Four years after Anne Frank was born in the city of Frankfurt, Germany, Adolph Hitler came to power. Shortly thereafter, Otto Frank began to have concern for his family. You see, the Franks were Jewish, and it soon became apparent that Jews did not fit into Hitler’s grand scheme for a master race. Thinking that they were escaping the increasing hatred against the Jews, the family fled to Amsterdam.
Then in May, 1940, the Nazis marched onto Holland, and the feeble resistance of the underground quickly collapsed. The Nazis were in control. Within days, new regulations were issued which sought to identify Jews, and to restrict their movement. Eventually, it became illegal to befriend a Jew or to provide sanctuary for one in his home.
In June, 1942, as a birthday gift, Anne Frank was given a diary, a little book containing blank pages which were eventually to chronicle the sad days of confinement and striving to escape the fate of thousands of other Jews who were loaded into cattle cars and sent to their deaths in the concentration camps of Europe.
Otto, fearing that the time would come when his family would be forced to either board one of those ill-fated death trains or go into hiding, prepared an annex at the back of a row house on the Prinsengracht Canal—a tiny attic which could be reached by a narrow, steep stairway concealed by a bookcase.
On a warm morning in July 1942, a letter was delivered to the Frank house which forever changed their lives. Margot, Anne’s 16-year-old sister, was ordered to report to police. On July 8, Anne made an entry in her diary: “Margot is sixteen; would they really take girls of that age away alone? But thank goodness she won’t go, Mummy said so herself; that must be what Daddy meant when he talked about us going into hiding.”
For the next two years, the family existed in a tiny attic with inadequate food and sanitation. Day by day in the pages of this little book, Anne penned her thoughts, her dreams, and her despair.
On July 11, 1942, she wrote, “I can’t tell you how oppressive it is never to be able to go outdoors. I am afraid we shall be discovered and be shot. That is not exactly a pleasant prospect.”
Eventually what had been feared happened. On August 4, 1944, a truck stopped outside 233 Prinsengracht. Soldiers ran up the three flights of stairs and headed for the bookcase concealing the entrance to the attic. The family was taken to the police station, then on to Westerbork, a transit camp in Holland where Jews were held before being sent to forced labor or an extermination camp.
Sadly, the family was placed on the very last train for Auschwitz where Anne, then 16, died of typhus. Anne’s diary was left lying on the floor of the attic hiding place, and eventually it was found and has been translated into more than 50 languages for the world to see life through the eyes of a child who would never live to see the tulips of Holland bloom again in the spring. One entry in her diary reads, “What, of what is the use of war? Why can’t people live peacefully together? Why all this destruction?” Anne’s father, Otto, alone lived through the horrible ordeal. Of the 140,000 Jews living in Holland at the beginning of the war, only 30,000 survived. May God help us to remember there is but one race: the human race. If we fail to remember we are all made in the image of God, it could happen again.
Resource Reading: 2 Chronicles 32
Text: “I will gather you from all the nations and places where I have banished you,” declares the LORD, “and will bring you back to the place from which I carried you into exile.” Jeremiah 29:14
GUIDELINES with Harold Sala – September 1, 2017