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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Last Minutes with Oden: A Powerful Elegy on Love, Loss and Grief

Last Minutes with Oden: A Powerful Elegy on Love, Loss and Grief

Last Minutes with Oden is a deeply engaging, extremely heart-wrenching 6-minute documentary short film directed and edited by Eliot Rausch, in association with PhosPictures and Uber Content. The film was named Best Documentary and Best Video at the 2010 Vimeo Awards, chosen from over 6500 film and video submissions.

Last Minutes with Oden tells a story about Jason Wood (Woody), an ex-convict who is saying a final farewell to his best friend, of the man’s last minutes with his dog before he has to have it euthanized for health reasons. The documentary is a beautiful elegy that calls attention to certain heartbreaking moments most of us experience, which is an incredibly powerful reminder of the importance of family and friendships in all our lives.

The 2010 Vimeo Awards site can be viewed here.

Last Minutes with Oden: A Powerful Elegy on Love, Loss and Grief

5 Hours with Woody: Three years before “Last Minutes with Oden”

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Stonewall: The Proud Moment the Closet Door Finally Opened

Stonewall: The Proud Moment the Closet Door Finally Opened

America may finally be legalizing gay marriage in 2012, but the real beginning of the modern gay rights movement began in 1969 at NYC’s Stonewall Inn in Greenwich Village. On June 28, 1969, police officers raided the Stonewall Inn, which immediately sparked a series of violent protests. To commemorate the event, a parade is held on the last Saturday of June every year. Relive the history of the gay rights movement:

The Stone Wall Against Oppression

The First March: The Closet Door Opens

The Stonewall Riots: A Night That Changed the World

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Limbo: A Story from the Hearts and Mouths of Undocumented Young People

Limbo: A Story from the Hearts and Mouths of Undocumented Young People

Limbo is the new documentary short film directed by Eliot Rausch, created in association with Phos Pictures, which had its World Premier in New York City earlier this week. Previously, Rausch won the Best Documentary Award and the Grand Prize at the 2010 Vimeo Festival + Awards, for his short film Last Minutes with Oden. After winning the 25K Grand Prize Grant from the Vimeo Awards, Director Eliot Rausch partnered with Producer Mark Schwartz and the Dreamers of Los Angeles to create Limbo.

The emotionally moving 19-minute documentary short film exposes the lives of three undocumented students, who are living in Los Angeles without legal status. Without ever before having touched a camera, the students were gifted with a small video camera and provided with a half-day of training. They were asked to film everyday for three months. Through their lens, this is a story from the hearts and mouths of the undocumented.

Limbo: A Story from the Hearts and Mouths of Undocumented Young People

From Last Minutes with Oden to Limbo

Rausch won the Grand Prize at the first Vimeo Festival + Awards, held in late 2010, for his documentary short film Last Minutes with Oden. The film documents ex-convict Jason Wood’s emotions as he must euthanize his beloved dog, Oden, who had been suffering from cancer. Oden is a poignant, deeply touching chronicle of love between human and pet, which has been viewed on Vimeo more than 2.5 million times.

After winning the award, Rausch said that he began to feel guilty. “I think the project was exploiting the life of a friend and his suffering,” he said. So, in the months that followed, Rausch came up with the idea to use his $25,000 Grand Prize money to create a film that might empower his subjects, rather than simply chronicling their struggles.

From Last Minutes with Oden to Limbo

Update:

Hundreds of thousands of illegal immigrants who came to the United States as children will be able to obtain work permits and be safe from deportation under a new policy announced on Friday by the Obama administration.

Read President Obama’s announcement in the White House Rose Garden on Friday afternoon here.

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Stephen Murray: A Story of Incredible Suffering and Courageous Determination

Stephen Murray: A Story of Incredible Suffering and Courageous Determination

Pass The Bucket: Stephen Murray is a heart-wrenching, but very inspiring 5-minute documentary short film directed by Eliot Rausch, whose previous documentary Last Minutes with Oden was named Best Documentary and Best Video at the 2010 Vimeo Awards.

June 22, 2007 marked a day that the Action Sports world will remember for a lifetime, a day that forever changed the life of professional BMX rider and three-time U.S. Gold Medalist, Stephen Murray. During competition in the BMX Dirt Finals at the Dew Actions Sports Tour in Baltimore (MD), while in the midst of doing a double back flip, Murray had what has been described as one of the worst crashes ever seen in BMX competition. In that catastrophic tragedy, the incredibly talented 27 year-old athlete suffered career ending injuries to his spinal cord, which left him paralyzed below the shoulders.

Almost four years later, Murray’s life has changed drastically. Fully paralyzed, Stephen now lives a different reality, but he has come to view it as a platform to help others. He continues to embrace each day and in his own words, “stay strong.” In the documentary, Murray describes the accident he endured, the changes to his life as a result of it and what enables him to continue fighting. And in true Stephen Murray fashion, his strength and perseverance continues to inspire. Stay strong.

Through his Stay Strong Foundation and courageous determination, Stephen surprisingly has found a powerful way to pass the bucket. Viewers can find more information about Murray’s foundation here.

Stephen Murray: A Story of Incredible Suffering and Courageous Determination

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Classic Bump n’ Grind: The Old Time Burlesque

Classic Bump n’ Grind: The Old Time Burlesque

Long before strippers started twirling on shiny brass poles in G-strings, men would get goofy watching women twirl their pasties at the old-timey burlesque shows.  America’s big cities often had dozens of burlesque theaters that featured bodacious babes in barely-there costumes, at least until prudish city officials started banning the shows.  But with the neo-burlesque movement coming back into vogue, and with Christina Aguilera and Cher co-starring in the new movie, Burlesque, here’s a fond look back at the heyday of burlesque.

Old Time Burlesque: Put Your Hands Up For Detroit

Variety Girls: The Old Time Burlesque Dancers

Slide Show: Classic Bump n’ Grind/The Old Time Burlesque

(Please Click Image to View Slide Show)

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This Kingdom: For the Broken, the Helpless and the Outcast

This Kingdom: For the Broken, the Helpless and the Outcast

This Kingdom is a heart-wrenching documentary short film by Eliot Rausch, whose previous documentary Last Minutes with Oden was just named Best Documentary and Best Video at the 2010 Vimeo Awards.  This Kingdom captures a short moment in the life of Brian Wolke, his wife, his young child and their current obstacle in life.  Living in Compton, California, Brian has got no work and is forced to move out of the family’s home, shifting all of their belongings into storage.

This is such a terribly heartbreaking film; you have to feel for these people and what they are going through right now.  In our present times, many people are finding themselves in the same position as that of Brian and his family, so interest this film should be very high.

This Kingdom: For the Broken, the Helpless and the Outcast

(Best Viewed Here in HD Full-Screen Mode)

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