Anne Frank’s Story More Relevant Than Ever
Last week, I had the opportunity to visit the Anne Frank House in Amsterdam. I was quite unprepared for what I found there.
We arrived a bit before our scheduled appointment for touring the home–note that tickets are sold only online–we were quickly allowed inside. It appears that about 200 people per hour visit the Frank sanctuary.
As we moved silently through the home, each person carrying personal audio tour equipment, no one spoke above a whisper–and then only infrequently. As we moved from the building’s business space where Otto Frank’s employees worked–generally without knowing the family was hiding in secret rooms above–into the secret annex where the family had lived for two years, the audio track suspended.
In the rooms where the family silently spent their days, we said nothing. We heard nothing. We saw. We pondered. We felt. Depending on our circumstances, I think everyone asked ourselves one of two questions:
If needed, who would hide me and my family?
If necessary, would I be willing to hide a family?
Some Jewish writers have said it is a nearly universal “game” that their children “play” to ask who among their friends would hide them if it were again necessary. Others of us, as we passed through, asked ourselves, if we have the mettle needed to risk privilege, property and freedom to protect a family facing the risk of death.
Photo of Anne Frank at the children’s memorial at the Jewish cemetery in Warsaw, Poland
As you know, in the end, the Frank family and their friends were discovered in the secret annex. Just months before Holland was liberated, the Franks were sent to concentration camps. Anne was murdered at Auschwitz.
Everyone who left the house also left wondering, could this happen again? There are signs of increasing racial and religious prejudice in the world, some of which are being institutionalized–such as the ban on immigration from certain Muslim-majority countries to the United States.
At this point, I have no answer to the latter question. Only time will tell. For my part, I seek to become the sort of person who would risk my privilege, property and freedom to protect the lives of “others.”