Category Archives: History and Context

Special LIFE magazine; Future Memorial and Museum

(I have not been able to get into my website or blog recently and I finally asked the library to fix this lack of access. They had an answer right away.)

Several weeks ago, at the grocery store, I noticed and bought a special LIFE magazine about Anne Frank on the 70th anniversary of her diary’s first publication. It is no longer available at my grocery store, but it may be at yours. The magazine bar code states, “display until 8/11/17,” so they must have sold out.  Heartening to know there is still interest in Anne and her life story.

Amazon has it. Here is the full title ( does not allow links to amazon) for you to search in google: LIFE Anne Frank: The Diary at 70: Her Life and Her Legacy. It’s good and they name a few people I had not known of before. I should add them to my people pages. That will take a while as this site is on the back burner these days.

Some bits of news in here I didn’t know about: a future museum and a memorial (I’ll brief you on them below). The magazine goes over Anne’s entire life and legacy, though not going into great detail about the content of her diary. Curiously, the magazine makes no mention of the play, ANNE, which ran its course in Amsterdam and closed. My Netherlands contact tells me the Anne Frank Fonds is looking for new cities to host the well-done, expensive, and technically advanced production.

In Amsterdam‘s former Jewish Quarter, there is a plan for a Dutch Holocaust memorial, designed by Daniel Libeskind. I found an article in the New York Times about it. If and when it gets through the entire approval process, it will have many spaces to walk in, all made of bricks with Dutch victim names laser-etched on (Jewish and otherwise). The project’s web site includes a well-done computer simulation of the park-like memorial. In the meantime, there is the Joodsmonument online. It only has the Jewish victims.

Anne was born in Frankfurt and spent the first few years of her life there. In Frankfurt, the Frank Family Centre is set to open in 2018. It sets out to present Anne’s family history, in the context of the times and place, out to the larger world, through the Holocaust. There are many artifacts (artwork, documents, furniture) that will be on display: Anne’s ancestors first came to Frankfurt as early as the 1500s.

Back to the LIFE magazine. They appropriately bring up the relevance of Anne’s story today. There are millions of refugees today and more trying to flee violence. Anne was a refugee. Her father’s diligence and ingenuity gained his family refuge to the Netherlands. After about 10 years, when the Nazis violently took over that country, he sought refuge in other countries, including the US. He was not granted refuge, and he turned to hiding the family. The magazine fails to mention the complications of how many more people live in Europe today (almost double, by a quick online search), and the ongoing terrorist acts committed by people claiming the faith of most of the refugees. Anne’s story nonetheless does ask us to think about our position on the refugee crisis.

“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!

Anne Frank diary documentary

The Magic of The Diary of Anne Frank will air on the Denver area’s alternative Public Broadcasting System station, channel 12.1 at 7PM on Wed, May 18th. It lasts an hour. The link below includes a 30-second promo. It sounds like a talking heads documentary with a lot of old photos and other such context presented. People, including famous people, speak about what her diary means to them. [8-1-2016 I liked this very good documentary, it was much better than the trite commentary I pessimistically expected. SM]

After that documentary, Run Boy Run (2014) will air (8pm): it is a dramatization of a true story of a young Jewish refugee during WWII (length: about an hour 2 hours). It is closely based on the 2003 novel of the same name, which itself is based on a true story. The boy was only 9 years old and on his own in Nazi-occupied Poland. [8-1-2016 It was very intense and compelling. I highly recommend it. A note is it’s all in Polish, with English subtitles. SM]–The&id=120160518190000

Here is a link to more info on Run Boy Run:

If you are not in the Denver area: though don’t see a full length video of either movie online, I do see Run Boy Run in my public library as a DVD. You can check your library (and interlibrary loan) if interested in that documentary.

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.