Anne Frank, whose diary is a testament to the Holocaust recognized worldwide, died in March 1945. Her impact on Holocaust remembrance cannot be overstated.
For her 13th birthday, Anne received a diary. One month later, on July 6, 1942, Anne’s family moved into hiding in the empty annex of Otto Frank’s Amsterdam office. Four of Otto’s employees helped them hide: Victor Kugler, Johannes Kleiman, Elli Voskuijl, and Miep Gies.
During the next two years Anne wrote about her family, her physical and emotional development, and about how it felt to be in hiding. On August 4, 1944, they were arrested and imprisoned. Anne’s mother died in Auschwitz. Anne and her sister were moved from Auschwitz to Bergen-Belsen in October 1944, and died there in March 1945. Their father was the lone survivor from the annex.
When Otto returned from Auschwitz, Miep Gies gave him the papers she saved from the annex, including Anne’s diary. Otto published the diary in 1947, and over 70 million copies have been printed to date, in numerous languages.
Eleanor Roosevelt described Anne Frank’s diary as “one of the wisest and most moving commentaries on war and its impact on human beings that I have ever read.”
Here’s one excerpt, from Jan. 28, 1944:
“The best example of this is our own helpers, who have managed to pull us through so far and will hopefully bring us safely to shore, because otherwise they’ll find themselves sharing the fate of those they’re trying to protect. Never have they uttered a single word about the burden we must be, never have they complained that we’re too much trouble. They come upstairs every day and talk to the men about business and politics, to the women about food and wartime difficulties and to the children about books and newspapers. They put on their most cheerful expressions, bring flowers and gifts for birthdays and holidays and are always ready to do what they can. That’s something we should never forget; while others display their heroism in battle or against the Germans, our helpers prove theirs every day by their good spirits and affection.” (Courtesy of the Anne Frank Fonds, Basel, Switzerland.)
On March 8, 1972, Israel’s Holocaust museum “Yad Vashem” recognized Miep and Jan Gies as “Righteous Among the Nations” – an honor bestowed upon those courageous individuals who risked their lives to save Jews during the Holocaust.
I find comfort in the thought that in mankind’s darkest hour, there were those who acted with honor and courage.