Anne Frank, and history’s lessons


When we were in Germany, we were both struck by how present the past remains. There are images, buildings, museums, memorial to all that happened here in World War II.

Berlin still shows where the wall once stood. There is an entire museum dedicated to recording what happened when the city was cut into pieces by those bricks and that mortar.

The city has a huge, somber, stark memorial to the victims of the holocaust, too. It’s both beautiful and haunting.

They bear the guilt of what was done in their country decades ago. They do not want to forget it. They talk about it often.

Why?

I think because so many people in Germany are afraid to let it happen again.

One thing that we noticed on our trip was how often people asked us about Donald Trump. What was going on in the US, they asked us. Didn’t Americans learn anything from the story of Hitler?

I didn’t have an answer. I never knew what to say.

Now we hear that Anne Frank, the young girl who wrote about the beauty of life while she was hiding in an Amsterdam attic waiting to be murdered, was denied asylum in the United States. Her father, Otto, applied for a refugee visa. He went through his brother in law, who was living in Boston.

The family was highly educated, well connected, ready to come to the US.

Their application was denied.

When I read why, every hair on my arms stood up in horror. It was as if Donald Trump had been in charge of the application.

I wrote this article, published in LiberalAmerica. I hope you’ll read it. I hope you’ll think about Anne Frank and about her family. I hope you’ll think about all of those modern Germans, asking why Americans have failed to learn from the terrible lessons of Nazi Germany.

I hope you’ll talk about this, pass it around on Facebook, bring it up at your book group.

I hope, most of all, that you will vote. And that you will vote carefully.

Anne Frank’s Tragic Story, and What We Can Learn From History