Anne Frank: Remembering Anne on Her Birthday

Anne Frank: Remembering Anne on Her Birthday

Anne Frank was born 84 years ago, on June 12, 1929. During her short 15 years, she kept a diary and wrote there sorting out her emotions, describing her crushes and despair, her desires and dreams. Anne kept the diary from 1942 to 1944, the two years that her German-Jewish family lived in hiding in Amsterdam during World War II. In August 1944, Anne, her family and the others who were in hiding with them were discovered by Nazi authorities. They were shipped off to Nazi concentration camps; Anne died in Bergen-Belsen, just weeks before it was liberated.

Historical Background Notes

Surrounded by the turmoil of Weimar Germany, Otto and Edith Frank got married in 1925, and Otto pursued an industrial career. In 1929, the year Anne Frank was born, the stock market in New York crashed, and an already unstable Weimar government was further undermined by economic depression, unemployment and inflation. In 1933, the Nazis came into power. The Franks decided to move to Amsterdam in the Netherlands, which had been neutral during World War I. The Netherlands had the reputation of being a safe haven for religious minorities. Otto Frank left for Amsterdam first and established a branch of his uncle’s company there.

Initially, Anne felt at home in their apartment at 37 Merwedeplien. She and her sisters attended school, went to the beach, and had both Jewish and Christian Dutch friends. The Frank family seemed to have made what appeared to be a good decision and were adjusting to their new life. But like so many other refugees throughout Europe during World War II, the Franks’ belief that they had a safe haven was shattered when Nazi armies violated Dutch neutrality. The Nazi bombing of Rotterdam killed 1,000 people and within five days the government surrendered under the threat of further bombings. Queen Wilhelmina and her government went into exile in London.

At first Anne and Margot were still able to socialize with their friends and attend school. However, soon the Nazi administration in the Netherlands, along with the Dutch civil service, began issuing and carrying out anti-Jewish decrees. This included stripping Jews of their rights as citizens and human beings and isolating them from their fellow Dutch citizens. Otto Frank, aware of what the Nazi decrees had done to Jews in Germany, anticipated as best he could what was going to happen to by turning his business over to his non-Jewish colleagues. Anne had to leave her Montessori School to attend the Jewish Lyceum.

The first brutal round up of 400 Jewish men and boys in Holland occurred on February 25, 1941. It was in response to earlier riots by Dutch Nazis and a counter-attack by a small Jewish resistance group. Virtually the entire working population of Amsterdam and a few other cities in the vicinity went on strike. The strike continued for two days, until the Germans broke it up by force. By 1942, the round-ups of Jews and their deportation to labor, transit and concentration camps were becoming routine. The geography of the Netherlands and the closing of its borders made escape extremely difficult. Fearful for their lives, Otto and Edith Frank prepared to go into hiding. They wanted to stay together as a family and they already had a place in mind, an annex of rooms above Otto Frank’s office at 263 Prinsengracht in Amsterdam.

The employees of Otto Frank agreed to help them. At a time when it was unusual to find anyone to help, the Franks, as Anna wrote in her diary, were “privileged” to have so many helpers and to be together. Besides business associates Victor Kugler and Johannes Kleiman, employees and friends Miep Gies, her husband Jan, Bep Voskuijl and his father were all trustworthy. They not only agreed to keep the business operating in their employer’s absence, but they would risk their lives to help the Frank family survive.

On July 5, 1942, Anne’s sister Margot received a call-up notice for a Nazi “work camp.” Although their hiding place was not yet ready, Edith and Otto Frank realized that they had to escape immediately. Hurriedly, they packed their belongings and left notes behind that implied they had fled the country. On the evening of July 6, they moved into their hiding place.

Otto Frank had made arrangements with his business partner, German Jewish refugee Hermann van Pels, his wife, Auguste, and their son, Peter, to share the annex with his family. They arrived a week later on July 13. The seven residents of the annex were joined by the eighth and final resident, Fritz Pfeffer, in November. Most families who went into hiding were all split up and moved from place to place, dependent on others for help. Many parents tried to place at least their children in hiding, and of the children who survived the war, few ever saw their families again.

Since the annex was above a business, and the buildings on either side were occupied, the eight residents had to be extremely quiet to avoid being discovered. They became a kind of extended family in the confined space of the shared rooms. The Nazi’s and their collaborators were carrying out their plan for the “final solution to the Jewish question.” The annex residents could only wait and hope. Anne wrote in her diary about the long hours of boredom and suffocation. At other times, she felt alone and misunderstood.

News was extremely important to those living in the annex; only Germany’s defeat would end the mass killing of Jews and other innocent victims. The residents constantly argued over when, and if, the war would end. At approximately 10 a.m. on August 4, 1944, Anne and the others’ greatest fear came true. Four Dutch Nazis entered the office building to catch the hidden Jews. Someone had betrayed them, but to this day no one knows who. The Nazis took the residents into custody, transported them to a prison in Amsterdam, subsequently deported them to the Dutch transit camp, Westerbrook, and then to Auschwitz.

Anne and her sister were then transported to Bergen-Belson concentration camp in Germany. At Bergen-Belson, Anne and Margot, already debilitated, contracted typhus. Margot, seventeen years old, died first. A short time later Anne, then fifteen years old, died. It was March 1945. The exact date of their deaths and where they were buried is unknown.

For interested readers, The Anne Frank Center, USA, maintains a scrapbook of her life and times.

Anne Frank’s Attic Window

Anne Frank’s Attic Window

The 150-year-old chestnut tree that comforted Anne Frank as she hid from the Nazis in the attic of the canal-side warehouse in Amsterdam was a ray of hope for the famous diary writer. The Jewish teenager remained indoors with her family for 25 months until they were arrested in August 1944. She died of typhus in the Bergen-Belsen camp in March 1945.

The attic window from which Anne Frank could see the tree was the only one that had not been blacked out. In a diary entry dated February 23, 1944, she wrote: “From my favourite spot on the floor I look up at the blue sky and the bare chestnut tree, on whose branches little raindrops shine, appearing like silver, and at the seagulls and other birds as they glide on the wind… As long as this exists, I thought, and I may live to see it, this sunshine, the cloudless skies, while this lasts I cannot be unhappy.”

The Chestnut Tree and the Attic Window

The Only Known Moving Picture of Anne Frank

Anne Frank Speaks: A Holocaust Documentary

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The Jockstrap Raiders: Heroic British Misfits Defeat Invading German Armies

The Jockstrap Raiders: Heroic British Misfits Defeat Invading German Armies

The Jockstrap Raiders is a delightfully wacky animated short film by animator Mark Nelson, which won the 2012 Student Academy Award for Best Animated Short Film. In a slightly altered version of World War I, Germany is building a bridge across the English Channel to invade Britain.

Britain’s sole hope is The Jockstrap Raiders, a former amateur rugby club for freaks and geeks, all of whom had previously been excluded from the war due to various bizarre abnormalities. The team switches balls for bombs and goes into battle aerodynamically shaved and wearing only jockstraps, becoming the heroic flying squadron that foils the invading Kaiser and his army.

The Jockstrap Raiders: Heroic British Misfits Defeat Invading German Armies

(Best Viewed in Full-Screen Mode, with Scaling Off)

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Snow Bells: The Festive Augsburg Christkindl Markt

Snow Bells: The Festive Augsburg Christkindl Markt

Snow Bells is a delightful documentary short film by Frank Glencairn, which was filmed at the 2012 Augsburg Christkindl Markt. The Augsburg Christmas Market or Christ Child Market is inspired by a 700-year-old German tradition, with its market streets and churches lined with outdoor festival huts featuring unique handmade crafts and traditional Christkindl treats.

Snow Bells: The Festive Augsburg Christkindl Markt

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A Fine Arts Video Portfolio: Decade of Nude Photography

Photography by: Alexander Paulin, Hamburg

A Fine Arts Video Portfolio: Decade of Nude Photography

Decade of Nudes is a fine arts video portfolio of nude photography by the German photographer Alexander Paulin. Since 1999, Paulin has worked as a freelance photo-designer in his studio near Hamburg, Germany. Paulin’s photography has been featured in a number of magazines, including Playboy, Maxim, Stern and Photographie, as well as in many books and calendars.

A Fine Arts Video Portfolio: Decade of Nude Photography

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Paths of Hate: The Destructive Fury of War

Paths of Hate: The Destructive Fury of War

Paths of Hate is an animated ten-minute short film directed by Damian Nenow at Platige Image, which is in the running for a 2012 Oscar for animated short films. The film was named on a list of 10 films that was released last week by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences; three to five nominees for the Oscar will be chosen from this list.

Paths of Hate contains stunning visuals that recreate a WWII-era aerial dogfight and presents a dynamic tale about the hatred that seems to be an indispensable element of human nature. Damien Nenow, a recent graduate of Poland’s Lodz Film School, has created a film of great visual power, which brilliantly shows the demons that slumber deep within the human soul and have the power to push people into the abyss of blind hate, fury and rage. The finale of the film introduces a surreal turn of events, which stands as the director’s bitter comment on the bloody destructive fury of war.

Paths of Hate: The Destructive Fury of War

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Chump And Clump: The Very Merry Bus Stop

Chump And Clump: The Very Merry Bus Stop

Chump And Clump is an acclaimed, hilariously hallucinogenic animated short film created by Stephan Sacher and Michael Herm at Germany’s Talking Animals Animation Studio. Chump and Clump meet at a bus station. Unfortunately, they have just missed their bus, which arrives only once a week. While waiting for the next bus, a bizarre and wonderfully raucous friendship develops, which still manages to prevail when all odds turn against our little heroes. Most of the great fun in this film lies in what Chump and Clump do with their eyes: the expressions in their eyes, the red capillaries when they’re hung over, smiling eyes, desperate eyes, sad eyes, crying eyes. Funny, very funny.

Chump And Clump: The Very Merry Bus Stop

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Ai Weiwei’s Interlacing: A Chinese Activist’s Photographs and Videos

Ai Weiwei, Dropping a Han-Dynasty Urn, 1995

Ai Weiwei, June 1994, 1994

Ai Weiwei, Ai Weiwei, Williamsburg, Brooklyn, 1983

Ai Weiwei, Anton Wei, Lorimer Avenue Apartment, Brooklyn, 1983

Ai Weiwei, Study of Perspective, Tiananmen, 1998

Ai Weiwei’s Interlacing: A Chinese Activist’s Photographs and Videos

Interlacing is the first major exhibition of collected works by China’s renowned dissident artist Ai Weiwei, currently on display at Zurich’s Fotomuseum Winterthur. The collection consists of an extensive selection of photographs, videos and explanatory essays that present the interweaving artist as a network, company, activist, political voice, social container and agent provocateur.

Ai Weiwei is a generalist, conceptual, socially critical artist dedicated to creating friction with/and forming reality. As an architect, conceptual artist, sculptor, photographer, blogger, Twitterer, interview artist, and cultural critic, he is a sensitive observer of current topics and social problems: a great communicator and networker who brings life into art and art into life. Ai Weiwei deliberately confronts social conditions in China and in the world in ways that have captured an international audience.

In 2003, Ai Weiwei played a major role, together with the Swiss architects Herzog & de Meuron, in the construction of the Olympic stadium, the so-called “Bird’s Nest.” Subsequently, he publicly repudiated the project and the whole Olympic buildup as a preposterous fraud to put on a “good face” for the international community. In 2007, 1001 Chinese visitors traveled, at his instigation, to Documenta 12 (Fairytale) in Kassel, Germany. In 2010, the world marveled at his large, yet formally minimal carpet of millions of hand-painted porcelain sunflower seeds at the Tate Modern.

Chinese officials announced in May, 2011, that the authorities were investigating Ai Weiwei on suspicion of tax evasion, after police officers had taken him from the main Beijing airport on April 3rd as he prepared to board a flight to Hong Kong. A global outcry went out, blasting the Chinese government for what was deemed a politically motivated move, claiming that the tax inquiry was a pretext to silence one of the most vocal critics of the Chinese Communist Party. The Chinese legal authorities finally released Ai Weiwei on June 22nd, after a three-month detention, apparently ending a prosecution that had become a focal point of criticism of China’s eroding human rights record. Nevertheless, the terms of his release may silence him for months or even years.

Ai Weiwei: Interlacing

Ai Weiwei: New York Photographs (with English subtitles)

Ai WeiWei: Never Sorry

Photo-Gallery: Ai Weiwei’s Interlacing/A Chinese Activist’s Photographs and Videos

(Please Click Image to View Photo-Gallery)

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