Category Archives: Discoveries, Research, and Speculation

Assorted research items.

“New” theory of the raid on the Annexe.. really?

The AFH has published (online) a “new” theory that the people hiding in the secret annexe may not have been betrayed at all. Frankly, there is nothing new about this theory. The serious investigators, such as Muller, did not claim that there was a betrayer, just that betrayal was one good theory. A significant reward was offered for finding hidden Jews during the German occupation of The Netherlands. The real story of the cause of the raid is unknown. People investigate possible betrayers, because it is important to find out what the real story was. Seven lives perished – why? That is the real question at the root, not a vengeance thirst. Curiosity and tenacity to find the truth is a laudable human characteristic. When we learn the truth, we have a better hope of moving forward making better choices and recognizing potential problems. The article’s point is a good one, but not nearly as dramatic or new a supposition as they present it. “But no one has cast serious doubts about the betrayal theory — until now.” Absurd.

The article:

(Thanks to both a co-worker and my NL contact for telling me about this.)

Happy New Year — here is a much more detailed look at this theory, with researchers and authors of Anne Frank books commenting about this “new” research.

Thanks to my NL contact for this link!

Extraordinary Events and Books about Them

A strange news item from a few months ago: the Anne Frank House looked into the question of when Anne died from a more scientific/medical angle than before. They placed the date of death as likely mid-February. This was published. Subsequently, many people pointed out that eye-witness testimony placed her (and Margot’s) date of death as over a month later.

So, what to make of this? I think perhaps a way to understand this is the context. They know how long it takes to die of Typhus and near-starvation for patients in controlled environments of medical facilities, or even in poor places with little or no access to medical care. Bergen Belsen was chaotic and filthy. You’d think they would last even less long. But many stories that simply amaze come out of horrific events in any era. The concentration camp inmates did have each other, did form a sense of community, along with individual special bonds. The ongoing war could always come to an end, which they held out hope for, even amid suicidal despair. We don’t know how individuals and groups find the strength to go on, much less prevail, but there are true stories of the extraordinary.

For an example of this sort of extraordinary story, In My Hands: Memories of a Holocaust Rescuer, by Irene Gut Opdyke, should be a very good example. I want to read it sometime (and I see Daedelus Books has a steep discount on it right now). Or you can pick it up at the library like I plan to someday. What she went through herself at the hands of the Nazis, you’d think she’d just be happy to save her own skin, yet she subsequently took major risks to help many Jews, despite the serious dangers this invited.

Another example is in the more popular book, Frozen in Time: An Epic Story of Survival and a Modern Quest for Lost Heroes of World War II, by Mitchell Zuckoff. One group of three stranded airmen were surviving on a glacier under their crashed plane’s wing. They got so depressed they formed a suicide pact. The other three men from their doomed flight had to dig into the ice far from there, due to the failure of a plan to get back to their base. The camp under the plane stank of fuel, their cooking spills, and their offal. They didn’t get much done. Meanwhile, the men out in the ice were remarkable. They had no protection, so they dug levels into the ice. The very bottom one was for their latrine and they made ongoing improvements to their ice home. They had other projects, too, like digging out their dead snowmobile to try to fix it.

When winter ended and the weather eased up enough for their commanders to rescue them, the first step was to move the men from the plane to the ice camp, then fly them all home. The men from under the plane wing were amazed by what their crew mates had created. They dubbed it the Imperial Hotel (IIRC). What was the difference between the two trios in how they handled their very similar situations? Inventiveness? Positivity? A mastery of the art of living? We don’t really know. Their education levels and health levels and ages were similar.

Evolution(?) of Nazi War Criminal Trials

The New Yorker Magazine has a thoughtful informative article about the pattern of WWII Nazi war criminals being handled in an increasingly punishing way, just as their numbers are appreciably dwindling. The author, Elizabeth Kolbert, shares not only her well-worthwhile thoughts about the matter of recent Nazi trials, but her family’s Holocaust history, some facts about people in the Auschwitz organization, and her own Stolperstein experience.

A Stolperstein is a small plaque installed in the sidewalk outside of the last home of Holocaust survivors, a project of artist, Gunter Demnig. Kolbert signed on to have one installed in the memory of her Great-Grandmother, Franziska Maass, of Berlin, whose life ended in Auschwitz.

(It’s possible Anne may have met her. We just don’t know. It seems unlikely. The only information known is Franziska was 62 years old in December 1942 when she was sent to Auschwitz. Though noted on arrival as able to work, it is unlikely she survived two more years to meet Anne in 1944.)

In print, the article is, “The Last Trial: A great-grandmother, Auschwitz, and the arc of justice,” by Elizabeth Kolbert, The New Yorker, Feb 16, 2015.

media/news items

Quick notes about a book, a guestbook comment on an Anne Frank House guest book, and a one-woman play (now over, but may happen annually).

Book and guest book comment: Eva Schloss, the daughter of Anne’s father’s second wife, has written a book about her own life, After Auschwitz. This article talks about the book and the guest book comment by a teen star, Justin Bieber, which has caused a stir among some. (Eva agrees with the young man, and explains why.)

Play: And apparently a US (Colorado) woman, Judy Winnick, does portrayals, kind of one-woman plays, and one is about Miep Gies, A Beacon of Hope. I got the impression (from the Canyon Courier article, unfortunately, not online) this may be an annual event or something she does in various places.

Special thanks to two special readers!!

Waiting in line for Anne Frank

My Amsterdam informant is ill in bed (get well soon!) but took the time to write to me about this amazing trailer for a documentary which is still in production. It will come to Netherlands TV at some point in the future. The trailer alone is very compelling. Teenaged girls reading excerpts from Anne’s brilliant diary help show how amazing the human spirit is, and Anne in particular, and is a good reminder to not underestimate young people. The memories of a Bergen Belsen survivor are also very compelling. All of the participants in the film are just people waiting in line to get into the Anne Frank House, stopping a moment for the filmmakers. It also looks beautifully filmed. I am looking forward to seeing this and will blog the link when it is online (assuming it becomes available online).

In other news, my informant explains (which the links below perhaps do not explain so well), that there is a new theater being built in Amsterdam’s port area. The Anne Frank Fonds is funding it. They will be putting on plays about Anne and the Holocaust and WWII and presumably the human spirit. The first is a new play about Anne, from the diary days into imprisoned times. This is pretty amazing because the Fonds is a small organization located in Switzerland. So they are branching out. It’s a good organization — bravo!—Theater-Amsterdam.html

Thanks to my watchful informant, in pain with stomach flu — Get Well Soon

12 May 2014

Here is a link to the complete documentary online. It is mostly in Dutch, but there are a few English-speakers.