Anne Frank was born on June 12th 1929, just a year before my grandmother was born. My grandmother is now 88-years-old. Anne died aged 15 at the Bergen-Belsen concentration camp in February 1945. While hiding from the Nazis, she wrote her classic book, The Diary of a Young Girl. My grandmother wrote nothing. She can’t even read, but she got married, had kids, became a grandmother, a widow, had lovers, enjoyed life. She likes to watch soap operas and drink coffee. When she was younger she liked to have a few glasses of beer, too. Because of hate and prejudice, little Anne Frank never had a chance to do more with her life.
In June 2015, more than 70 years gone past since Anne Frank died, photographer Jay Trinidad is on his way home when he sees a man with a red swastika armband sitting in the passenger waiting area of the downtown Seattle ferry dock. His eyes can’t believe what they are witnessing. Worst of all is the fact that no one else seems that surprised or bothered by the man with the red swastika armband.
Does the man with the red swastika armband know who Anne Frank was?
Does he care?
Margot Frank, Anne’s lesser known sister, was 19-years-old when she died, also at the Bergen-Belsen concentration camp. She never had a chance to be a wife, a mother, truly happy.
She was a good Jewish girl.
She studied Hebrew, went to the synagogue, and, according to Anne, wanted to immigrate to Israel and become a midwife. A small dream, a “simple” dream, but even that was taken from her.
Does the man with the red swastika armband know how many children died during World War 2?
Does he care?
At the concentration camp, Anne Frank was forced to strip naked to be disinfected. Imagine her fear, her pain?
Her head was shaved and she was tattooed with an identifying number on her arm. She wasn’t the first. She wasn’t the last. She then joined other women of all ages and they were used as slave labor, forced to haul rocks and dig rolls of sod. At night, she was crammed into overcrowded barracks. Before dying, poor Anne watched other children being led to the gas chambers.
Imagine her fear, her pain?
After a while, she lost her hope.
After a while, she lost everything.
Imagine if it were you in her place?
Does the man with the red swastika armband know about this?
Does he care?
Georges André Kohn was among a group of twenty Jewish children who had the misfortune of being chosen to be sent from Auschwitz to the Neuengamme concentration camp for medical experiments. Or, should I say, medical torture (because that’s what it was)?
At Neuengamme, children aged from five to twelve were infected with live tuberculosis bacilli by monstrous Kurt Heissmeyer, a friend of that other monster Josef Mengele. Later on, the children had their axillary lymph nodes surgically removed for study.
Three days before his thirteenth birthday, Georges was brought to the Bullenhuser Damm School in Hamburg along with other children. They were then hanged in the basement. The next day, his body was brought back to Neuengamme where it was cremated.
What kind of human being does that to a child?
Someone like that man with the red swastika armband?
Hana Bradyová, the subject of the non-fiction children’s book Hana’s Suitcase, written by Karen Levine, was deported to the Auschwitz concentration camp in 1944. She was sent to the gas chambers a few hours after her arrival. She was 13-years-old.
Does the man with the red swastika armband know who Hana was?
Maybe he does.
And if he does, does he care?
Maybe he doesn’t.
Petr Ginz was sixteen-years-old when he was transferred to Auschwitz and gassed. Petr dreamt of becoming a novelist. The Nazi nightmare put an end to his dream.
Does the man with the red swastika armband have dreams?
I dread to know what he dreams of.
June 2015. A swastika appears on a football field during a match between Croatia and Italy. It looks as if the swastika is making an unwelcome return.
Is the man with the red swastika armband happy?
But does he know what true happiness really is?
In an attempt to evade deportation by the Nazis, Eva and Abraham Beem were sent to the town of Ermelo, Holland where they were given new identities. But, in 1944, four Dutch policemen raided the home where the children were being housed. Abraham was forced to undress.
The policemen saw that Abraham was circumcised.
Abraham and Eva were deported to Auschwitz. They were gassed immediately upon arrival.
Abraham was 9-years-old and Eva was 11-years-old.
Czeslawa Kwoka was a Catholic Polish girl and she was one of the thousands of child victims of German World War 2 against Poles. She was 14-years-old when she died.
Anna Maria Steinbach was gassed in Auschwitz-Birkenau extermination camp. She was 9-years-old.
Rutka Laskier was 14-years-old when she died in the gas chambers.
So many children that didn’t have a chance to enjoy the best years of their lives. So many children that didn’t have the chance to be children in a world filled with hate.
The man with the red swastika armband doesn’t care about these children but you should care (and worry) about the man with the red swastika armband.
First they came for the Socialists…
I could go on, but does it matter?
Not to the man with the red swastika armband (because he doesn’t care), but I hope it matters to you.