Tuesday February 20, 2018
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Remembering Anne Frank : The young girl who continues to move our hearts

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AF!

By Meghna

Not many people know how it feels to be in the midst of war, but many claim to have experienced it vicariously through vivid accounts of the awful suffering of the Jews during World War II, as described in The Diary of a Young Girl by Anne Frank.

On this day in 1929, the famous teenage author and the holocaust witness of World War II, Anne Frank was born at the outskirts of Frankfurt, Germany, into an upper-middle-class- German-Jewish family.

Even as a child, Frank was a girl blessed with powers of creativity, wisdom, depth and emotion.

She chronicled the events of Second World War in her diary with such vividness, that even today the readers continue to live through her experiences vicariously. The intense thoughts expressed in her writing forces people to meditate about the impact of violence on children.

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“I don’t believe that the big men, the politicians and the capitalists alone are guilty of the war. Oh, no, the little man is just as keen, otherwise the people of the world would have risen in revolt long ago! There is an urge and rage in people to destroy, to kill, to murder, and until all mankind, without exception, undergoes a great change, wars will be waged, everything that has been built up, cultivated and grown, will be destroyed and disfigured, after which mankind will have to begin all over again.”                                                                                         –Anne Frank

This is best expressed by her father, Otto Frank, who, upon discovering her diary, exclaimed, “There was revealed a completely different Anne to the child that I had lost. I had no idea of the depths of her thoughts and feelings.”

Though Anne Frank lived an extremely short life of 16 years, but even in such a short life span, she endured far more suffering than any teenager could possibly do.

From being uprooted from her roots- Germany, to being hopeful about finding a new home in Amsterdam and then, witnessing the bitter shattering of those hopes; Frank underwent all sorts of trials and tribulations.

During the two years Frank family spent in hiding upon the invasion of Netherlands by the Nazis, Frank wrote her diary extensively. She mainly wrote to pass the time and also to confide in her diary whatever she couldn’t tell her family.

Some entries in the diary give glimpses of the depths of despair which Frank occasionally sank into.  On February 3rd, 1944, she wrote, “I’ve reached the point where I hardly care whether I live or die.” “The world will keep on turning without me, and I can’t do anything to change events anyway.”

Young Anne along with her family was shipped off to Camp Westerbork, a concentration camp in North-eastern Netherlands, upon the discovery of their hiding place by the Nazis.

They were again transferred to the death camp in Auschwitz, where the Frank girls and their mother were separated from Otto Frank.

The young Frank girls, later on, were again shifted to a concentration camp in Bergen-Belsen in Germany and their mother was forced to be left behind in Auschwitz.

The condition of the concentration camps was pathetic with several infectious diseases being prevalent.

Anne Frank and her sister Margot succumbed to an outbreak of typhus in Bergen-Belsen in March 1945.

Indeed, the world didn’t stop turning after Anne Frank died, but the horrors which she experienced still continue to sway the readers globally.

Her diary is still read widely and will continue to be read by millions and millions of readers all across the world.

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Displaced Villagers Return to Old Mosul Only to Find Destruction, Danger and Dead Bodies; Returnees Claim ‘Even Soldiers Stay Indoors After Dark’

The wreckage from a few of the destroyed homes has been cleared away as a handful villagers visit their homes in Old Mosul, which has been completely destroyed following a battle against the ISIS

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Old Mosul
Abd Elaam is one of the only people living in the Old Mosul in Iraq, where the destruction has been compared to World War II Dresden, Aug. 27, 2017.
  • Old Mosul has been completely shattered in the battle to recapture the city from Islamic State militants
  • About 900,000 people have been displaced by the battle for Mosul, and many neighborhoods have been completely destroyed by war
  • Areas around the village are slowly being re-populated, but many places are entirely without services like trash collection, electricity, and running water

Mosul, September 5, 2017 : “All you can hear at night is the sound of broken doors flapping in the wind,” says Abd Elaam, a 50-year-old furniture maker. “Even soldiers stay indoors after dark.”

Elaam is currently one of the very few civilians living in Old Mosul, an ancient neighborhood shattered by the battle to recapture the city from Islamic State militants. Like many families that survived IS rule, he says, his resources are completely exhausted by the war and he has nowhere else to go.

Other families trickle in by day, looking to repair their broken homes or recover the bodies of their dead loved ones. But even during daylight hours, the neighborhood is dangerous, riddled with bombs and an unknown number of militants hiding out in the vast network of tunnels under the tightly-packed buildings and piles of rubble. The level of destruction has been compared to World War II Dresden.

 

Old Mosul
About 900,000 people have been displaced by the battle for Mosul, and many neighborhoods like Mosul’s Old City have been completely destroyed by the war, July 9, 2017. (H. Murdock/VOA)

“A IS militant came out of one those houses two weeks ago,” Elaam says, gesturing towards another dusty, broken street. “He blew himself up near two families. They were all injured and the bomber was cut in half.”

The militant’s body, like other fallen IS fighters in Old Mosul, was shoved under the rubble to reduce the smell of rot in the 45 degree-plus weather. When Iraq declared victory over IS in early July, the bodies of dead militants lay scattered in buildings and on the streets of nearly every block. Authorities searched through giant piles of concrete, once homes, for the remains of civilian families. But, they said, the only government department responsible for the IS bodies was garbage collection.

 

Old Mosul
Bodies of IS fighters lie in the rubble of Old Mosul on nearly every block, while the bodies of families killed in airstrikes have to be dug out from under the demolished buildings in Mosul, Iraq, July 9, 2017. (H. Murdock/VOA)

Old Mosul is far from re-establishing city services like trash pickup. There is no running water, electricity or businesses open. Yet other families are following Elaam’s lead, and plan to return to their homes as soon as possible.

“In a few days I will move back and bring my family,” says Ghanem Younis, 72, resting on a beige plastic chair in a sliver of shade. “If they provide electricity and water, everyone would come back.”

Younger men and children squat around Ghanem, recalling the isolation of the final months of the battle that began late last year. “We couldn’t go more than 50 meters from our front doors,” says Sufian, a 27-year-old unemployed construction worker. “We spent our time sitting right here with Uncle Ghanem.”

 

Old Mosul
Residents of Old Mosul say homes left standing after months of heavy fighting are often ransacked as soldiers search for bombs and IS fighters hiding in tunnels under the city. (VOA)

But it is not sentiment driving some families home despite the dangers, adds Elaam, as more neighbors join the conversation.

“People cannot stay with friends and relatives forever,” he says. Camps for those displaced are also crowded. “No one has anywhere else to go,” he adds.

Airstrike Damage

A few blocks away, outside the checkpoints that cut off the Old City, the Zanjelli neighborhood is slowly being repopulated.

Old Mosul
Areas around Old Mosul are slowly being re-populated, but many places are entirely without electricity, running water and other city services, like trash collection. (VOA)

 

Construction workers build a market to replace one destroyed in airstrikes, while the owners of what was once a shoe store paint the shelves, hoping to re-open in the coming weeks. The wreckage from a few of the destroyed homes has been cleared away, and the bodies of many of the dead are now buried in graveyards.

In less than five minutes of conversation, at least three people tell us about family members, including toddlers, killed in airstrikes in the last months of battle.

“There was an IS sniper firing from next to my house and the airstrike hit us,” says Youseff Hussain, 35. “Fifteen members of my family were killed.”

 

Old Mosul
Iraqi search parties looking for survivors and the remains of dead civilians in Old Mosul. (VOA)

Rebuilding the neighborhood, adds Hussain, is made doubly frustrating by the fact that it was Iraq’s allies, including the United States, who destroyed many of their homes as they battled IS from the air.

Many locals say the sacrifice of property and lives may have been necessary to prevent the city, then under siege, from total starvation. But after bearing the brunt of the war with IS, largely considered a global threat, residents say they thought the international community or the government would help them rebuild.

The only aid families here get right now, Zanjelli residents say, is Iraqi military rations, as soldiers share their food.

“There is nothing they can do to pay us back for what we have lost,” says Hussain. “But shouldn’t we at least get refunded for our property?” (VOA)