Hidden Like Anne Frank
In a haunting black and white photograph a wide eyed little girl
with carefully styled ringlets stands with her arm around her smiling
mother. In a real life plot more horrific than the writings of Mr.
Stephen King himself, the little girl and legions of her peers had to
be sent away from parents to live with strangers in a desperate fight
for survival. Adolph Hitler was on his quest for world dominion. It
was not a safe time to be Jewish.
Little Rita was one of the children who survived. She went on
to have a son, Marcel Prins. She shared her experiences candidly with
him. Fortunately for us, they piqued his curiosity.
"But what did going into hiding actually involve? Where did you
go? How did you know who to trust? How did you find money to pay for
your hiding place? What did you do when you were frightened?...
He asked these questions of the elderly men and women who were
the frightened and confused children in the 1940's. Their stories and
very poignant photographs are the text of Hidden Like Anne Frank: 14
True Stories of Survival. These children, some as young as three,
basically had everything children take for granted--home, school,
family, food, safety--wrenched from them. They had to make life or
death decisions most adults don't have to. Even after the war some
returned to the news that their family members had been murdered.
Living parents were sometimes too traumatized to be the loving people
they had been before the war. Donald De Marcus observed,
"Father was able to deal with the pain better than Mother, who
was never as affectionate as she was before the war. She was troubled
by nightmares for years. She used to dream about the concentration
camp where her only sister was murdered along with her husband and
children. She was destroyed the mother I had known."
As a mother, I found this book both enlightening and very
difficult to read. I would recommend it even more to adults than to
the teens who are its target demographic. Those who don't learn from
history are doomed to repeat it. America does not do a very good job
learning from history. This summer there was a great hue and cry
about young illegal immigrants smuggled into this country in desperate
attempts to save their lives. Governor Paul LePage, for example, had
a major league hissy fit when he learned that eight had infiltrated
Maine. A lot of people demand that these innocent children be sent
home. I would strongly urge them to read Hidden Like Anne Frank and
really take it to heart. How would they feel if it was their children
in peril, if they knew the only way to keep them safe was to send them
away, possibly to never see them again? Hidden Like Anne Frank is a
very powerful book in its ability to evoke a sense of how humanly
alike we are and how we must do somthing when others are in peril.
On a personal note, one of the things I am enjoying the most about the
fundraising dinner/silent auction my church is doing for girls'
education in Tanzania is the dialogue it is creating and the great
enthusiasm people are showing for this worthy cause. With any kind of
luck it will be an annual event.
A great big shout out goes out to all who are working to protect the
Julia Emily Hathaway
Sent from my iPod