Sometimes as a writer you have to look for a topic to write about, while other times the topic is put in front of you on a silver platter. As the son of Holocaust survivors, more specifically Holocaust survivors from Holland, with the existing quarantine we live in and the continuing conversations about Anne Frank that some seem to think is relevant to our current state of affairs, I have been presented with that aforementioned silver platter.
It’s been somewhat fascinating to me and even more alarming that there are people out there who feel being quarantined in the comfort of their own home, with food to eat, entertainment available, the freedom to leave their house without fear of being killed by a ruling force is comparable to what Anne Frank experienced. Those among us who are most likely to commemorate Holocaust Remembrance Day are sufficiently educated to the point where we understand how wrong that thought process is. For me, this whole discussion takes me back to last July when I spent 6 days in Amsterdam and had the ceremony where we retrieved the violin that belonged to my uncle who was murdered in Auschwitz. BRAM’S VIOLIN
I have a confession to make. In all my trips to Holland, including last summer, I have never visited the Anne Frank house. This is not because I do not recognize its importance, nor is it not because I do not recognize the tragedy of her life, but more because, having been raised by a mother who was in essence, as she put it herself, the Anne Frank that lived, it was not as important for me to go there as it is for others. However, while there last summer it was somewhat prevalent in my thoughts, because while taking in much of what Amsterdam has to offer, and looking at what people called the tourist attractions, Anne Frank’s house was often mentioned. While I recognize the importance it has to society, there too lies the problem. For so many all it really is is a tourist attraction.
It may be very powerful and accurate in its presentation. Having never been there it would be inappropriate for me to say otherwise. For me the issue is not in what Anne Frank’s house is designed to be, it is more about how people choose to look at it. And it so clearly is relevant in the discussion that has recently emerged when using it as a frame of reference. In fairness, if people use it as a comparison without mocking or purposely minimizing Anne Frank’s plight, they are guilty of only one thing. Ignorance. And to be even more direct, if so many are ignorant, they are not the guilty ones, we are. Decent people who understand things incorrectly are people willing to listen and learn. People who are sad, depressed and scared over our current state of affairs should not be criticized or ridiculed for their feelings, but if they incorrectly compare themselves to a 13 year old girl who could never leave the house in fear of being killed by Nazi soldiers, was stuck in small quarters with her family with minimal amounts of food, and ultimately died of disease in a concentration camp designed to ultimately kill Jews, it is our sacred responsibility to educate them.
Much of our cry of “Never Again” has appropriately been directed at those who are evil and would be prone to once again partake in the mass murder of Jews and other groups different from them. But if this quarantine we are in and the reaction of a segment of the population has taught us anything, “Never Again” also means we must educate and, to use some very relevant words in today’s world, “mitigate the disease” known as ignorance.
May the memories of the 6 million be blessed and let us never forget.
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