Without a doubt, when one is going to talk about the Second World War, the first thing that comes to mind is the world of the “Jews.” There are many other issues related to the second war, such as the death of thousands of soldiers. However, perhaps, such death can be justified in our mind as a patriotic defense, and that the only thing those released in that war did was to defend themselves from the bad guys, but who were the bad guys? For most of the world, the Germans were considered the bad guys, but not only because they wanted to appropriate their neighboring countries and demonstrate their power and superiority through weapons. They were deemed to be cruel, and inhumane because they attacked those who could not do anything to defend themselves. To this day, there is no reasonable justification for the cruelty, and the inhumane treatment that was given to all Jews who lived under German rule. Hitler and his followers considered that the Germans were of a race superior to that of the Jews; therefore, the beliefs and cultures that others professed were not correct and would only soil the purity of their race.
For human society in general, the Second World War was a time that had an impact and marked a before and after. At first, everything seemed rumors, but after revealing images and stories of the treatment the Jews received came to light, the world fell silent. Maybe it is hard to believe that humans are capable of doing so much harm to others without remorse. However, if we think about it, there are still people who think they are superior to others because of their skin color, religion, education, sex, or economic level, but if there is a difference, we are more “polite,” we do not say it, or we discriminate against them. We disguise it in a very polite way.
The book of Ann Frank’s Diary narrates almost two years of the life of a 13-year-old girl who lived in this era. Anne was born in Frankfurt Germany on June 12, 1929. Her family led a normal life; her father had a stable job, she had a sister named Margot, who was older than Anne. During her childhood, Anne and her sister went to school the same as many children their age. Life in Germany, when Anne was born, was very difficult for the Frank family, because there was a lot of unemployment, poverty, and a lot of disagreement with the government at that time. In that period a new political party was formed called the national socialist German labor party, also known as the Nazi party that was led by Adolf Hitler.
Hitler raised a false reality before the entire German nation, his opinion was very prejudiced against the Jews, since he considered them an inferior, evil, a dishonest and dangerous race for all Germans. Hitler’s campaign was trying to fight all the Jews because he thought they were the reason why the country was in trouble, and that they were taking jobs and opportunities from the Germans. The only solution for Hitler was to annihilate them; he thought that would make Germany a better place to live and prosper.
Then is how the journey to survive of many Jewish families in Germany began; the Frank family is a living example of all they had to do to resist the Nazis. Before the Nazi party was elected, the Frank family tried to lead a quiet pace of life, but by 1933 the Nazi party had already overthrown the previous government and Hitler had seized absolute power.
For that season (1933) Anne had already reached the age of 4 and conflicts began over the years. Every time there were more difficulties for all the Jews, there were many places that they could not reach, and if a Jew set up a business of any kind, they took possession of it, each time their freedom was affected and altered. The Frank family had gone through many problems, as they constantly changed their homes and even cities to evade the control the Nazi party had over the Jews. The Anne parents sought to locate themselves in places where racism and prejudice were not so remarkable or entrenched.
When Anne turned thirteen years of age in 1942, the conflicts became even more terrifying, every day it was reported that all Jews would be taken to the concentration camps to separate them from the Germans, and thus form a better nation. On her birthday she received many gifts, but without a doubt, the most appreciated was her parents’ gift, a cloth-bound newspaper in the form of chess.
On June 29, 1942, the Frank family received a letter from the police, informing them that they have to report to move to the concentration camps and as Anne’s father, Otto was aware of the whole situation, he knew what happened in those “fields.” When Anne learned of the news, all she did was reflect in her diary her feelings and how daily life became more difficult. After receiving the letter that would condemn them to live an awkward stage, Anne’s father decides to leave his home with his family, leaving all their belongings, to hide from the police in a place called Secret annex, in other words, a secret house to stay away until the war ended.
The book Scholarly Look at The Diary of Anne Frank from Bruno Bettelheim mentioned “While the Franks were making their preparations for going passively into hiding, thousands of other Jews in Holland (as elsewhere in Europe) were trying to escape to the free world, to survive and fight. Other who could no escape went underground -into hiding- each family member with, for example, a different gentile family. We gather from the diary, however, that the chief desire of the Frank family was to continue living as nearly as possible in the same fashion to which they had been accustomed in happier times.”
I imagine that they thought that everything would end in a few weeks. I started thinking what I would have done as a father, submit, hide or run away. Maybe fleeing would have been the best option, but not going to a place near Germany, leaving the continent if it had been possible. It had been a while since Hitler was in power and he gave many signs of his hatred of the Jewish race. Because not to flee as many did away, to another continent, why did they wait? Perhaps, in Otto’s mind never entered the idea that they could be eliminated from the world as an object without any value.
The place where they hide belonged to a family that was not Jewish, they were very close to Anne’s parents, who helped them by risking their own lives. It was a house that was not visible to the street, it was like an attic, and with the help of those friends, they were able to hide and survive for almost two years. In that place, the Frank family had to keep quiet so that no one would notice their presence. The way Anne describes the area was small, and it got smaller when another family, friends of their parents, also went to live with them. There Anne was writing in her diary because she could not leave anymore. He always commented on all the events that took place in the Secret Annex, as time went on, Anne had become accustomed to her life of confinement between four walls, and she never thought that the police would discover them.
I start to think if it is possible to live in confinement, without being able to breathe fresh air, to share a small environment with other people every day for two years in a row — tomorrow, afternoon, and evening watching and talking about the same thing with the same people. I believe that a person has to have a healthy mind or be a child with a lot of imagination and innocence mind to be able to survive confinement of so much time. Maybe, that’s what kept Anne, her creativity, and innocent spirit of a 13-year-old girl who had many dreams for her future. She knew everything that happened abroad through the radio and the comments of the adults. However, they were just words, he was not aware of reality, maybe because his innocent mind did not know the evil or the extent of the suffering that a human being can feel. On the contrary, the adults of that small group, according to the book, they have shown moments of desperation, and anxiety. There were many arguments between them, I think they were about to go crazy, but fear got over.
Many times, the desperation and the desires of survival lead the human to look for alternatives to survive; why they did not plan an emergency plan; why they did not think in a second option in case they were found; I guess I’m not the only one who thinks that. Bruno Bettelheim in his book Modern Critical Interpretations, A Scholarly Look at The Diary of Anne Frank says “An entirely different matter would have been planning for escape in case of discovery. The Franks’ hiding place had only one entrance; it did not have any other exit Despite this fact, during their many months of hiding they did not try to devise one. Nor did they make other plans for escape, such that one of the family members – as likely as Mr. Frank – would try to detain the police in the narrow entranceway – maybe even fight them, as suggested above – thus giving other members of the family a chance to escape, either by reaching the roofs of adjacent houses, or down to ladder into the alley behind the house in which they were living. ”
According to The Diary of Anne Frank, the last time Anne wrote in her diary was August 1, 1944, here she mentioned that she had problems with people in the house since they did not take her seriously because she was young. After three days they were discovered and taken to the concentration camps. Anne and Margot were separated from their parents. Otto Frank taken to the concentration camps where there were only men, her mother, Edith, was taken alone where there were women.
Her belongings were left behind, but Anne’s diary was kept safe along with some albums, Miep Gies, the friend who helped them hide during those two years could protect and maintain the belongings of Anne and her family.
The two families lost total contact; nobody knew where anyone was. Hitler’s purpose was to annihilate all the Jews, and he almost succeeded but a few weeks later the camps were liberated by the Soviets. Anne and her sister Margot die with the yellow fever epidemic, since the conditions in which they lived were Inhuman, and diseases became a constant threat of death, food was very scarce, and the cold of winter also killed many people.
After the Soviets defeated the Germans and the Second World War ended. The only survivor of the Jewish holocaust of the two families who hid was Anne’s pope, Otto Frank. Otto looked for his family for a while and whole that his daughters and his wife had died in the concentration camps. It is sad to know that after all the efforts you made to take care of your family, in the end, they were worth nothing.
Otto after knowing that he was the only survivor of his family, goes to Amsterdam to meet his friend Miep Gies, who offered to help him until he got a job again. When she learns that Anne was dead, she decides to give Otto the diary and the album. Anne’s father immediately begins to read everything that his daughter wrote in her journal. Perhaps after leaving confinement worse than the first two years lived, he was amazed at what he learned, he ignored his daughter in many paragraphs. Otto knew that one of his daughter’s dreams of being a journalist or writer and knew that all the information described in his daughter’s diary could be useful for publishing them and letting the world know what his family had lived in the first two years of the Second World War.
After a few months, Anne’s diary was a success, starting with 1,500 copies in 1946 and later with more than 20 million copies and translated into 55 different languages for the year 1960. Anne became a symbol for the millions of Jews who were victims in World War II, and also for all people who have suffered from violence, racism, or any abuse. Trying to reflect that, in life, peace and unity is fundamental to humanity.
Three interesting situations caught my attention in Anne Frank’s book. She mentions in her book “… you do not know a person until you have had a real discussion with her” and I would say that not only do you not know a person until you argue with her until you see her locked up, sick, or in serious trouble. The limiting moments of the human being are those that make us show our real character, what we are made of. Let us develop a style that can resist and show the best of itself in the worst moments. It is so true; only difficult moments that take us to the extreme limit, a human being shows his real personality.
Second, in the most horrible moments we are all the same: In the case of a great war, of suffering, great disasters, in poverty, in sickness, we are all equal. Ana Frank commented how in her “previous” life they were rich, lived in opulence, and how that life of privileges had vanished as if it were a distant dream that would never return. No matter how rich, famous or important you are, when misfortune comes, you are just like others, and you have nothing left but to find inner happiness, that we forget thinking you are “out there.” Hence, we also learn to live with humility regardless of the conditions in which we live or the material things we have.
Moreover, finally, in the awkward moments of life are to continue preparing: What has called my attention most of the Diary of Anne Frank is that of the eight people who were locked up none stopped reading books and developing themselves. Some more than others, but all continued to educate themselves, Anne Frank herself describes that she studied “French, English, German and Dutch shorthand, geometry, algebra, history, geography, art history, mythology, biology, biblical history, Dutch literature, biographies, history books and sometimes novels and books of relaxation. ”
Maybe this can give us to understand why most of the European countries were arise from the Second World War and many are a world power, many of its citizens have the mentality that the most challenging moments are an excellent opportunity to continue improving as a human being and person.
The book of Anne Frank teaches us also the true confinement is in our mind, we never value the opportunity to see the blue sky and breathe fresh air until we no longer have it, and that happiness is closer than we imagine and in the small things of life. We can put ourselves in place of Frank’s family and criticize the way they chose to live those two years, but that 13-year-old girl has taught and shown with words more than many of us learn all our lives.