,000 Jews died. So Many innocent people…..Only because of their Faith……These 3 books are such an enlightenment of what went on because of one man…..Adolph Hitler.…These story’s must always be remembered. We must never let evil again reign down on our earth……Again, this is only the story’s of a few people, what about the other 6 million….