SOMEONE ELSE’S WINDOWS: June 12 and a gift

MALAYBALAY CITY (MindaNews/15 June) – No, I’m not going to write about the 114th anniversary of Philippine Independence. This is a tribute to a girl in a faraway land who dreamed of becoming a journalist but never became one. War and the mad ambition of Adolf Hitler to purify the Aryan race led to her early death, in Bergen-Belsen, a Nazi concentration camp in Germany.

Her name was Anne Frank, the German-born Jewish girl who whose diary about her experiences during World War II revealed not only the sheer inhumanity that she and her family suffered but also the depth of her thoughts and feelings. She was an old soul trapped in a young body.

Anne’s family moved to The Netherlands to escape persecution in Germany after the Nazis came to power. Fate however caught up with them when the Germans invaded The Netherlands, in 1940. They tried to evade arrest by hiding in a “Secret Annex” to a building in Amsterdam. But betrayal came on August 4, 1944, and the whole family was sent to Auschwitz concentration camp in Poland. Later, Anne and her sister, Margot, were sent to Bergen-Belsen where they died shortly before the camp was liberated by British troops. Their mother, Edith, was left behind in Auschwitz where she died.

Most of Anne’s works were done while her family stayed in hiding, although it’s been reckoned that she wrote the first entry on June 12, 1942, her thirteenth birthday and the same day that she received the diary as a gift, which was actually an autograph book.

As a private recording of her thoughts, Anne did not want anybody to read her diary. Her father, Otto, who survived the Holocaust, would have wanted to respect his daughter’s wish. But since the diary revealed her dream of becoming an author he decided to have it published.

Otto Frank had to experience several rejections before Anne’s work finally saw print. Publishers only took notice of it after Dutch journalist Jan Romein wrote an article about it. Romein wrote that the diary “stammered out in a child’s voice, embodies all the hideousness of fascism, more so than all the evidence at Nuremberg put together.” Nuremberg was the venue of the trials for Nazi war criminals.

The diary showed that Anne found strength during those dark days in writing. As she said in one of her entries: “I can shake off everything if I write; my sorrows disappear, my courage is reborn. But, and that is the great question, will I ever be able to write anything great, will I ever become a journalist or a writer? I hope so, oh, I hope so very much, for I can recapture everything when I write, my thoughts, my ideals and my fantasies.”

If only she knew that her words would become immortal.

Anne was also an idealist, a budding feminist if you may. She vowed that “if God lets me live, I shall attain more than Mummy ever has done, I shall not remain insignificant, I shall work in the world and for mankind!”

It was an idealism that raged against the darkness that had descended on the land, and revealed the humanist in her.

She wrote: “… In spite of everything, I still believe that people are really good at heart. I simply can’t build up my hopes on a foundation consisting of confusion, misery, and death. I see the world gradually being turned into a wilderness, I hear the ever approaching thunder, which will destroy us too, I can feel the sufferings of millions and yet, if I look up into the heavens, I think that it will all come right, that this cruelty too will end, and that peace and tranquility will return again.”

Apologists of Nazism had tried to discredit the diary. They questioned its authenticity saying the writing style could not have been that of a teenager. But witnesses and historical evidence, including forensic handwriting comparisons, proved that Anne had indeed written it.

Such is the power of the written word that even the Nazis would cringe at the thought of the horrors of the Holocaust being read by millions. Such is the power of Anne Frank, the underground “journalist” whose diary shows that the human spirit can always be free if it chooses to be. (MindaViews is the opinion section of MindaNews. H. Marcos C. Mordeno can be reached at hmcmordeno@gmail.com)