Sign In Forgot Password

 Words from the heart written by Marvin Meisler in commemoration of Kristallnacht (Nov 10, 1938)

11/10/2017 05:48:06 PM

Nov10

by Marvin Meisler

ANNE FRANK, IF NOT FOR THE GRACE OF GOD


V'Yis gadal, V'Yiskadash, shamay rabah, boruch hu...................As I entered into the hiding place of Anne Frank, and for seven other poor souls, during the Nazi era, during the Second World War, I found myself automatically reciting the Hebrew prayer one recites after a loved one dies.

I was weak in the knees, trembling with sadness, my insides crumbled and I became overcome. Now, overwhelmed with despair and loss. I no longer could control my grief, nor did I want to.
My mind wandered to the plight of the Syrian refugees, the image of the dead young child, washed ashore on some Mediterranean beach, that we have seen of late on social media.

The agnostic that I am, prayed anyway for their souls to rest in peace, the tears rolling down my cheeks, uncontrollably.
This was my third time in Amsterdam. I had made it to the entrance of the Anne Frank house twice before, but somehow, always made some excuse not to enter. Too tired, steps too steep, maybe not worth it, I know all about the Holocaust, who needs to deal with it, again?
Well, I was ready this time. I needed to face it full on, I needed to never forget. No more excuses, yep, it was time.

After the initial tears abated, I said to myself, here but for the grace of God, go I.
How fortunate I was to be born in the Bronx in 1941, and not in Europe. Maybe, just maybe, I would not be writing this as I lost 67 relatives in the gas chambers of Auschwitz. I might have been number 68?
I thought of my great aunt and uncle, both were physicians in Paris, France. For all the good they did, they were rounded up, transported to the “ Vel d’Ive,” put in cattle cars, trains on special tracks leading to death camps, and then gassed to a horrible and slow death upon arrival, along with 6 million other Jews.

As I climbed up the steep stairs and viewed the horror of 8 human beings, all being cooped up like rats for years, I could only imagine the terror of being discovered by the most horrible criminal sociopaths of my lifetime, Adolph Hitler and his cohorts.
The only thing Anne Frank owned was the courage to have hope.
Having seen and experienced other holocaust venues, this one was the most personal. It felt personal, as it had a face on it for me, this time.

Being a Jew, with all the meaning therein, really hit home, emotionally.
I was able to explore all the nooks and crannies of that old warehouse, where they hid. I read all the displayed literature, viewed all the old photos and the diary.
At the bottom level, I sat and reflected. The sadness became ever heavier on my chest. My breathing deepened and my already reddened eyes welled up with tears once again.

My mind was in a whirl, bathed in questions I could not answer. I was bereft with despair as well as anger.
All the whys and why nots danced in my head. Why do we Jews assimilate, why do we trust, why do we deny our roots, can this happen again???
Then the realization that the Nazis along with their collaborators, the Poles, the Ukrainians, the Croatians, the Vichy, et al, were all complicit.
The only crime committed was that we were Jews. Nothing more, nothing less.
However, we were not the only victims. Those sons of bitches killed 20 million people/priests, nuns, gay people, gypsies, etc.
The difference was, only the Jews were being annihilated for just being who they were. Pure genocide.

I tried to analyze it. It was mind-boggling, how could this be?
Did it have its roots as Jews being blamed as Christ killers?
Or perhaps that the bad economics of the Weimar Republic needed a scapegoat?
I walked away feeling it was all wrong, no matter whom, no matter what!
That horror reinforced my feelings that Israel needs to exist for us, and thrive. Jews always need a place to run to, a place that we can or could, always call home, our safe room. Relieved and grateful that she is there for me.
And in all fairness, the Palestinian people need and deserve a homeland as well, where they can live and thrive.
And it is my great hope, that that will be realized during my lifetime.

Hopefully, there might be some semblance of peace somewhere in this existence, that we call life on earth.
When we returned to the Bed and Breakfast where we were staying in the beautiful Dutch countryside, we had a brief visit from the owner. He was bringing in our breakfast for the next morning.
We mentioned the Anne Frank House visit, followed by some light banter about the Netherlands and her involvement in the Second World War.
I would venture a guess and say he was born after the debacle. He appeared as a clean-cut sort of guy, very pleasant with a nice nature.
Ed, my spouse, happened to mention that last year I finally relented and visited Germany for the first time in my life. Prior to then, I vowed never to set foot on German soil. Well, I decided it was time to give it a try, and I did and enjoyed it. I was trying my best to rationalize the past, trying to forgive, to move forward, to heal, for my own benefit.
Our conversation refocused again on Anne Frank, bringing it back to the heart of the matter.

In any case, our host said " well, it was just the work of one Austrian madman. "
I was immediately reflecting on the German masses, in newsreels, arms outstretched, all screaming "seig heil"...........

 

Mon, December 10 2018 2 Tevet 5779