The Magazine of The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America


Anne Frank, at 80


A visit to the Anne Frank House in Amsterdam, where her family hid beginning in July 1942, is profoundly moving. The concealing bookcase and rooms of hiding are preserved, as is Anne's photo collection of her favorite movie stars. She loved watching movies, but the Dutch Jews were forbidden access to theaters.

Just two years after moving into the house next to the Westerkerk, the family was betrayed and transported to concentration camps. The last entry in Anne's diary was Aug. 1, 1944. She died of hunger and typhus at Bergen-Belsen in March 1945.

A few months before being deported to the camp and with a view to the future, Anne recognized her God-given gift of writing and dreamed of becoming a journalist: "And if I don't have the talent to write books or newspaper articles, I can always write for myself. ... I want to be useful or bring enjoyment to all people, even those I've never met. I want to go on living even after my death! And that's why I'm so grateful to God for having given me this gift, which I can use to develop myself and to express all that's inside me! When I write I can shake off all my cares. My sorrow disappears, my spirits are revived! But, and that's a big question, will I ever be able to write something great, will I ever become a journalist or a writer?"

It's tragic to recall that the Bergen-Belsen camp was liberated just weeks after Anne's death. She was apparently aware that the Allied troops were drawing nearer and was hopeful that she would be able to return home one day — wherever home would be.

Although born in Frankfurt am Main in Germany, Anne spent much of her early years in the Netherlands. Therefore, she wrote her diary (Het Achterhuis or "The Secret Annex," referring to the rear part of the house where the family hid) in Dutch.

If a single word could convey Anne's character, the Dutch adjective gezellig — which connotes warmth as well as outgoing sociability — would come close. Friends described her as outspoken and energetic, demonstrating a spirit of courage and hope even amid inhumane conditions and unspeakable suffering.

When Anne was born 80 years ago this week, June 12, 1929, her family lived in the Frankfurt suburb of Dornbusch — a neighborhood with many Protestant, Roman Catholic and Jewish friends. When the Nazis assumed power in 1933, the Franks first moved to Aachen and then fled to Amsterdam. Anne gained international fame posthumously following the publication of her diary documenting her experiences during the German occupation of the Netherlands.

The diary, which was given to Anne on her 13th birthday, chronicles her life from June 12, 1942, until Aug. 1, 1944. Translated into many languages, it has become one of the world's most widely read books and has been the basis for several plays and films. Anne has been acknowledged for the quality of her writing and has become one of the most renowned and most discussed victims of the Holocaust. As her confidence in her writing grew and she began to mature, she wrote of more profound subjects such as her faith in God and her view of human nature.

In the 1950s, the city of Frankfurt commemorated an entire housing complex in neighboring Ginnheim as the Anne-Frank-Siedlung, as well as a youth conference center and a school in Dornbusch. There is also a small plaque on the building, Ganghoferstraße 24, where the Franks lived ("In diesem Hause lebte Anne Frank, geb. 12.6.1929 in Frankfurt am Main. Sie starb als Opfer der nationalsozialistischen Verfolgung 1945 im KZ-Lager Bergen-Belsen. Ihr Leben und Sterben — Unsere Verfplichtung. Die Frankfurter Jugend.").

A series of small, individual plaques (Gedenksteine) along the wall of the former Jewish cemetery in Frankfurt also commemorate Anne and the other 11,133 people of Jewish faith from that city who lost their lives at the hands of the Nazis.

Check out this week's articles:

cover3'I take thee, Zion ...': (right) Like a finely tuned marriage, these congregations have survived the years — many years.

On the line: Tennis umpires rule with fairness, integrity. 

Now what? There's a Sunday school bully: A child in my son's class is disruptive and bullies other students. What can I do? 

Attendance angst: 'I don't want to go to church.'

Also: Seizing an opportunity.

Also: 'Faith in Flux' report: Why did they leave?

Also: Serving seniors and youth.

Read these articles at our front page ...

Discuss "married" congregations

HansonJune 9-16:  Join Deborah A. Hanson (right), pastor of Bigwoods and Zion in Oslo, Minn to discuss "married" congregations.

Consider reading "I take thee, Zion ..." before joining in.

Join the discussion ...

This week on our blog:

AndreaAndrea Pohlmann (right) blogs about technology and twittering in church.

Sonia Solomonson blogs about synod assemblies.

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