Monday, June 2, 2014
Happy Birthday Anne Frank
Today is Anne Frank's birthday – she would have been 84.
Imagine Anne Frank still alive today. Imagine a World Without Hate.
We do. Join us . www.adl.org/imagine
I don't think of all the misery, but of all the beauty that remains."-Anne Frank.
I must have been 12 or 13 when I first read her diary and was devastated to find out how she died. That led me to study more about WW II, the Holocaust and the deliberate targeting of people for who they were - not just Jews, but gays, Gipsies, political dissenters - the list is endless. As the oldest daughter in a family that was anything but liberal, I felt like each and every one was my brother, my sister.
Anne was a girl, on the verge of womanhood, full of the hopes and dreams and fears we all are at that age. She was not saint but an ordinary girl with an extraordinary gift that has enriched us through her honest and profound writings.
I have reread the book several times. At each reading, I came to appreciate all the other things - the tragedy of having lost such an amazing and talented young voice in the most horrible of circumstances; the beauty of Anne's writing which is all the more amazing given how young she was when she wrote this diary; and the themes of alienation, fear, and hope.
When I visited Europe, more years ago than I want to remember, I made a point of visiting several camps - to honor those who had become my heroes. Not just Anne Frank but the poets, writers, artists, even religious leaders who spoke out against Fascism.
I was struck, not for the first time, of the tragedy that was the Holocaust - not simply that millions were murdered but that, without voices such as Anne's, we would not truly understand that each and every one was an individual, with a right to life. That murdered prisoner could have been me or someone I loved or admired. That woman who died in such a cruel way could have been my sister. That man who was sent to the gas chamber could have been one of my friends. The children tortured in the name of science could have been any of my beloved nieces and nephews.
The Soviet writer Ilya Ehrenburg wrote of her: "one voice speaks for six million—the voice not of a sage or a poet but of an ordinary little girl."
Anne Frank and her sister, Margot Frank, were eventually transferred to the Bergen-Belsen concentration camp, where they died of typhus in March 1945. She was 15 years old.