by Kathie MM
This week, citizens from all over the United States celebrated the anniversary of the Declaration of Independence, “written by the rebelling fathers of the United States”. Symbolic of the long-ago battles, fireworks lit up the skies and enactments of various forms of resistance filled the parks.
I chose to celebrate the day by giving thanks to rebels and revolutionaries who resist violence non violently, adhering to the principles of non-killing advocated by Glenn Paige.
In particular, I honored a young girl who wrote one of history’s most important books, a book with the power to promote empathy and compassion and to energize readers to fight prejudice, cruelty, scapegoating, and passive obedience to unrighteous authority.
I am talking about the mesmerizing diary of Anne Frank, the young teen writing her story while hiding with her mother, father, sister and four other people in a neglected factory annex in Amsterdam during the Nazi occupation of the Netherlands and genocidal pursuit of Jews.
Anne’s tale of coming of age in that annex under such dire circumstances is engrossing, inspiring–and heart-breaking because we know that shortly after her last entry, German and Dutch police stormed the annex and seized the eight inhabitants plus two of the Dutch men and women who made it possible for Anne and the others to avoid becoming victims of the Holocaust for more than two years.
Think of the risks faced by those stalwart supporters bringing food, beverages, clothing, medicines, books, magazines, newspapers, week after week, month after month.
Anne’s diary bears witness to the horrors of one of the not-to-be forgotten episodes of man’s inhumanity to man, a horrifying example of what people who feel angry and mistreated can be led to do by power hungry leaders with a skill for identifying scapegoats, promoting anger and hatred, and stirring up prejudice.
The diary is also a testimonial to goodness, a reminder that there are always good people who will risk everything to resist evil and rebel against cruel and unjust authority—as indeed did the patriots who turned to warfare to free themselves.
Perhaps the greatest achievement of Anne’s diary is that it memorializes not just Anne but also the brave souls who fought to protect them– Victor Kugler, Johannes Kleiman, Miep Gies, and Bep Voskuijl.
It seems likely that, in part, the loyalty of such friends was what made it possible for Anne to write, while hiding in the Annex:
“It’s really a wonder that I haven’t dropped all my ideals, because they seem so absurd and impossible to carry out. Yet I keep them, because in spite of everything, I still believe that people are really good at heart.”