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Sunday, June 26, 2022

Anne Frank doodle ! - and some history

As we get up – we look to Google searching almost everything including – ‘where did I keep my vehicle key’ – ‘when is my wife’s birthday ?  .. .. most likely you too did some search yesterday and perhaps noticed the Doodle.  Google Doodles are the logos on the Google search home page – making search more knowledgeable,  fun and enjoyable for the user. 

Of the many Cinema halls in Cinema Road in Kakinada in East Godavari district, Satyagowri is perhaps unique.  In 1990s it used to screen only English movies – the specialty was they would issue only one ticket to the person standing in the queue, all had to stand in the queue and those who stood within the marked line, were sure of getting a ticket ! – it had good music system inside – understand that this theatre stands renovated in 2008, has capacity of 696 and now screens Telegu movies as well.  I remember seeing this movie there – on day 1 – there were not many and more than half moved out fast in a few minutes as they could see more of a typewriter and letter only as someone leaving the hall remarked.


It was ‘Schindler’s List’ based on the novel Schindler's Ark by Thomas Keneally, an Australian novelist,  released in 1993 -  directed and co-produced by Steven Spielberg and scripted by Steven Zaillian.  It was a film based on the life of Oskar Schindler, a German businessman who saved the lives of more than a thousand mostly Polish-Jewish refugees during the Holocaust by employing them in his factories.  It is a touching story dating back to 1939 when the Germans move Polish Jews into the Kraków Ghetto as World War II begins.  Not a post on Schindler or his list but on another diary – tragic though !! Yesterday Google celebrated   Anne Frank with an animated slideshow on the 75th anniversary of the publication of her diary--"The Diary of a Young Girl." 

The Franks were progressive Jews who lived in the religiously diverse outskirts of Frankfurt until the autumn of 1933. Anti-Semitism had been on the rise in Germany for several years. When the Nazi Party, led by Adolf Hitler, took control of the government in January 1933, the Franks relocated to Amsterdam. Anne described the move in her diary: "Because we're Jewish, my father immigrated to Holland in 1933, where he became the managing director of the Dutch Opekta Company, which manufactures products used in making jam." Anne Frank was a teenage Jewish girl who kept a diary while her family was in hiding from the Nazis during World War II. For two years, she and seven others lived in a "Secret Annex" in Amsterdam before being discovered and sent to concentration camps. Anne died in the Bergen-Belsen camp in 1945. Frank's father was the family's sole survivor. He decided to publish the diary, which gives a detailed account of Anne's thoughts, feelings and experiences while she was in hiding. It has been an international bestseller for decades and a key part of Holocaust education programs.   

In May 1940, the Nazis invaded Amsterdam and the Franks were put on edge again. Jews had to wear the yellow Star of David and observe a strict curfew. They were forbidden from owning businesses. Otto Frank transferred ownership of his company to Christian associates but ran it behind the scenes. Anne and Margot had to transfer to a segregated Jewish school, according to Muller. Anne wrote, "After May 1940, the good times were few and far between; first there was the war, then the capitulation and then the arrival of the Germans, which is when the trouble started for the Jews." On June 12, 1942, Anne's 13th birthday, Otto gave her a red-and-white-checked notebook that she had previously picked out at a local shop. Anne decided to use it as a diary. Her first entry reads, "I hope I will be able to confide everything to you, as I have never been able to confide in anyone, and I hope you will be a great source of comfort and support." 

In July 1942, Germans began sending Dutch Jews to concentration camps. The Franks attempted to emigrate to the United States but were denied visas, according to The Washington Post. The family began making plans to go into hiding. Otto set up a hiding place in the rear annex of his firm, with the help of his Jewish business partner, Hermann van Pels, and his associates Johannes Kleiman and Victor Kugler, according to the Anne Frank House. The hiding place was at 263 Prinsengracht, an area with many small companies and warehouses.

On July 5, 1942, Margot received a summons to report to a concentration camp. The Frank family went into hiding the next day, a few weeks earlier than planned.  For two years, eight people lived in the Secret Annex, according to Muller. The four Franks were joined by Hermann and Auguste van Pels and their 16-year-old son, Peter. In November 1942, Fritz Pfeffer, a dentist and friend of the Frank family, moved in. Pfeffer is referred to as Albert Dussel in many editions of Anne's diary because she sometimes used pseudonyms. 

In her diary, Anne described the Secret Annex, saying it had several small rooms and narrow halls.   Anne wanted to be a professional journalist when she grew up. She kept several notebooks when in hiding. While her first and most famous was the red-checked notebook, when that ran out of space, she moved on to others, according to the Anne Frank House. Anne made detailed entries throughout her time in the Secret Annex. She wrote, "The nicest part is being able to write down all my thoughts and feelings. Otherwise, I'd absolutely suffocate." 

On March 28, 1944, the residents of the Secret Annex heard a special news report on the radio. Dutch Cabinet Minister Gerrit Bolkestein announced that diaries and other documents would be collected when the war ended in order to preserve an account of what happened for future generations. Anne decided that she would submit her diary, and began revising it for future readers !!  

On Aug. 4, 1944, German police stormed the Secret Annex. Everyone in hiding was arrested. It is unknown how the police discovered the annex. Theories include betrayal, perhaps by the warehouse staff or helper Bep Voskuijl's sister Nelly. At  Auschwitz, the men and women were separated. This was the last time that Anne saw her father. Later  Anne & others were transferred to Bergen-Belsen in Germany. Bergen-Belsen was overcrowded, and infectious diseases were rampant. After three months, Anne and Margot developed typhus. Margot died in February 1945. Anne died a few days later. The exact dates of their deaths are unknown!!  

Schindler’s list saved a few hundreds from death – Anne’s diary reveals children’s experience during those tragic times – one cannot even imagine on how many other little girls were there and how many were persecuted during those horrid era.  

With regards – S. Sampathkumar
26th June 2022. 

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