No one goes through life without asking the “what if” question at least once during their lifetime. This question becomes multiplied when it come to war and the loss of life that comes with war.
In the 2013 author Jillian Cantor asked this question in the book, Margot: A Novel.
It’s 1959 in Philadelphia. Margot Frank survived the war and has started a new life as Margie Franklin, living as a Gentile and working in a law firm as a secretary.
Her sister’s diary has become the darling of the publishing world. The movie, based on the book, has just been released into theaters. Margot/Margie’s carefully constructed outer shell begins to crack. While juggling PTSD and survivor’s guilt, Margot/Margie’s past come back to her via a case and an unusually strong emotional bond with her boss.
This book is amazing. When it comes to the story of Anne Frank, her elder sister is often pushed out of the spotlight. In giving Margot the spotlight, Ms. Cantor tells the story of Holocaust survivors who for any number of reasons, choose to keep their pasts to themselves. It is also the story of America in the late 50’s when antisemitism was not as obvious, but still existed beneath the thin veneer of respectability.
I recommend it.
For many, Otto Frank is mainly known as the father of Anne Frank. Her diary has been read the world over by multiple generations of readers and has been adapted for the stage and screen numerous times.
In 2003, writer Carol Ann Lee published a biography of Otto Frank entitled The Hidden Life of Otto Frank. The book tells Otto’s story, from his childhood in Germany to the horrors of the Holocaust and finally, the post war years, as his youngest daughter’s diary became a worldwide cultural sensation.
I really enjoyed this biography. I enjoyed because Otto is given the spotlight that he deserves. The book is quite a hefty read in terms of content and length, but it also engaging. Ms. Lee was extremely thorough in her research, telling the story of a man who has become a symbol of an era when hate and prejudice ruled. She also asked the question that many of us have asked over the years: who betrayed Anne, Otto and the rest of the residents of the annex to the Nazis?
I absolutely recommend it.
Among the 1.5 million children that were killed in the Holocaust, Anne Frank is one of the most famous. Her diary, published after the war has been read by millions of readers over the years. But what if Anne survived?
This is the premise of the new book, Annelies: A Novel, by David R. Gillham. The book starts off just after the end of the war. Anne has survived and made her way back to her father, Otto Frank. Out of the eight people who hid for two years in the annex, they are the only survivors. Though she looks like the same Anne, the horrors she experienced have profoundly affected her psyche and outlook on the world. This creates conflict with her father, who is doing everything he can to return to normal life.
Will Anne be able to find the emotional freedom and security that she once took for granted and more importantly, will her relationship with her father heal?
The reviews on goodreads are mixed. As someone who is familiar with the diary and the person that Anne Frank was, I had to remind myself that this is a work of fiction. This not a non-fiction book. It’s essentially a what-if narrative, using what is known about Anne and those around her to tell a new story. In my opinion, Mr. Gillham should be given some slack and be allowed to use creative license while drawing on documented facts about his subject.
Do I recommend it? Yes.
Anne Frank is many things to many people, depending on whom one talks to. She was an ordinary teenage girl who went through the changes that we all went through at that age. She was a budding writer whose literary skills showed promise. She is an icon not just for the 1.5 million Jewish children who were slaughtered in The Holocaust, but for children around the world who are living and dying in war zones today. She is reminder of what hate and prejudice can do when we are blind to the humanity of our fellow mortals.
Her life and her brief time in hiding is immortalized in her published diaries The Diary of a Young Girl: Anne Frank.
But the question is, who owns Anne’s likeness and more importantly, who owns how she is represented to the world? This question is answered in the new book, The Phenomenon of Anne Frank. Written by David Barnouw and edited by Jeanette K. Ringold, the book traces the history of Anne’s story from an ordinary teenage girl who was murdered because she was Jewish to an international icon who represents so much to so many.
The premise of this book sounded promising. However, it was a bit too scholarly and dry for my taste.
Do I recommend it? Maybe.
The shooting that left 11 people dead in the Tree Of Life Synagogue its Pittsburgh on Saturday morning was a heartbreaking reminder that hate and prejudice still have a place in our society.
But in spite of that hate, there are still people in this world who see past labels and see the person.
Last night, I received a phone call from a former colleague who is Catholic. She expressed her condolences about the shooting. The reaction from my friends (most of whom are not Jewish) on Facebook was nothing but supportive and loving.
Yesterday, there was a story on Mashable that Muslim activists have raised more than $50,000 to help the loved ones of the victims pay for the funerals and to provide financial support to those who are still in the hospital.
Anne Frank lived through and died during the most inhuman period of human history. But even with all of the death, hatred and destruction that was her normal, she never gave up hope about humanity.
I keep my ideals, because in spite of everything I still believe that people are really good at heart.
This weekend was extremely hard for myself and many others. But we got through it because we were wrapped in love and support. While we cannot bring back the 11 people who were murdered on Saturday, we can heal. We can live in peace and we can love one another, in spite of our differences.
We only need to open up our hearts.
Today is Anne Frank’s birthday. One of the millions of Jewish children that were murdered in the Holocaust because they were Jewish, her legacy is that of hope, love and our shared humanity.
Last week I had a very interesting conversation.
I was talking to a friend from my martial arts school who is Muslim and in the middle of celebrating Ramadan. We were comparing the differences between Ramadan and Yom Kippur. While there are some differences between the two holidays, there are is one major similarity: devotion to G-d. Both holidays require fasting, which as anyone who has fasted can tell you it is not easy. What comes with the fasting is believing in and praying to a higher being who I believe is akin to a third parent. While our religious practices and beliefs differ, we still believe in a higher power and we still follow the same ancient traditions that our families have practiced for thousands of years. We were able to have a conversation about our individual religions that was just that.
And now to the reason for this post: the horrific shooting at the nightclub in Orlando. We are all G-d’s children, made in the image of our creator. The only reason the patrons of this nightclub were targeted is because they are gay. My heart breaks for everyone involved. This is not the America that I know, love and believe in. Today I pray for the victims and their families. I also pray for America, that we should learn from this tragedy and get over the b*llsh*t that says we are different due to an accident of birth. We are all human beings and deserve the same respect.
In a way, Anne Frank was both ordinary and extraordinary. She was ordinary because she was just another teenage girl going through the same experiences that every teenage girl goes through. She was extraordinary because even as a young woman, her writing reflected a mature quality that many writers take years to develop. She was also extraordinary because she was and continues to be the voice for the millions of children whose lives were taken needlessly during World War II.
After the war, her father, Otto Frank, the only member of her family to survive the Nazi Holocaust, returned to their hiding place and discovered his daughter’s diary. Initially published in the late 1952, The Diary of Anne Frank has not been out of print since then. It is the diary of a young Jewish girl hiding with her family during World War II. It is an extraordinary book about an ordinary young woman growing up under extraordinary and scary circumstances.
The first film adaptation of the book premiered in 1959. Millie Perks stepped into the lead role and Joseph Schildkraut played Anne’s beloved father, Otto.
In 2001, a TV movie, based on the book premiered. In this adaptation, Hannah Taylor Gordon played Anne and Ben Kingsley played Otto Frank. The difference between this adaptation and previous adaptations was that the story did not end with the discovery of the Annex. It followed the story as the member of the secret Annex lived and died in the concentration camps. The difference between this adaptation is much darker than earlier ones, it is not for the faint of heart, especially towards the end.
I recommend all three.
Today is the 70th anniversary of the discovery of secret annex. Anne Frank , an ordinary teenage girl was hiding in the annex with her family and several others. They were sent arrested and deported to concentration camps. Otto Frank, Anne’s father was only one to survive and live to old age.
This girl was a remarkable writer. Her thoughts and feelings documented in her diary are so ordinary in the life of a teenage girl. Yet her words are so extraordinary because they were in hiding. I keep imagining what kind of stories and characters she might have introduced the world to, had she survived. Some writers are lucky enough to have a gift for writing that is obvious at a young age. Anne was one of those writers. But we will never know what kind of writer she would have become as an adult.
Today is, or would have been Anne Frank’s 85th Birthday.
She was an ordinary young woman, going through the same ups and downs that we all go through when we are young.
She was extraordinary because her journal, read by multiple generations of readers speaks to all of us. Her writing, even for one so young is eloquent, honest and universal.
Of the millions that were murdered by the Nazis and their helpers, Anne stands out. It is her story that breaks our hearts. We connect over the conflicts with her family, we watch her experience romance for the first time and and we remember our own brushes with young love.
She was a born writer. Her writing may be the private journals of a young woman, but the reader has a taste of what she could written, had she survived.
Happy Birthday Anne.