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A Still Strong Voice

September 27, 2018

I thought I knew the story. Since I was a child, I had heard it, read it, seen it on film. But, there is nothing as powerful as place. As being there. A guide who showed us the city said that a nickname for Amsterdam is “Mokum,” from the Hebrew “Makom,” which means place. How fitting. For there is no “place” like the Anne Frank House to teach us about the horrors of fascism and the people who are brutalized in its wake.

Hallway at Anne Frank HouseWe all know the story. Anne Frank was a young girl forced into hiding when the Nazis began deporting Jews from her city of Amsterdam. Her family of four, with another family of three, and a single male friend, lived in a hidden annex to her father’s business for two years. They were supported by six formidable souls, who kept the secret in their dedication to the preservation of life. Anne and her family were betrayed and arrested by the Gestapo in August, 1944. After a couple of months in a Dutch deportation camp, they were sent to the death camps on the last transport out of the Netherlands. Only her father, Otto Frank, survived the Nazi murder machine.

But, Anne had a gift. She was an amazing writer. And, her diaries escaped the Nazis and live for all of us as a reminder of the dangers of intolerance, of the real human cost. If Anne were alive today, as she should be, not yet ninety, she would caution us about stigmatization that makes hate easier and about the inhumanity of separating children from their families. We are fortunate – Anne still has a voice – it is up to us to listen.

Lee Sherman, President & CEO