Wednesday, June 12, 2019
Anne Frank’s diary, in which she tells the story of her time in hiding from the Nazis, brings to life the importance of guarding against the damaging waves of anti-semitism, racism, bigotry, and intolerance that continue to rise up. If we can care about Anne’s story, we can care about the stories of the millions of children around the world who are being persecuted for reasons of politics, power, and control.
Anne Frank's life was ended, at 15 years old, by the hatred and prejudice of the Holocaust. We can only imagine what she would have accomplished had she lived the long and healthy life that every child deserves. Anne wanted to be a writer, and despite her tragedy, she accomplished that.
Anne's diary has been read by millions of people. Thanks to the Anne Frank House museum in Amsterdam, we know that Anne dreamed about publishing her diary one day. On 29 March 1944, Anne wrote: "Imagine how interesting it would be if I published a novel about the Secret Annex."
Menno Metselaar, who has worked for almost thirty years researching and writing for the Anne Frank House in Amsterdam, helped to write the book All About Anne to answer the most common questions that young people ask when they come to the museum.
Menno believes that you can tell the story of Anne Frank's time in hiding with three numbers: 8, 6, 761
8 is the number of people who lived in hiding in the Secret Annex, trying to avoid being captured and taken away to a concentration camp simply because they were Jews. They were: the Frank family (Otto and Edith and Anne and her sister Margot), the Van Pels family (Hermann, Auguste and their son Peter), and Fritz Pfeffer.
“They did everything they could to get along — they celebrated holidays, they celebrated birthdays, they laughed at dinners — they really tried their utmost to make it work, but the situation was just so extreme.” - Menno Metselaar
6 is the number of the non-Jewish helpers who risked their lives to help keep the people in hiding safe, fed, and alive: Miep and her husband Jan Gies, Johannes Kleiman, Victor Kugler, and Bep and her father Johan Voskuijl.
“There was nothing else I could do. I had to help them: They were my friends.” - Victor Kugler
761 is the number of days Anne (with her sister Margot and their parents) spent in the hiding place. On day 761, all eight people in hiding and two of their helpers, Johannes Kleiman and Victor Kugler, were arrested. It was 4 August, 1944.
“Seven hundred and sixty-one days living in fear with seven other people.”
Anne and her sister Margot were separated from their parents. They were transported, first to Auschwitz-Birkenau, and then to the Bergen-Belsen concentration camp. It was there that first Margot, and then Anne, died of typhus. It was February, 1945 — Margot was 18 or 19 years old and Anne was 15. We will never know the exact dates of their deaths because they were not recorded.
761 days from today will be July 12, 2021.
Imagine living in fear and hiding from today until then.
What will our world be like all those months from now?
Will it be safer?
We can be confident that it will still need people like Anne. And like the six helpers who kept her safe.
We can hope that young people will continue to read Anne’s story, and to feel inspired to stand up for something good, for someone who needs help. To make this a world where stories like Anne’s no longer happen.