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Before We All Forget

May 27, 2019

Another Way for week of May 24, 2019

Before We All Forget

I was privileged to see a local theater group put on the difficult play, “The Diary of Anne Frank.” As most people know, it is the true story of a young Jewish teenager hiding with her family and others during the dark days of World War II. The play is based on her actual writings in a diary her dear father presented for her 13th birthday.

Her father was a banker in Germany before emigrating to Amsterdam to escape Hitler’s campaign to kill all “undesirables” including millions of Jews. In the Netherlands Mr. Frank manufactured products used in jam. The family moved into an upstairs annex of that building, through a door hidden behind an office bookcase. A neighboring family of three also joined them in hiding, plus later another young man, eight people in all. Some Dutch employees and neighbors helped those in hiding by bringing food, supplies, and news for the more than two years they hid. The plot is gripping and disheartening although several scenes offer comic relief.

The space of the annex was not large, and in this stage portrayal, they slept on couches, chairs, the floor, and one very small bed and cot. Living with another family can be challenging in the best of circumstances, and with the tensions of the war, growing persecution, and the threat of being discovered, tempers and emotions get raw. When the mother, Edith Frank, finally loses her temper after one member of their group is caught stealing food at night which they all need and crave, the audience is spellbound as she explodes, speaking truths that need to be said. She finally gets control of her emotions and apologizes for the awful things she has said to their friends. Just one example of how even though the world is frightening and depressing, Anne’s often-quoted statement holds true: “In spite of everything, I still believe that people are really good at heart.”

The father, Otto Frank, was the only one from these families to survive the death camps; he emerged starving and too thin and weak to walk. But eventually he regained strength and lived until August 1980. Shortly before his death, he said in an interview: “I am almost ninety now and my strength is slowly fading. But the mission that Anne passed on, keeps giving me new strength—to fight for reconciliation and for human rights across the world.”

The World War II Memorial in Washington, D.C., with Stuart’s brother Nolan. Their father was wounded in the Pacific theater during WW II.

Today there are people who still don’t believe that the holocaust of Jewish people and others ever occurred. My husband accompanied his brother on a trip to Washington D.C. last fall as part of the Honor Flight organization which takes veterans and one “guardian” to tour various memorials, including the World War II veteran’s memorial there. Stuart talked to one of the greeters at the memorial and learned he had been one of the soldiers who had gone into a concentration camp to help liberate those who were still alive. Stuart asked him what he saw and experienced. The elderly veteran said he was among the first ones who went in and couldn’t believe what they found. “We were walking around, over stuff on the ground, and suddenly we realized we were walking over dead bodies. The holocaust was real and we never imagined that such things could have been happening. No one outside the system knew!”

Anne Frank’s words, written as a girl of just 14 or 15, gives us hope for our own dark places, thoughts and worries: “I simply can’t build up my hopes on a foundation consisting of confusion, misery, and death. … I think that it will all come right, that this cruelty too will end, and that peace and tranquility will return again.”

Older veterans from WW II or Korea service are mostly seated in front row wheelchairs.

This weekend we observe Memorial Day, and this year many people marked Holocaust Remembrance Day from the evening of May 1 to May 2. It is important that we remember and tell the stories of this terrible time, so that people don’t forget. For more on Anne Frank’s family visit https://www.annefrank.org/en/anne-frank/.

 

For more on Honor Flight check here: https://www.honorflight.org/ or call 937-521-2400.

 

Stuart’s oldest brother, a Vietnam war veteran (center of photo with name tag) went on a different Honor Flight trip this spring and was greeted by many family members and friends upon his return. Several WWII vets also went on Richard’s trip. (Photo courtesy of Cathy Crider.)

***

You can read more about Stuart’s father’s service here.

Your own stories? I’d love to hear from you. Send to me at anotherwaymedia@yahoo.com or Another Way Media, P.O. Box 363, Singers Glen, VA 22834.

Another Way is a column by Melodie Davis, in syndication since 1987. She is the author of nine books. Another Way columns are posted at FindingHarmonyBlog.com a week after newspaper publication.  

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8 Comments
  1. Very appropriate for Memorial Day, Melodie!

    • Thanks–makes various connections maybe. Have a good day whatever you are up to! Me, I just took a break in scrubbing our Cracker Barrell porch rockers. We enjoyed the cool night air last evening on our porch but had to use the swing, the rockers were still dusty/grimy from winter. 🙂 Lightning bugs were ecstatically busy!

  2. Kathy Miller Judy permalink

    I didn’t realize, but knew I felt a connection to your posts. I went to elementary school with Richard!

    • Interesting, Kathy; I will be sure and let him know you commented here. 🙂 It was a very meaningful trip for those involved.

  3. AnnBrandt permalink

    My husband, a veteran from the Korean War went on the Honor Flight and came back with a new faith –that our country is worth fighting for and that most folks are grateful for our military.

  4. Beverly Silver permalink

    Thank you, Melodie. L & M went to that play also and said good things about it too. Wish I hd been able to go, too! One of Mike’s plays in the past was one about a girl and Ann Frank and was called “Ann Frank and Me ! (before his Musicals era)

    • I’m sure you would have enjoyed it as well, although when I told my Mom about it, she said she feels like it would have made her too sad. Stuart too, who didn’t want to go. I went with a friend. Anyway, thanks for sharing–Blessings.

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