Monday, September 22, 2014

Anne Frank's Witness

One day this terrible war will be over. The time will come when we'll be people again and not just Jews! (Anne Frank, 11 April 1944)

Today I had an opportunity to visit the secret annex where Ann Frank lived with her family. Like many people I read her diary - many years ago. But being in that space today was very moving for me and those whom I am traveling with in Amsterdam.

I found this site which gives some sense of the experience. Apparently a million people a year go to this museum - I know this morning we arrived at opening time (9 a.m) and still waited for forty-five minutes to get in. Even so, not everyone can do this - so in the absence of being here I commend the site to you.

Many years ago I visited Dachau It was a powerful experience and the sheer magnitude of what happened there was overwhelming. Today's experience was similar but different; at the end of our time there it felt so personal. Anne felt so close and present. While it is difficult to hold both this experience and that previous experience together, it seems that someone in trying to do just that we discover the reason that we must never forget - and commit ourselves to being agents of healing and reconciliation in the world. As Anne's father put it in 1970:
We cannot change what happened anymore. The only thing we can do is to learn from the past and to realize what discrimination and persecution of innocent people means. I believe that it's everyone's responsibility to fight prejudice. (Otto Frank, 1970)

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