Sunday, April 5, 2020

Our Anne Frank Moment

How are you enjoying "life inside"? Are you coping with shortages of toilet paper, cleaning products or your favorite food? Have you managed to find your own space within your home to do work, educate your children or just get away for a bit? Have you had more than a few temper flare-ups, sibling rivalries or tearful moments? Have you been imagining days past, remembering (or anticipating) lovely vacations somewhere far away from home?

Anne Frank House in Amsterdam is the building to the right of the one with the pointed roof.

Are you or someone in your family journaling your experiences, either online or on paper?

Anne Frank's Diary

At times like this, it's useful to remember that we weren't the first who had to go into "hiding." And by comparison, we have it pretty good.

A dear friend who long ago directed me in "Diary of Anne Frank" sent this wonderful Life special edition that is currently on news stands about the young woman whose diary influenced generations beyond her.

In 2009, when Rick and I first went to Europe, we were fortunate to be able to tour the Anne Frank House in Amsterdam. It left an indelible impression, partly because I'd been inspired by her story since it was required reading in junior high and partly because how could one not be affected?

I wrote about it HERE and if you're interested, you can check out the original post.

Margot, Otto, Anne and Edith Frank, shortly before going into hiding.

The story of Anne Frank and her family and fellow hiding residents is instructive in these days of social distance for many of us. It certainly resonates for me. Apart from Rick, I really am not seeing people. Unless I'm taking a walk or in my yard, I am inside. (I should also add that this isn't much of a hardship for me and not that much unlike my life before quarantine.) Last night we had our first Zoom Virtual Happy Hour. It felt good to "see" other people, even though most of our conversation was about CV19.

But when I think back to the Anne Frank House, I remember the differences they faced. First of all, there were eight people in a very few rooms. No one, apart from young Peter, had their own private space. Each sleeping space was shared by at least one other person.

A re-creation of the room Anne shared with the dentist, known in the book as Mr. Dussell.

While I know many families may be in small homes or apartments, there are also many of us who are isolated are in a home where we will have our own spot to go if we need to be alone. We are used to adjustable heat or if it's hot, air conditioning. They couldn't open a window, no matter how hot it was. And the heat was not adequate in the cold Netherlands winter.

A model of the Anne Frank House -- warehouse on the left, upper floors on the right were where Anne and her family hid.

And of course, they couldn't go for a walk or a bicycle ride, our out to rake leaves and get the garden ready for spring. Anne's closest look to the outside was a window in the attic of the building in which they were hidden.

This was Anne's only window to the world.

They had little food. Moments in the diary recall their having only a few potatoes to share amongst the eight of them. Bread could be scarce, as could meat. In a rare moment of festivities, Miep, their caretaker, saved ration cards to make them a very small cake. What would they think of supermarket wars over a package of toilet paper?

Their entertainment was restricted to books and puzzles. For one Hanukkah gift, Anne erased the answers from her sister's crossword puzzle book so she could do them again. What would they think of cable, 24 hour streaming, books online or on tablets?

The entry to Anne's hiding place was behind this book case on the upper floors of an office building.

Communication? They relied on an unpredictable wireless but by and large their window to the world was wrapped up in the visits of the people who put their lives on the line to bring them food or updates on the war. There was no 24-hour news cycle or online newspapers.

They had to be absolutely still during the hours workers were in the building, below them. They couldn't use the bathroom and even a cough could bring the Gestapo.

The consequences of "breaking the rules" for Anne and her family? A brutal death, if not instantly, then through the excruciating brutality of the concentration camps, in which all but her father died.

Anne's room; the faded photos she collected of film stars remain.

I hope this is as close to an Anne Frank moment as we will ever get. They were targets to something known -- discovery by the Nazis. We are targets to something about which we know but cannot be seen, the virus. In its own way it is as dangerous. As a simple cough could lead to Anne's death, that same simple cough could lead to ours. The virus can, it has and it will continue to kill thousands of people in the next weeks. It does not discriminate, as the Nazis did. Good men, women and children are dying and so are the bad, regardless of age, race, gender or ethnicity.

And like Anne's family, there are the helpers. Those who are staffing the medical units, the grocery store and warehouse workers, truck drivers, pharmacists, journalists, restaurant delivery/take-out providers, utilities workers who are working on the infrastructure. There are the volunteers at food banks and those who brave the grocery store to get food for their family, neighbors and friends. Scientists are in their labs, working hard to create vaccines. Last night a friend picked up their groceries at curbside from one of the large Meijer stores here. The young woman who did their shopping -- who put her life on the line so they could have food -- was working without gloves, masks or wipes provided by the store. They gave her the half-bottle of hand sanitizer they had in their car. She cried.

People like this -- who go on the front lines for us -- represent the best of us.

Mr. Frank's office colleagues provided food and shelter to the Franks and their friends for more than two years.

But we can be our best too. We can protect ourselves and others by staying home. Washing hands. Sterilizing our spaces. We can watch movies on Netflix, read books, engage in video games, blogging, Zoom chats with family and friends.  The kids can keep up with lessons online and if they're antsy can get out for a walk or play in the yard.

We probably have enough food to eat. Granted, it may not be exactly the food we want that night, we might be missing an ingredient to make a favorite dish. But we can eat. (At least, many of us can. There is a significant portion of the population that relies on food banks, which are running out of food.)

But that is "some of us." For others, challenges will multiply. Because of the massive unemployment, until some form of stimulus arrives, there will be many hungry families. Rents will be due with no money to pay. Crime will probably rise in many areas because of financial desperation. We have a global society that will be experiencing unprecedented collective grief as friends and loved ones die.

We all know that isolation can be challenging. We know that people are dying, and within a month or so, at least one person we know directly or one degree removed will either contract the virus or die. We are anxious. We may have bad dreams that wake us. (Well, I am, anyway.)

We have limited tools with which we can fight. Soap. Hand sanitizer. Our own ability to keep a safe distance. Staying home.

Anne could hear the bells from this nearby church.

But we also have better tools to cope with it than ever before. Things that can help staying home easier than ever before. And if we stay home now, then one day we can be out again amongst many people, traveling the world if we wish.

Amsterdam. No hiding. No spatial distance required.

This is our Anne Frank moment. Please Stay Home. And Stay Well.

Sharing with:    Let's Keep in Touch       /     Pink Saturday     


Pam Richardson said...

Jeanie, I think many of us have been thinking of Anne Frank during these times. Reading her diary in junior high made me enter a world I was totally unfamiliar. I am doing my best to keep a heart of gratitude, we have everything we need. Thank you for this post that reminds us how well we have it in our day.

La Table De Nana said...

Well said.. we're still so spoiled..many of to network anything..
It's the ones w/ less..far less..abusive homes..job losses..income losses..

and again last night on FB(I lurk never post)pics of groups together.

I told my neighbour who has finished her Fl quarantine from 50 ft apart..we're in the country on larger 1/2 acre lots..that I was so fed up w/ people not self isolating to which she replied..there will always be people that do not follow rules..Really? Then arrest them..fine them.
It's the heroes...that are shining for us..the visible ones and the unsung ones.

Miss Val's Creations said...

In comparison to Anne Frank, we certainly have it made in the comfort of our homes and being able to connect virtually to others. This is such a thoughtful analogy. I really feel for those on the front line. They are our heroes. It is difficult at this point to think of our world as ever being normal again. All we can do is try to stay positive and wait it out.

Carol @Comfort Spring Station said...

Whenever I feel childish annoyance at staying in, I have been remembering Anne and her family hiding in the attic. At least I can make noises which is something. Nice post said...

I was fascinated by Anne Frank after reading about her in high school...many times everyday I think about how grateful I am that we have so many diversions and ways to communicate in our modern times. Since I love to be at home, that part is no problem for me, especially at the beach house with my son and grandsons...great post Jeanie,

jo(e) said...

Wow. That really puts this in perspective.

Mae Travels said...

Reading this is really a bit of a shock. We are truly lucky to have so many resources even when we are "in hiding." I hope we in the small world today don't continue on a path that shows us human viciousness rather than ingenuity and generosity.

be well... mae at

Nikki - Notes of Life said...

What a very poignant and fitting post for these times. I keep meaning to pick up Anne Frank's Diary. Maybe not would be the right time to read it.

Joanne Huffman said...

Well thought out and well stated.

Bonnie said...

Thank you Jeanie, How timely is a post on Anne Frank. What they endured is incredible!
During this time of confinement, we are very blessed! I love my daily walk more and more. I love that I can keep up with family and friends via phone or text. We can even see them on Facetime. We can order grocery delivery and on and on.
I am thankful staying at home will help this virus to pass. I hope people will obey the rules and things will improve. I am thankful for leaders addressing problems and medical people serving the sick. We have much to be thankful for. Have a great day!

anno said...

It's hard enough to read Anne's diary, but seeing her quarters in person really brings home the privations they suffered. Hard to imagine how they succeeded in remaining in hiding for as long as they did. (FWIW, I started my first diary after visiting the Anne Frank home when I was 8.)

Thanks for this reminder about what we still have and what we can yet do. For example, it is a sunny day today, my work obligations are completely done for the week, and I have a whole chicken ready to go on the rotisserie! It is a good day.

(A friend of mine, though, now has her three college-age sons back home with her. All musicians: a flutist, a drummer, and a pianist. I think she is missing her quiet time!)

Jacqueline~Cabin and Cottage said...

My Daughter in law's mom isolated in an upstairs room for two weeks after she traveled. All turned out fine, and they jokingly called her Anne Frank while she was there, but you are right. As challenging as that would be, it is nothing like the real Anne. I have been very grateful these past weeks for all the blessings we usually take for granted.

Evi Erlinda said...

Thank you for reminder about the hardest time in Nazi era. Stay at home in 2020 is much better, even at home, we still enjoy virtual zoos, concerts, and museums. Some bloggers invite us in virtual tour :) We can shop through online and meet friends through video call, What a blast!
Indeed, extended time to stay at home.
Stay well!

Iris Flavia said...

You need TP? Give me your address, I can send some. Say dollar 10? Per roll! ;-)

Anne Frank, oh such a very sad, strong life-"story".

You read her book at school?! Now. I should have, but, no. Strange, isn´t it. History-class was 90+% about that small Austrian man who destroyed the world, but this book? No.

I fail how people can get at each other´s throats. And they still do. I was wearing my Gurri-coat, even my happy hat when a man,a "financial refugee" from Africa grinned at me nastily and said something. Google translate gave me "hello, you whore".

I am glad we have plenty to eat.
Oh such horror, that hiding place-entry! And oh. When you have to cough you have to cough!
We still have no masks or sanatizing stuff.
We stay home... And am thank ful for internet & Co!

Great post.

Jodiebodie said...

Thank you for writing about Anne Frank. It is important that her story is never forgotten. Making the comparison between Anne's experience and our modern one is thoughtful, poignant and totally relevant. I would like to share the link to this blog post more widely because your words are important. I hope that this pandemic will make people realise how much they have in common and bring a sense of unity. I pray that people will not be driven by fear into selfish greediness or feed into narratives that promote stigma and discrimination. We have a lot to learn about Anne Frank's diaries.

Anca said...

I recently saw The Pianist and I was thinking of that. We have such a good life, even staying at home. These are hard times, but, even so, they are many times better than our families went through, during the wars and before that.

Stevenson Q said...

Jeanie, I am very much amazed by this post you shared with us! I really have thought about Anne these past weeks, especially when my Yeya (she took care of me when I was a baby and she stayed with our family until now after 30 years) celebrated her birthday last 31st, I can only think of something I have here because I can't buy her a present outside and I remember how Anne gave presents to the van Pels and the Franks during their time in hiding. These pictures are amazing and takes me back to my visit to Amsterdam and the museum last December.

Wishing you all the best and please stay safe! Love your blog!

Cavite Daily Photo
Stevenson Que Blog

R's Rue said...

Stay safe.

Victoria Zigler said...

This is a great post.

I've had to make some changes where food and supplies are concerned, and dog walks are limited, but other than that, the main issue for me is anxiety issues from all the worrying.

carol@The Red Painted Cottage said...

Jeanie, Someone posted about Anne Frank a few weeks ago on FB and it really does put things into perspective for us. Between the internet and streaming, there's so many ways we can keep from getting bored. Stay safe and Happy Easter!

Rita C at Panoply said...

Poignant post, Jeanie. While some may feel limited in their ability to move freely throughout society right now, my heart aches for those caught in situations most of us don't even think about. There are many, many men, women and children in WV (and elsewhere) who are literally trapped inside their homes right now in abusive situations or without food. Being cut off from school and work can possibly mean their last resort to security is cut. I hope we are each aware of our small opportunities to pay attention to those in need and be kind.

Sandra Cox said...

It's hard to believe, and terribly depressing, how brutal human beings can be to one another.
Stay safe. Stay healthy.

Anonymous said...

I’ve compared this to her situation too. A very well written piece. Cath.

Arti said...

Thanks for the reminder, Jeanie. We have it good compared to Anne Frank. Her experience is heart-wrenching. Your informative photos here are poignant. It's ironic too that she put down her thoughts and exp. in a diary, (I'm sure now, that's a ripple from Edith's Diary, not just Edith Crawley). Ironic because in the diary she's so upbeat and optimistic, and loving towards humanity. Hang in there, my friend. Hope this will pass soon. But realistically, I think it will be another month or two, at least. :(

Danielle L Zecher said...

You have no idea how much I needed to read this today. It really does help put things in perspective. I was complaining about how my puffy my eyes are since I've cried almost every day, but even having the ability to break down and cry in my quiet house is a luxury Anne Frank certainly didn't have, and one the people on the frontlines of this don't have.

I feel your pain on the whole not sleeping thing. It occurred to me recently that probably no one is going to get through this unscathed. It seems likely that most of us will lose someone we care about, or at the very least watch someone we care about lose someone they care about. That wakes me up in a total panic most nights. But at least we have a comfortable home, streaming TV/movies, books, and phone/internet to stay somewhat connected to people.

Thanks for a great post.

Hena Tayeb said...

You are so very right.. we should all be counting our blessings. We are lucky to be in our homes.. with food and family, still having the ability to virtually communicate with friends and family.. laugh, read and enjoy ourselves.

Beatrice P. Boyd said...

Jeanie, you have drawn some very interesting contrasts in this post. Self-isolation today is not the same as it was for Anne Frank and her family. We have more choices, food and ways to communicate without fear and, hopefully, if we adhere to prescribed guidelines will emerge safe when it is safe to not be confined.

Tammie Lee said...

So true, we have better tools for coping with this time in the world.
The only time this will be quite hard is if one gets sick. It does not sound as though loved ones can visit someone in the hospital or even sick at home.

Thanks for your thoughts on this.

Red Rose Alley said...

This is such an interesting post, Jeanie. I've watched a movie about the Anne Frank House, but to see what it really looked like inside really gives us an idea of the isolation and what the family went through. She was an exceptional young woman. In the movie, I saw that hiding place behind the book case, and it was chilling to watch as the soldiers entered that area. The whole story saddens me, but her character is a special one. I'm sorry you're feeling anxious and having bad dreams. It's a worrisome time for all. Sending you so much comfort and love during this difficult time, Jeanie.


The French Hutch said...

Such a wonderful post Jeanie, really does put things in perspective! We saw the Ann Frank house while in Amsterdam. I don't think I put the book down once I started reading, so moving. Hard to imagine and certainly gives one time to pause and think and be thankful things aren't as horrible as Ann's world. Stay well........

Sandi said...

"What would they think of supermarket wars over a package of toilet paper?"

I wonder if they would even recognize this as a crisis?

Hmm. Probably. Because I would bet the people of Anne's time became extraordinarily compassionate.

Sami said...

We certainly have it so much easier than Anne Frank did, still most of us complain!
Even though in isolation most people have access to social media and movies and books which should be enough to keep one busy.
I know I leave home to work 4 times a week at least but I wouldn't complain if I had to stay home, there is just so much I could do!
I've been to Amsterdam 3 or 4 times and never visited Anne Frank's house, the one time I wanted to do it the queue was so long we gave up.
Great post Jeanie.

Debbie-Dabble Blog and A Debbie-Dabble Christmas said...

Great post...very interesting!! I have been busy with yard work, setting up our front porch and back patio to enjoy, cooking, of all things and a bit of crafting so not much has changed for me. Our daily has no problem with finding what we need like TP and food as Joe is shopping daily after he is done working, bringing home what we need especially since our son Joey is living here with us. Otherwise, it is pretty much the same old thing for us... Thanks so much for stopping by!! Stay safe, healthy and happy!!

R's Rue said...


Judy at GoldCountryCottage said...

Jeanie, this is a wonderful post. In today's world we should never forget Anne's story and you have made a very clever comparison to our world today. I feel so lucky to be healthy and to know that my loved ones and friends are safe but we can never let down our guard as it is only a heartbeat away. Take care and stay well..xxoJudy

Sandra Cox said...

Anne Frank was such a brave, amazing young woman who dealt with things she should never have had to.

Elizabeth at Eiffel Tells said...

A poignant and moving post. Thank you and stay safe. xxx

Marilyn Miller said...

I think I was in high school when I read The Diary of Anne Frank. It left such an impact on me; so visiting their hide out just was amazing. So glad you were able to visit there too. I am amazed at the small space she lived in.

My name is Erika. said...

OK, I am back in catch up mode. Anne Frank certainly had it worse than we do, but what a good analogy to compare our being in stay at home mode to. Someday I would like to go visit Amsterdam and her house. It looks like an interesting place and she had such a poignant (and sad) story. Hugs-Erika

Carola Bartz said...

Very well said, Jeanie. And still - I dare not compare to Anne Frank's situation because it was so much worse than ours. We still have the freedom to take a walk, play in the garden, listen to LOUD music, talk, LAUGH, connect with friends over the phone or messaging, watch TV, dance... there is so much we can be grateful for and have a meaningful life.
My heart hurts for those who have lost their jobs, aren't paid because they need to stay home, have lost loved ones or are sick. There is a lot of suffering in our country. The more I am grateful and try to make the best of it.
I hope you do, too (I think I know you do), and stay healthy. All of us.

Little Wandering Wren said...

Yes in the context of Anne Franks life in hiding this is no biggie at the moment. Here in Thailand, we are lucky to have easy access to food, we even have a small supermarket in the apartment. We have a garden and we walk around this. Parks are closed but we have the car park walk in our building we are keeping cheerful!
Wren x

Pamela said...

I remember when I first read Anne Frank. Thanks for sharing your visit to her home. Hopefully, we’ll be able to travel again one day and I'll see it for myself. Stay safe.

My Tata's Cottage said...

Anne Frank was an amazing person. She has been on my mind during these times. Thank you so very much for sharing this with us . I hope you remain safe and healthy and blessed. Happy Easter!

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