Anne Frank: Story Of A Young Girl
Anne Frank’s diary reaches a place within all of our hearts because it reminds us how easily the innocents can suffer.
Sometimes we may choose to close our eyes or look the other way when unjustifiable things happen in our society and Anne’s tale reminds us that ignorance, in part, claimed her life.
Sadly, her story is but one of many of those who died in the Holocaust and as with other Jews, her fate was determined by the country she lived in, her sex and her age. Jews all over Europe feared for their lives and many were aware that the punishment for their religion depended on the country they were fortunate, or unfortunate, enough to live in.
Hitler not only held prejudice against Jews, homosexuals, gypsies and those who harboured any of the above, but also held firm convictions that some countries’ citizens were fit to die, no matter their religion.
No one was hit harder by this prejudice as was Poland.
Hitler hated all Polish citizens and hated Polish Jews even more.
In Warsaw, Jews were confined to a blocked off area which came to be known as the Warsaw Ghetto.
Many of these Jews never saw outside the Ghetto again and for those who did it was only en route to a concentration camp or labour prison.
Food rations inside the Ghetto were very low and though many outsiders smuggled food in, there was not nearly enough to keep everyone alive.
Many died of starvation or died due to illness they had contracted because their bodies had grown so weak.
Throughout the war, Sweden remained neutral and many Jews from neighbouring countries were smuggled in.
Nazi police soon realized that they had to find ways to prevent this from happening and turned to the animal world.
Dogs were trained to detect the scent of humans and soon, all boats leaving for Sweden were searched to detect any Jews that were hiding in basement compartments.
Most Jews were discovered before they could escape and this discouraged many more from attempting to do the same.
Jews that were apprehended were not treated much differently by the Nazis but the Jews left behind received the brunt of the their anger.
Danish Jews in particular were often accused of planning to escape because of their proximity to Sweden.
There are stories of countless Jews who were sent to concentration camps even if no proof existed.
There was so much to be afraid of that many Jews devised new ways avoid death and found hiding places in the least obvious of places.
Many of these secret homes were on busy streets that Nazis patrolled frequently.
Anne Frank’s family was one of these Jews and took up residence in the hidden rooms above her father’s former office.
As the end of the war neared, Nazi soldiers began to get worried and cared less about apprehending Jews than they did about killing the ones they already had taken as prisoner. Since the Nazi soldiers were male, they treated men and women prisoners in their camps with a significant amount of difference.
Prisoners were forced to do pointless yet challenging labour for an indefinite time before they were sentenced to death.
Upon arrival at the camps, Jews were divided into two different groups; one would group would live and the other would be sent to the gas chambers immediately.
The labour intensive tasks proved to be quite brutal for women since they were not accustomed to such duties.
Even pregnant women were not spared and many women miscarried because the hard labour had killed their unborn child.
Those babies who were born were almost inevitably taken immediately and killed.
There was no privacy in these camps and the women were continually being eyed by the lonely, watching soldiers.
Some women were beaten or sexually harassed while in the camps and could do nothing to stop the horror.
Their husbands, brothers and fathers were either dead or in a different part of the camp and could offer them no protection.
Most men would never know the trauma their loved ones endured because they would never see the female members of their families again, anyway.
Even those Nazi soldiers who did not stoop to raping or molesting female prisoners were likely to give special treatment to particular members of the opposite sex.
Guards were far from their own families and grew very lonely in the long months of the war.
It was not uncommon for them to meet very small children who would remind them so much of their own children that they would do the child special favours.
Most families hoped for this to happen to their children because the child had less work to do, more to eat and they hoped that death was less imminent.
Attractive women often had a definite advantage because they could bargain with the soldiers and were less likely to be beaten when making a request.
Many men who pleaded for the release of their families were nearly beaten to death for the stupidity of the request or given false hopes.
Soldiers were quite happy to beat male prisoners for any offense but those guarding the women section of the camp were more reserved.
The discrepancies in the equality of their treatment mattered little in the long run and though women may have been slightly more comfortable, concentration camps could never be considered pleasant.
Children were the real victims of the war and many could not understand why whispers of concentration camps and labour prisons lingered in the air for so long.
Many children lost their fathers or other members of their family and felt like they had done something to cause the misery their family was undergoing.
They had more to lose than their lives and even those who survived were robbed of the essence that made them children.
No longer were they allowed to be naive and innocent, children were expected to be as worldly and mature as adults in many situations.
Children in prison labour camps worked as hard as their parents and could be separated from their entire families.
The chosen few were taken under Nazi control because Hitler realized how susceptible children were.
They were too young to understand the impact of what was happening and had no one to teach them proper values and ethical behaviours.
Hitler created many Youth Groups which were designed to teach children the beliefs of the Nazi Party.
Children could be taken from their homes and brought to the camps so they could learn that their only purpose was to help the new German Empire.
As the end of the war neared, many German soldiers had been killed in battle and Hitler feared for the declining population.
He ordered his army to snatch as many foreign children from their homes as possible.
These children were examined by a doctor who would declare if they were good candidates for “Germanization.” Based on facial features, height, weight and other physical characteristics, kids were categorized according to who was more German-looking than the others.
The kids that failed the test were often sent to concentration camps even though they were not Jewish.
The chosen children were then sent to schools where they were taught about German culture, the language and how to act as a German.
After their training was complete, the children were adopted by German families and raised without any mention of their true identity.
Most host families themselves did not know the real story behind their adopted children.
When the war ended, many children did not return to their biological families because they were so young when they were stolen that they didn’t know the truth.
Many that could remember were too scared to leave or feared that their parents had already been killed.
Children were trained to lie without understanding why and the lies caused them to lose the ability to separate reality from fiction.
Children should never have been forced to deal with so much, so quickly.
They were robbed of a real childhood when they should have been encouraged to explore their surroundings.
The youth, like Anne, who grew up in World War II were tainted by these events and have undergone much more trauma than most of us can even imagine. The Holocaust will forever remain one of the most horrific events in history and it is important to remember that there were many different endings for the many different Jews affected.
It should not have mattered where the Jews lived, how old they were or the sex they were, none of them should have been persecuted in the first place.
Reflecting on the tragic events of the war, all we can do is make sure that these horrific things never happen again.BibliographyLeapman, Michael.
Witnesses to War.
Toronto, Ontario : Penguin Books Canada Ltd, 1998.Ippish, Hanneke.
Sky: A True Story of Courage During World War II.
[Place of Publication not listed] : Troll Communication L.L.C., [Year not listed, either]Friedman, Ina R.
Escape or Die.
Reading, Massachusetts : Addison-Wesley, 1982Anne Frank Center USA.
“Anne Frank Online.” The Diary of a Young Girl: The Definitive Edition & The Anne Frank Stichting, Amsterdam.
25 - 30 pages: Online.
13 November, 2001.Caspari, Nicole.
“Nicole Caspari’s Anne Frank Website.” Anne Frank: The Diary of a Young Girl.
20 pages: Online.
12 November, 2001.Anne Frank Educational Trust UK.
“Anne Frank Educational Trust UK” Rabbi Hugo Gryn C.B.E.
15 - 20 pages: Online.
Available: http://www.afet.org.uk/ 13 November