Saturday, May 15, 2010

Anne Frank 5.11.10

I was so young when I first read Anne Frank: The Diary of a Young Girl. I suppose I could figure out exactly when I read it, because afterwards I tried writing my diary to a fictional friend. It just sounded stupid, so I stopped after a while. Reading those few entries to "Dear Kitty" or "Cassandra" or whatever random name I chose still makes me cringe.

Other than the terrible journal-writing technique I gleaned from the book, I can honestly say that reading that book changed me.

Until reading about Anne's life, I didn't really understand the possibilities of man's inhumanity to man. I didn't really understand that hatred could go so far and that evil could be aided by so many seemingly decent human beings. Since my first reading of Anne Frank, I've done lots of reading of memoirs written by people who have learned these terrible lessons firsthand. Rwanda, the Chinese Cultural Revolution, Cambodia, Yugoslavia...there are so many shocking things that have taken place in this world. They've happened in THIS world, the one where I spend my time taking my children to piano lessons, watching Josh kick a ball on a lush green soccer field, where I walk into a grocery store and take my time choosing the perfect apples out of dozens of apples, and my biggest complaints are honestly miniscule when looked at with the horrors of war as a backdrop.

So when Josh had to choose a book from the timeframe of WWII, there was really no contest. I knew he had to read Anne Frank. And as a perfect addition, the Salt Lake City Library had an exhibit based on Anne's life that ended just as he was finishing the book and discussing it in class. So I packed up the kids after school and we headed downtown.

The exhibit's main section was a timeline: Anne Frank's life on the bottom and the rise of Hitler and the events of the Holocaust and the war on the top. The pictures, the life events, the knowledge that her life would be taken so early by such was all so much to take in.

Sophie knew little about WWII before the exhibit. I told her more about it before we went so that it wouldn't be as shocking. But as we walked through the panels, detailing the changes that occurred with Hitler in power, then seeing the pictures of people in concentration camps, then finding out that Anne died only a month before the Allied forces freed the prisoners from Bergen-Belsen, I saw her lose a little innocence. I wish we lived in a world where that innocence never had to be lost, but I'm grateful she can learn those lessons in a library, not hiding in an annex.

And Kate and Ben? They happily sat on a couch reading books together in a library in a country where liberty is so often taken for granted. We can go to a library and read books on any imaginable subject. We can practice our religion; any religion. We can disagree with our leaders, even in a big public gathering, without fear of recrimination. We are so so blessed to be part of this amazing nation. We are so so blessed to be a part of a democracy where disagreement is part of the big picture, where the ebb and flow of leadership is secured by peaceful processes.

I only hope we can find a way to protect those less fortunate and that our world can learn to fear less and love more.


Gaylene said...

Perfect! Keith and I saw this same exhibit at BSU when we were dating and I bawled for days. I remember reading this in High School and being appalled, but still not understanding the entire concept. Then as we age and find out the real horrors of this world, your innocence is taken to another level. I have an old patient that we had that just died from Parkinsons that was part of the Three Against Hitler. He was the kindest, hardest working, most insightful person that one could meet and as he told us of the concentration camps and the wrongs that were taken out on them, I lost more of that innocence. I would hope that the world never comes to that as a whole and I agree with you that it is nice to go, do, say, and practice how we would like to and not be ostrasized for those beliefs.

Emilia said...

Well said. :)

Danielle said...

Kerri, I just love how you write.

We have been reading Anne Frank at our house too. Then last month Masterpiece Classic had a WONDERFUL version; I highly recommend it.

rhae said...

I also loved going to this exhibit with the children in Siobhan's class. I loved how the docent helped to make connections between what was happening in Anne's life and the war and then bringing it to a personal level and how things like this start.

Amber said...

I have been thinking about taking my kids to the Holocaust museum here. I too think about the beautiful sky I see everyday is the same sky millions of people suffer under everyday. When I was on Study Abroad in Vienna, we visited a Concentration Camp, and I have never been so crushed physically and emotionally by the weight of history.

Malisa said...

Very, very well written.

tonandboys said...

You have such a gift with words. Beautiful! I loved the exhibit as well. The movie was my favorite part. It always strikes me that life was beautiful, comfortable, and totally normal in Holland, even as the war unfolded. It is overwhelming that no one ever comprehended it fully, even as it was unraveling. I am so grateful for those who had the foresight and courage to write these things down.

Camilla said...

That is so cool that the exhibit coincided with the finish of the book. Great words and thoughts. THanks for sharing.