Saturday, July 7, 2012

The Anne Frank Museum, Amsterdam, Netherlands


 My husband Andrew was on a two week trip for work in Europe. While there, he had the opportunity to visit the Anne Frank House in Amsterdam.  Anne Frank was a 13 year old Jewish girl who's family went into hiding for two years before being found by the Nazi's in August 1944.  She, along with her mother and sister died in the Bergen-Belsen concentration camp in March 1945.  Anne's father, Otto Frank, survived the war and found Anne's diary among the papers left at the family's hiding spot.  He had the diary published as a book in 1947... 


 I first became familiar with the story of Anne Frank when I was in the fourth grade.  It was the first time I read her book "The Diary of a Young Girl" (I had read the book three times as a child).  In fact, the first time I took the book out of the library at school, the librarian, Mrs. Bell, sent a note home for my mom to make sure it was okay that I read it (simply because she did not know if my mother had discussed the Holocaust and WWII with me yet).  I can honestly say that in all of my 42 years, and all that I have read, (and I have always been an avid reader) nothing has moved me more than this book.  As I look back as an adult, I realize my mother must have had the patience of a saint, as I know I had many, many, questions the first time I read that book...


I was vaguely familiar with the Holocaust as my mother grew up in a Jewish neighborhood in Buffalo, New York and had many Jewish friends in elementary school.  I still had many questions;  it was hard for me to wrap my very young brain around the fact that there were people so full of hate for fellow human beings.  I STILL have a hard time wrapping my brain around that!  It is sad today that the human race has not come that far in it's acceptance of each other in the last sixty years...  


There were two things that really touched me about Andrew's visit to the museum; the first being that he said when you walked through the museum there were no furnishings of any kind in the rooms of the Frank family hide-away.  When you went into the gallery space at the end of the tour there were large wall photos of what the rooms would have looked like when they were furnished.  After the family was discovered, the Nazi's went through and destroyed everything (Anne's diary was found in a rubble of papers on the floor after the war).  Otto Frank's request, when the museum was opened, was that the rooms be left bare to represent the "void" that was left by the Nazis and the Holocaust. 


The other thing that touched me was that Andrew said he found it rather difficult to keep his composure in the museum because he could not stop thinking about our own girls while he was there.  Our oldest daughter Fiona is eight, only a few years younger than Anne at the time the family went into hiding.  This made me decide to read the book for a fourth time, as an adult, and a mother of two young girls of my own.  My heart breaks at the passages where she writes about the war being over, and being able to go back to their real home.  I cannot imagine what this family went through - and I thank God every day that I live in a country where I will never have to go through that.


 We can complain about the economy, the politicians, or what we don't have, but the fact is, as American's we really, in all honesty, have nothing to complain about.  What we don't do enough of is thanking our soldiers for our freedom, loving our neighbors as we love ourselves, and just being better human beings.  That being said, I will get off my soap box - I don't write a political blog but I had to throw those two cents in...


 As I continue to re-read Anne Frank's diary I am inspired to create some art with her in mind.  I have a large collaged piece of watercolor paper that I had made a foundation on for the card kits I am putting together.  I think I am going to cut this down to a couple of 5 x 7 pieces and create a diptych. 


My time lately seems so limited but I am putting this at the top of my priority list to complete.  I will post pictures of the completed piece late next week.  In the mean time - I hope everyone is staying cool - it will reach 100 degrees here in Norwalk, Ohio today.  Have a Blessed week!

4 comments:

Lee said...

You know, I don't remember ever reading this book. I'm sure I did. A very poignant post- my boys ar e6 and 8.

Heather said...

This is wonderful, Cassie. I havent read her book as an adult, but I know I still have my childhood copy. Its so heartbreaking, isnt it?
And you're right, its really easy to get bogged down in the 'bad news' we hear each day, but there is a lot to be thankful for. Thanks for the gentle reminder!

Jenny Petricek said...

Ooh, Cassie, I can't tell you how much I loved reading this post! I too am a HUGE fan of The Diary of Anne Frank; my mom gave it to me when I was about ten years old, and ever since it's been one of my favorite books! I also teach the dramatic version of The Diary to my 8th graders, and in the ten years I've taught, it's been the piece of literature the students love the most, hands down!

There are some really wonderful nonfiction books out there that analyze the people and situations in the Secret Annexe; I just recently read one entitled "The Secret Life of Otto Frank," and talks about his experiences as a concentration camp survivor and all of the hoops he had to jump through to get Anne's diary published. Very good!

The subject matter of Anne Frank and the Holocaust is very inspiring when it comes to art--and your piece here is perfect! Thanks for sharing with us!

Sandy Michelle said...

Thanks for stopping by my blog Cassie! My 10 year old just completed a book report on Anne Frank. It really touched me and I would have loved to walk through that museum. I love that you were inspired to create something too.

Hugs!
Sandy