Anne Frank to the Courtesy Phone
Fri Nov 12th, 2004 at 13:11:01 CDT
A letter from the 21st Century...
Dear Anne Frank,
The was one thing I was never able to puzzle out, about your story. One thing I always wanted to ask. Why didn't you leave? When things got bad. Why did you stay? Why didn't your father take you all and flee to America. You had the money. At the first sign of trouble why weren't you gone?
That question has loomed so large in my mind, lately. Because in the past few weeks I think I might finally be understanding why you simply stood, helpless, and were eaten up.
You see, I've always looked back with the luxury of seeing what happened to you. I can see the warning signs, connect the dots, and realize what was evidence and what wasn't. But when Otto, your father, looked at the same evidence, at the time, it must have been confusing. He must have wanted to see it in the best light -not wanting to dissolve into pessimism or panic unnecessarily.
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After all, it was just after the bloodiest war in history. So many people thought that after the Great War, another war was unthinkable. When Hitler rose to power in Germany, many saw a symbol of strength - the rebirth of a nation under a leader who would not flinch in the face of adversity. And for the Jews of Holland, well, as those things went, 1932 was a time when things had never been any better, historically speaking. The idea that things could slide into a horror undreamt of even in the bloody Middle Ages must have been ludicrous.
How did it start, Anne? I really need to know this. When the Germans first came. When did you and your father see it for what it really was?
You didn't have television, I know, but were radio programs censored? Did you assume that the silence of your advocates was a strategy - that they were choosing their battles wisely? Did you think that the majority of your neighbors would never let it happen? Did you ignore the hateful rhetoric as the ravings of a few extremists? Did you think if you stayed you would help to keep things sane? And when they took away your civil liberties, did you think, "That's okay. We have nothing to hide, anyway, this is targeting the criminals".
Did you think to yourselves, "We can march in the streets when it really gets bad." And when it did get bad, did your rich save themselves, and your advocates become fearful and silent, and were your leaders arrested as extremists?
And when they took some away, the gypsies and the homosexuals and the political agitators, without trial or explanation, did you think, "Well, they must be bad people - and if they are not, they will be set free"? And did you think, "this is keeping us safer, in the end." When you realized there were more, did you stay quiet because you thought it would end? Or because you didn't want them to hear you?
Anne, you once wrote ""I still believe, in spite of everything, that people are still truly good at heart..."
Anne, is that why you are dead?
HOLOCAUST TIME LINE 1933-1934
The following time line has been compiled from a variety of sources including the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington, D.C., South Carolina Voices: Lessons from the Holocaust, and others.
[The underlines are mine.]
January 30...Adolf Hitler is appointed chancellor of Germany.
February 28...The German government takes away freedom of speech, assembly, press, and freedom from invasion of privacy and from house search without warrant.
March 4...Franklin D. Roosevelt is inaugurated President of the United States.
March 20...The first concentration camp is established in Nazi Germany at Dachau. The first prisoners are political opponents.
April 1...A nationwide boycott of Jewish-owned businesses in Germany is carried out under Nazi leadership.
April 7...Jews are barred from government service; Jewish civil servants, including University professors and school teachers, are fired from their positions.
April 25...The law against "overcrowding in German schools and universities" is adopted, restricting the number of Jewish children allowed to attend. Children of war veterans and those with one non-Jewish parent are initially exempted.
May 10...Books by Jews and opponents of Nazism are burned publicly.
July 14...Laws are passed in Germany that permit the forced sterilization of Gypsies, the mentally and physically disabled, African-Germans, and others considered "inferior" or "unfit."
October 19...Germany withdraws from the League of Nations.
1933-1935...In all German schools it is officially taught that "non-Aryans" are racially inferior. Jewish children are prohibited from participating in "Aryan" sports clubs, school orchestras, and other extracurricular activities. Jewish children are banned from playgrounds, swimming pools, and parks in many German cities and towns.
August 3...Adolph Hitler declares himself president and chancellor of the Third Reich after the death of Paul von Hindenburg.
October...First major wave of arrests of homosexuals occurs throughout Germany, continuing into November.
PS: I'm sorry if this seems dark or overly dramatic, but that is the very question I am grappling with, you see. I'm frightened at what I see around me. I don't know where to draw the lines. Like Anne, I want to believe that people are really good at heart. I want to stand and fight. But I know my history.
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