THE IMMORTAL SPIRIT OF ANNE FRANK By SUTITRTHA SEN

This blog has been enriched by the writing of Mr Swapan Sen, who has contributed several important articles.( See here , here, here and here) . I will be uploading one more very soon. This article is by his son, Sutirtha who is an IT professional and researches the World War of the last century as a hobby. This article is on Anne Frank, the German Jewish girl who became the face of the unfortunate Jews who perished in the holocaust during the thirties and forties. The Diary Of Anne Frank is required reading for all who believe in liberty and basic human values. Tomorrow would have been the 83rd Birthday of this courageous young lady.

The Immortal Spirit Of Anne Frank

It was the late thirties of the twentieth century. Germany was in the grasp of a fanatic called Adolf Hitler, the self-proclaimed Fuhrer & messiah of the German people.

" Close your hearts to pity. Eighty million Germans must obtain what is their right.”

These words of Adolf Hitler were fervently echoed by his vicious & sadistic Nazi party followers & ultimately led civilization to the brink of destruction when the Second World War broke out in Sept 1939. Hitler’s anti-semitism claimed millions of innocent lives & his vitriolic hatred of Jews alone wiped out six million of the Jewish race. This was the result of Hitler`s quest for “the final solution” or the Jewish problem by which the Nazis used to refer to it. The faceless, nameless victims of this holocaust, all those who died of starvation, torture, diseases & gassing at the Nazi concentration camps, were later identified symbolically with the face of a child named Anne Frank. Anne Frank, a German Jewish teenager, was barely fifteen years old when she perished in the concentration camp of Bergen-Belsen in March 1945.
Anne was born on June 12, 1929 in Frankfurt am Main in Germany of parents Otto & Edith Frank. Otto Frank had served in the Kaiser`s army during the First World War. Otto & Edith led a happy life, highlighted by the birth of their daughters Margot & Anne. Though they were German to the core, this Jewish family had to move from their Frankfurt apartment because their landlord was a member of the Nazi party. In 1933, with the collapse of the family bank & the rise of Adolf Hitler to power, the Franks decided to move to the relative safety of Amsterdam, Holland. Otto set up a small business in Holland selling pectin, a substance used in homemade jam.

Though there were many Dutch members of the Nazi party, Holland treated its Jewish refugees very well & the Franks led a seemingly safe, secure life among other refugees in their Amsterdam neighbourhood. The family`s feelings of security, however, collapsed when in 1940, Hitler’s troops conquered Holland & the freedom of the Jews began to be severely restricted. Dictates on where Jews could shop, swim or go to school became a part of everyday life. Aware of where those restrictions might ultimately lead, Otto spent the year preparing & stocking an annex behind his business office as a hideout for his family. When, on July 5, 1942, Margot was ordered to report to a German labour camp, the Frank family decided it was time to disappear. Leaving behind a false trail indicating that they had escaped to Switzerland, they took up residence in the annex and were soon joined by Otto’s business associate Herman van Pels, his wife Auguste and their son Peter. The families used to be supplied with food and rations by a few of Otto’s trusted employees. While their friends on the outside were being rounded up, the Franks tried to establish a life of normality.
Otto and Edith Frank had presented their daughter Anne with a diary on her thirteenth birthday, barely three weeks before going into hiding. In this diary, she started recording the details of her day-to-day life, their emotions, fears and hopes. During the two years she wrote in her diary, she recorded the extraordinary life of a young girl in turbulent and terrible times. Despite the hatred and violence she saw around her, she never lost faith in humanity. In her own words in the diary,

“ It’s utterly impossible 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 into the sky, I somehow feel that everything will change for the better, that this cruelty too will end, that peace and tranquility will return once more. In the meantime, I must hold on to my ideals. Perhaps the day will come when I will be able to realize them.”

In a world marked by violence, hatred and intolerance, Anne penned down thoughts in her diary, which reflect the need of our moral obligation to respect each other and accept each other’s differences amicably. That is why she remains an inspiration for generation after generation and her diary will always remain something for humanity to cherish. Anne wrote in her diary that in spite of everything that was happening around them – the ruthless extermination of the Jews by the Nazis and the crazed orgy of horror and destruction - she believed that all men are basically good at heart. Anne and her family, along with the van Pels and their mutual friend Fritz Pfeffer continued to live in hiding, always apprehensive and fearful of being discovered.
On March 29, 1944, Anne heard a radio broadcast from London saying that, after the war all diaries dealing with the war would be collected. Realizing that her words could some day be read, she began rewriting her entire diary. She hoped that it might be published in the future. Shortly thereafter, news of D-day (the Allied invasion of Normandy in France) sent the spirits soaring in the annex, offering the hope that liberation might soon be near.

“ …. The time will come when we will be people again and not just Jews!”

These moving words in Anne’s diary speak of their expectations and hopes, which they nurtured throughout their period of hiding. Those hopes were dashed on August 4, 1944, when an anonymous caller tipped off the Nazis that they were hiding in the office annex. The Gestapo, the Nazi secret Police, promptly arrested them that night.
After being betrayed to the Nazis, Anne, her family and the others living with them were taken to the Gestapo Head Quarters. Miep Gies , a trusted employee of Otto Frank, who had been helping them all along and was a loyal friend of the Franks later managed to retrieve Anne’s diary, which the ransacking Nazis had left behind. After four days in the Gestapo cellar, the prisoners were loaded on to a train headed for Westerbork transit camp in northern Holland. On Sept 3, the final Auschwitz transport left Westerbork carrying all eight of them. On their arrival at Auschwitz along with thousands of other Jewish prisoners, a large number was immediately sent to the gas chamber. Of the remaining Jews, including the Franks and the others from the annex, the men were separated from the women. Hermann van Pels was gassed to death a few weeks after. Meanwhile Anne, Margot, Edith Frank and Auguste van Pels were placed in one of the women’s blocks at Auschwitz-Birkenau. On October 28, Margot and Anne were sent to the Bergen-Belsen concentration camp in Germany and never saw their mother again. Edith frank died at Auschwitz. She was only one of its millions of victims. The van Pels and Fritz Pfeffer also met their deaths at different concentration camps. At Bergen- Belsen concentration camp, the inmates were at the mercy of the notorious commandant SS-Hauptsturmfuhrer Josef Kramer, who was nicknamed the “beast of Belsen”. As starvation, disease and cold swept through the camp’s population, Margot developed typhus and died. A few days later, Anne herself, in April 1945, succumbed to the disease a few weeks before the British liberated the camp. She was only fifteen years old.
The men’s camp at Auschwitz was liberated on Jan 27, 1945. Otto Frank, barely alive, was discovered by the Soviet army that liberated Auschwitz. As he recovered, he began to search for his family. En route home to Amsterdam, he learnt of his wife’s death, but it was not until some time after returning home that he discovered the facts of Margot and Anne’s death from Janny Brandes-Brilleslijper, who was with the Frank sisters at Bergen-Belsen. Miep Gies, the trusted and loyal friend of the Franks, returned Anne`s diary to Otto. Otto felt that it should be published. After attempting unsuccessfully initially, he managed to get it published in 1947 under the title “The Backhouse”. By the early 1950s, Anne’s diary had been translated and read all over the world. In 1955, a stage production titled “The Diary of Anne Frank” opened on Broadway and was later adapted into an Oscar-winning film. Through her father’s efforts, Anne’s wish – “ I want to go on living even after my death.” – had indeed come true. Today, her diary has been translated into sixty-seven languages and is one of the most widely read books in the world. The diary of Anne Frank is a saga of her indomitable courage and spirit and stands as a warning to all those who discriminate on the basis of colour, culture and creed. In former UN Secretary General Kofi Annan`s words, on signing the Frank Declaration, Jan 14, 1999 :
“Anne Frank’s eternal words have inspired people of all ages, religions and nationalities, but they resound most powerfully among the young. If Anne Frank, in her living hell, could summon the will to imagine a better, peaceful world, a future free of suffering and persecution, then surely we can summon the will to make that day come to pass.”

Comments

I loved reading ‘the Diary of Anne Frank’. Thanks for sharing information about her.

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Unknown said…
Anne Frank is a symbol of undying courage and determination for all the Jews all over the world. I loved your post, good work indeed!

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jostevenshuws said…
Anne Frank was the true courageous lady who helped the cause of Jews in Germany in a massive way.

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Jenifar said…
As I am quiet new in Jewish, looking around for some Jewish information> Got something important here. Nice to get it.
Have you seen this video http://goo.gl/DT6FN It helped me get over my internal anger.

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