Today is Holocaust Memorial Day which of course is a very sad day; for me it actually reminded me of some of my own fond memories, including how the Holocaust and a certain story taught me one of life’s greatest lessons.
As a child I had an insatiable thirst for knowledge and my late father would teach me all about war, in particular the Second World War. I was fascinated and History quickly became my favourite subject to learn. When I was 10 years old I heard about the plight of Anne Frank and her story just blew me away. My parents kindly bought me The Diary of Anne Frank for my birthday that year and in the first page I just knew I was meant to be reading this book…. You see the diary was a present to Anne Frank from her parents on her 13th Birthday, on 12th of June 1942. My birthday is the 12th of June.Now I’m sure this sounds daft to you but to my 10 year old self this was amazing that we shared a birthday. I devoured the book in a couple of days, asking my dad to explain about the camps and other parts I didn’t understand.
I still think about how her cat almost gave her family away to the Nazi police as it jumped onto the floor of the attic in which they were hiding. I too had cats and they would give me away for sure! It was strange how I could relate to this girl that was from a different country, a different era, a whole different world.
But also I could never get over the fact that a girl only a few years older than me had to go through something so traumatic. What had she done wrong? What had any of the Jews done wrong for that matter.
I’m not going to go through the events of the Holocaust or the horrors inflicted by the Nazis during this horrible part of human history. For those that don’t know about it, you should definitely educate yourself, but be warned it is incredibly heartbreaking. It’s just such a shame that the world didn’t entirely learn from these horrors. Wars continue to ravage our land and whilst genocide robs our society. Even Anne herself noted in her diary “What is done cannot be undone, but one can prevent it happening again.” Wise beyond her years.
She taught me another of the life’s biggest lessons – to be grateful. To appreciate everything I have, to be compassionate and kind to others especially as their own struggles are not always obvious. And yes I learned this at the age of 10. So impactful was her story that I re-read it several times over the years, and whilst I’m sure there were times I continued to act like a brat, I think of Anne and this lesson 18 years later.
I wish she could have lived to write many more diaries, she would’ve been an amazing and inspiring woman no doubt. If you haven’t read The diary of Anne Frank, I highly recommend it.
It opens: “I hope to tell you everything that I could never tell anyone until now. And I hope that you will be a faithful and supportive friend.” Ironic how her diary has become such a friend to me. Con incidentally I have just found that the Guardian newspaper has published an The Greatest Anne Frank Quotes with some poignant quotes which is worth the read.
To the survivors ‘commemorating’ today: I hope your day is beautiful and respectful to those you lost, to those who survived including you and I hope you can feel proud to have triumphed over such evil. I hope you feel the support of the world, because we are all behind you, remembering with sadness.
An anecdotal and probably slightly pointless post from me but it was something I just felt compelled to share. Thanks for listening!