Monday, June 25, 2007

World War II

By Princessa

Overview And Chronology Of The Story Of Anne Frank:

World War I (1914–1918) ended for Germany in total defeat. The German people were dissatisfied: the peace treaty was a great humiliation, there was no money, no work, and no hope of a better future. In the chaotic twenties an unknown young man from Austria had managed to work his way up to the position of leader (Fuhrer) of an insignificant party in Munich. His name was Adolf Hitler; the party called itself the NSDAP, and its followers were called "Nazis."

After an unsuccessful coup d'etat, Hitler was put in a comfortable prison, where he wrote down his plans and ideas in a book entitled Mein Kampf (My Struggle). He said that the German people were "Aryans" and that the "Aryan race" was the strongest and the best. All other races were inferior. The most inferior "race" in his eyes was the Jewish people. He blamed them for everything that was wrong and for all Germany's defeats. Hitler's ideas appealed to many in Germany. The NSDAP soon became a party to be reckoned with.

In 1933 Hitler was appointed Chancellor and quickly, within a year, he consolidated all power within his grasp. The concentration camps filled up steadily from then on, first with political opponents, particularly communists and trade union leaders, but soon with Jews, Gypsies, homosexuals, in brief everyone who disagreed with him or whom he regarded as inferior.

All of life in Germany from 1933 on was oriented towards preparation for war. Few, however, realized this. In September of 1939 World War II began with the invasion of Poland. Between then and 1945 this war was to cost nearly 55 million people their lives, among them six million Jews, most of whom were killed in the concentration camps.

In May 1940 the Netherlands was occupied and, in spite of no end of promises, the German system was introduced there as well. The economy was entirely oriented towards Germany and many Dutch men had to go and work like slaves in German factories.

In February 1941 the persecution of the Netherlands' 140,000 Jews began, 25,000 of whom were Jewish refugees from Germany, like the Frank family. No more than a few of them managed to go into hiding and thus escape the concentration camps and the gas chambers. Three out of every four Dutch Jews did not survive the war.

The occupation of Holland meant five years of repression, slave labor, terror, hunger, and fear. Unhappily, it also meant collaboration, but fortunately there was resistance as well. In any case, it meant the loss of an enormous number of innocent people. Anne Frank was one of them.


The Anne Frank House is a house like many others in the old part of Amsterdam. It was built in 1635 as a merchant's house, but has undergone many changes since then. The price of the houses was determined by their width, so people built lengthwise. The result was the long, narrow houses typical of Amsterdam. There had to be enough daylight, however, so the houses could not be too long. For this reason there were almost always two houses built one behind the other; one in front, a courtyard in between and an annex. The annex that served as the Frank family's hiding place attained its present form in 1740.

In 1940 Otto Frank established his wholesale business in herbs and spices in this house on the Prinsengracht. By the second year of the German occupation it was clear that Jews would inevitably be deported unless they found a place to hide. Otto Frank managed to do so, thanks to the help of his former employees.

In the first months of 1942 a hiding place was created in the empty annex for his family and that of Mr. Van Daan, who had had connections with Mr. Frank's business. The building that has become known as "Anne Frank's Annex" consists of the two upper floors and the attic of the annex. The entrance to the hiding place was hidden behind a hinged bookcase. Since the supply of herbs for the house in front had to be stored in the dark, the windows at the back were blacked out and painted over. In this way the Annex was hidden from view.

The windows at the back of the Annex were hung with thick lace curtains and were blacked out in the evenings, as were all windows in Amsterdam, by black slats. The Germans had ordered the blackout in order to make it more difficult for the Allied planes to find their way at night. Of course this also lessened the risk of the hideaways' being discovered. Anne Frank has described in inimitable fashion in her diary what life in the Annex was like for 25 long months.

After the discovery and deportation of its occupants, the Annex stood empty for a long time, but when in 1957 there was talk of demolishing it, a number of prominent citizens of Amsterdam established the Anne Frank Foundation in order to preserve the house. That year, with the overwhelming support of the people of Amsterdam and many others, the house on the Prinsengracht became the "Anne Frank House."

Anne Frank And Her Diary

1. 1929–1933. Anne Frank was born on June 12, 1929, in Frankfurt am Main, Germany. She was the second daughter of Otto Frank and Edith Frank-Hollander; her sister Margot was three years older.

2. 1933. To Amsterdam. In 1933 Adolf Hitler succeeded in becoming Chancellor of Germany. Soon after that the boycott of Jewish business began; in April the Jewish civil servants were fired. Otto Frank decided not to wait and see what would happen next, and left with his family for Amsterdam.

3. School years. The Frank family moved into a house on Merwede Square in Amsterdam. Anne went to the Montessori school in the same neighborhood. Between 1933 and 1939 hundreds of thousands of Jewish Germans sought refuge in other countries, but this was extremely difficult, especially after 1938.

4. The occupation of Holland. In May 1940 the German armies invaded Holland; five days later it surrendered and the occupation began. Many Dutch Jews hoped that the situation would not become as bad as it was in Germany. Mr. Frank was not so optimistic. The events of this period were noted down by Anne in her diary, which she had received for her 13th birthday.

5. Preparing to go into hiding. Mr. Frank had already begun converting the annex of his firm at Prinsengracht 263 into a hiding place. In the first months of 1942 household effects were brought over bit by bit. The two upper floors and the attic of the annex would be concealed by the hinged bookcase.

6. Going into hiding. At the beginning of July 1942, Margot received a summons ordering her to register for mandatory work. On July 6, 1942, the Frank family moved into the Annex, to be followed later by the Van Daan family and Mr. Dussel.

7. Daily life in the Annex. The hideaways tried to lead as normal a life as possible. For Anne, Margot and Peter Van Daan this meant studying and doing homework; they were not allowed to get behind with their schoolwork. The hideaways had to take care that no one heard them; not all the people in the office knew they were there.

8. Help. Mr. Koophuis and Mr. Kraler, two of Mr. Frank's former employees, were of inestimable value to the hideaways, as were the typists Miep and Elly. They provided food bought on the black market or with food stamps obtained by the underground. They provided the families with clothes, books, magazines, and all sorts of things.

9. Deportation. On August 1, 1944, Anne wrote her last entry in her diary. On August 4, 1944, a truck with German police and their Dutch cohorts appeared at the door. They walked straight to the bookcase, shouted "Open up!" and seized the terrified hideaways. A German policeman ordered everyone to hand over their jewelry and valuables. He took Mr. Frank's attache case, which contained Anne's notebooks, shook the contents out onto the floor, and put in what he wanted to take with him. Anne's papers were left behind. The hideaways were carried off, first to the police station, then to Westerbork. The last transport of Jews from Westerbork took them to Auschwitz.

10. The End. Mrs. Frank died of starvation in Auschwitz. Mr. Van Daan was gassed. Peter was carried off with the SS and reported missing when the approach of the Russians forced the Germans to evacuate Auschwitz.

Mr. Dussel died in Neuengamme. In late October Margot and Anne were deported to Germany, to the concentration camp Bergen-Belsen. This camp was packed with prisoners from other evacuated camps. Anne and Margot both came down with typhus. They died within a short time of each other in March 1945. Mrs. Van Daan also died in Bergen-Belsen. Mr. Frank was liberated from Auschwitz by Russian troops.

11. Publication of the Diary. Upon his return to Amsterdam Otto Frank realized that he was the only survivor. Then Miep, one of the helpers, gave him Anne's papers. After the hideaways had been taken away, the helpers had gone to the Annex and taken as much as they could with them. Shortly afterwards the Annex was ransacked. Miep had kept Anne's papers all that time. Acting on friends' advice, Otto Frank decided to publish Anne's diary. It appeared in 1947, entitled "The Annex," a title Anne herself had chosen.

12. Distribution of the Diary. French, English and German translations of the diary followed the appearance of the Dutch edition. The preface to the American edition was written by Eleanor Roosevelt. The diary has now appeared in more than fifty languages and countries. The total number of copies printed is estimated at more than 13 million. Both a play and a movie have been made of the diary.

A Chronology Of The Holocaust: Late April Through July 1945:

April 28 Benito Mussolini is executed by Italian partisans.
April 28–29 The U.S. 4th Infantry Division liberates a subcamp of Dachau.

April 29 Dachau concentration camp is liberated by the U.S. 20th Armored Division and the 42nd and 45th Infantry Divisions.

April 29–30 The Bolzano-Gries transit and concentration camp in northern Italy is liberated and then transferred to the International Red Cross.

April 30 Adolf Hitler and Eva Braun, whom he married the night before, commit suicide in their Berlin bunker. Admiral Karl Donitz succeeds Hitler.

Ravensbruck concentration camp is liberated by Soviet army units.

Judge Samuel Rosenman, Counsel to the President of the United States, presents his report on the economic needs in Europe. In the report he addresses the plight of European Jews, helping to provide the groundwork for the Harrison Report [see August 3 and September 29 entries].

The first of 96 British medical students from London arrive in Bergen-Belsen to help with relief work.

A fourth truck convoy of about 300 French prisoners, mostly women, arrives in Switzerland from Mauthausen. About ten had died during the trip.

Also in April Since the previous September, the French have arrested 126,000 people suspected of collaborating with the Germans. Of this total 55 percent were freed and 45 percent were passed to the courts for trial.

May 1 The British evacuate 7,000 sick inmates from Bergen-Belsen.

May 2 President Truman issues Executive Order 9547 to appoint Justice Robert H. Jackson of the U.S. Supreme Court as Chief Counsel for the United States to the UNWCC and as Chief Prosecutor to the projected international war crimes trial. He is authorized to represent the United States during negotiations to create such a tribunal.

The German garrison in Berlin surrenders to the Soviet army.

German forces surrender in Italy.

The Croatian concentration camp Jasenovac is liberated by units of the 21st Division of the Yugoslavian Army of National Liberation.

A poll conducted by the American Institute of Public Opinion asks Americans if reports that the Germans have killed many people in concentration and prison camps are true or false; 84 percent reply that they believe the stories to be true.

May 2–3 Subcamps of Dachau concentration camp are liberated by the U.S. 14th Armored Division.

May 3 The Psychological Warfare Section of SHAEF issues a 13-volume report on atrocities committed in France during the occupation.

Representative Clare Boothe Luce (R-Conn.) addresses the House of Representatives about conditions in Buchenwald she witnessed during her inspection visit of the concentration camp on April 21.

Commandant Ziereis hands his command of the Mauthausen concentration camp to the Police Commander of Vienna.

Theresienstadt is turned over to the International Red Cross.

In the early afternoon, British planes attack three ships holding concentration-camp prisoners in the Bay of Lubeck. The prisoners had come from Neuengamme and its subcamps, but also from Dora-Millelbau and Stutthof. The Cap Arcona and the Theilbek sank in the bay; the Athen, docked in Neustadt, escaped total destruction. Most of the prisoners on the Cap Arcona and Theilbek perish — burned or drowned on the ships, succumbed in the cold water, or shot by the SS — while many on the Athen survive. About 7,300 prisoners die, and some 3,100 are saved.

Wohebelin, a subcamp of Neuengamme, is liberated by the U.S. 82nd Airborne Division and 8th Infantry Division.

May 3–4 The U.S. 99th Infantry Division liberates a subcamp of Dachau concentration camp.

May 4 British troops liberate Neuengamme concentration camp.

During the evacuation of Loibl-Pass, a subcamp of Mauthausen, the prisoners are freed by Yugoslav partisans who attack the Germans guarding the marching prisoner column.

May 4–5 Ebensee, a subcamp of Mauthausen, is liberated by the U.S. 80th Infantry Division.

May 5 A message from General Eisenhower is broadcast in a number of languages to displaced persons in Europe. It directs them to "wait for orders" from Allied military authorities in an attempt to forestall the movement of masses of displaced persons that would interfere with Allied military operations and adversely affect law and order in areas already occupied by the Allies.

Gusen 1, a subcamp of Mauthausen, is liberated by the U.S. 11th Armored Division.

The International Red Cross reports more than 30,000 prisoners in Theresienstadt; no less than 12,000 of them are prisoners transferred from Dachau, Buchenwald, and Bergen-Belsen in the previous month.

May 5–6 Gunskirchen, a subcamp of Mauthausen, is liberated by the U.S. 71st Infantry Division, including African-American troops of the 761st Tank Battalion.

May 6 Mauthausen concentration camp is liberated by the U.S. 11th Armored Division.

May 7 General Alfred Jodl signs Germany's unconditional surrender at Reims, France.

The Soviet Extraordinary State Commission issues its report on Auschwitz, concluding that millions of people were killed in the camp.

The U.S. 9th Armored Division and 1st Infantry Division liberate Falkenau a.d. Eger, a subcamp of Flossenburg.

May 8 V-E Day.

SHAEF's Displaced Persons Executive sends an order to all military units stating, in part, that the care of displaced persons is a principal Allied objective.

The first Soviet Army tanks reach Theresienstadt en route to Prague.

May 10 Soviet troops liberate Stutthof concentration camp.

May 14 President Truman sends to General Eisenhower the eighth revision of Joint Chiefs of Staff order JCS 1067 that is to serve as the basic policy tool of U.S. occupation in Germany. JCS 1067 ordered the dissolution of the Nazi party; control of the press, education, and communications; the demilitarization of Germany; the decentralization of the German government; and the payment of reparations. In its final form it excluded the total dismantling of German industry sought by Secretary of the Treasury Henry Morgenthau, Jr.

May 18 Having visited the sites of Nazi concentration camps, Joseph Pulitzer, publisher and editor of the St. Louis Post Dispatch, addresses the Missouri Legislature.

May 19 Influential film critic, playwright, and screenwriter James Agee, writing in The Nation, attacks the release to the American public of details of Nazi atrocities, claiming that "such propaganda" — even if true — is designed to make Americans equate all Germans with the few who perpetrated the crimes.

May 20 Joseph Pulitzer publishes an illustrated, 125-page pamphlet, "A Report to the American People," in which he describes evidence of the atrocities he witnessed at Buchenwald and Dachau. In it he expresses his dismay that there are still Americans who say "this talk of atrocities is all propaganda."

May 21 In order to prevent the spread of typhus epidemics, British soldiers burn all the barracks in the former concentration camp at Bergen-Belsen. The site will be transformed into a DP camp.

May 23 Heinrich Himmler, chief of the SS, commits suicide after his capture by British forces.

May 27 In Munich, Jewish survivors celebrate liberation with a concert at Saint Ottilien convent.

May 29 Thirty-three days after U.S. troops liberated the town of Kaufbeuren, one child is killed in the local state hospital, thus becoming the last victim of the Nazi euthanasia killing program.

May 30 After negotiations lasting over a month, the British cabinet reverses itself and approves a U.S. draft proposal for a trial of the Nazi leadership. This follows French General de Gaulle's agreement to a trial the previous month. The United States and the Soviet Union had long supported such trial.

Also in May General Eisenhower, as Supreme Commander of Allied Forces, issues Proclamation No. 1, stating that all persons in occupied territory (Germany) must obey all orders of the Allied military government.

June 1 A delegation of the Jewish Brigade starts arriving at DP camps. This is the first group from Palestine to establish contact with Jewish survivors.

The first volume of "Surviving Remnant" (She'erit Ha-peletah), listing the names and locations of Jewish survivors, is published by Rabbi Abraham Klausner.

The forced repatriation of about 20,000 Russian Cossacks who had fought with the Wehrmacht begins in the Drau Valley region of Austria, an act based on an Allied agreement to repatriate all pre-1939 Soviet nationals without exception. By June 7, approximately 35,000 Cossacks and their families are turned over to the Soviets.

June 2 The first AJJDC staff to organize educational and welfare activities in the DP camps in Europe.

Zionist pioneers in Germany establish "Kibbutz Buchenwald," an agricultural training facility for survivors. The first group of trainees leaves Buchenwald for Palestine in August.

June 6 SHAEF complains that Allied field commanders have ignored previous instructions to equate the status of displaced persons with that of the persecuted people. It also orders that all DP children are to be transferred from Germany immediately, and that any person holding a card showing release from a concentration camp is entitled to admittance to a displaced persons camp.

June 7 Justice Jackson, Chief of Counsel for the United States in the Prosecution of Axis War Criminals, submits his report to President Truman.

June 8 Five hundred twenty orphaned Jewish children from Buchenwald enter France to become charges of the French government.

June 19 The U.S. War Department grants General Eisenhower limited authority to try war criminals.

June 20 The first congress of Zionists is held in Bavaria, in the American zone of occupation. The bylaws of the newly created Union of Jewish Survivors in the American Zone of Bavaria are adopted. The Union's main task is to represent the interests of displaced persons. The bylaws call for cooperation with the World Zionist Organization.

An unofficial delegation of five soldiers from the 2nd Battalion of the Jewish Brigade, headed by Aharon Hoter-Yishai and Rabbi Y. Lifschitz, enters the U.S. zone of occupied Germany. Their ostensible mission is to locate surviving members of their own families. They travel to Dachau, St. Ottilien, Landsberg, and Feldaling in southern Germany and Salzburg and Traunstein in western Austria. They organize the transportation of Jewish displaced persons from Germany and Austria to Italy and provide food, money, and transport via BET ALIYA centers in Italy for emigration to Palestine.

June 21 The U.S. government authorizes UNRRA to continue to work with displaced persons in the U.S. occupation zone of Germany under the auspices of the UNRRA-SHAEF Agreement of November 1944. The British follow suit on June 28.

June 22 Prompted by reports of poor conditions in DP camps, President Truman agrees that Earl G. Harrison, dean of the University of Pennsylvania Law School, head a commission to investigate the plight of displaced persons in Germany, with particular attention to be given to the situation of Jewish displaced persons.

June 26 Representatives from 51 nations sign the United Nations Charter in San Francisco.

June 27 The Soviet government agrees to allow 300,000 Polish Jews currently living in the Soviet Central Asian republics to emigrate to Palestine, provided that Arab states are in agreement. This was the result of negotiations among the "Big Three" at the Yalta Conference.

June 30 The exhibition "Lest We Forget" opens at the Library of Congress, Washington, D.C.

Also in June A Soviet judicial commission investigates crimes committed at Sachsenhausen concentration camp.

The first conference of liberated Jews in the British zone of occupied Germany takes place at Bergen-Belsen.

July 1 The AJJDC announces that it has distributed goods and relief parcels valued at $3,000,000 in Poland during the previous year.

The Central Committee of Liberated Jews for the U.S. zone of occupied Germany and Austria, one of the earliest Jewish DP organizations, is created during a meeting of survivors at the DP camp in Feldaling.

July 2 U.S. officers enter the Kaufbeuren state hospital to discover "a wholesale extermination plant," one part of the Nazi euthanasia killing program that had continued to operate even after Germany's unconditional surrender.

July 4 It is announced in Berlin that Gemma LaGuardia Gluck, sister of the mayor of New York, has been found safe with her daughter and grandson. After their transfer from Ravensbruck to Kaiserdamm prison in Berlin in April, they had been liberated by Soviet troops. Since then they had been living with a German family in the city.

July 5 The Central Committee of Liberated Jews in Bavaria is officially established in Munich.

July 15 As part of the official quota of Jewish immigrants allowed under the British mandate in Palestine, 1,164 Jewish refugees from Britain, France, and Italy arrive in Haifa. The group includes 500 children formerly being held in concentration camps.

July 16 The press is invited to the Grand Hotel in Bad Mondorf, Luxembourg, where the major defendants destined for the International Military Tribunal are being held.

United States Forces, European Theater (hereafter USFET) sets up Military Government Tribunals for war crimes trials.

July 17—August 2 The "Big Three" — President Truman, Marshal Stalin, and Prime Minister Churchill (who is succeeded by newly elected Prime Minister Clement Attlee on July 28) — meet at Potsdam, near Berlin.

July 20 The World Jewish Congress, meeting in London, appeals to the "Big Three" at the Potsdam Conference to remedy the poor conditions under which Jewish displaced persons are being held in Germany.

July 23 The trial of Marshal Petain before the French High Court of Justice begins.

July 25 A conference of 94 Jewish DP delegates representing 40,000 Jewish survivors in the American and British zones of Germany and Austria meets as St. Ottilien, Munich, under the sponsorship of members of the Jewish Brigade. The next day, the conference meets in the beer hall where Hitler had staged the 1923 putsch; there they read a proclamation demanding that all liberated Jews be allowed to emigrate to Palestine.

Anne Frank's Legacy:

The 50th anniversary of Anne Frank's death offers us the opportunity to reflect upon and consider the horrible events which led up to her death. It also allows us to contemplate how the world has changed since 1945, when the Allies liberated the concentration camps and confronted the horror of the Holocaust.

One immediate response to the Holocaust and World War II was the establishment of the United Nations, "so that the events which had brought untold sorrow to mankind during the great and terrible war . . . might never recur" (Charter of the United Nations and the Constitution of UNESCO). The United Nations since established the "Declaration of Human Rights" and has declared 1995 the "International Year of Tolerance."

This declaration is extremely important, since the absence of tolerance was central to the Nazis' inherently discriminatory ideology and policies. The U.N. declaration rightfully states that, although people need their beliefs, these beliefs should not create an exclusionary climate.

The International Year of Tolerance emphasizes that, although every individual is different in terms of their talents, convictions, or beliefs, all are equal in dignity, and these differences enrich both the individual and the society.

The worldwide protection of democracy and human rights has been an ideal since the Nazis were finally defeated in 1945, since we began the painful task of explaining how the Holocaust could have happened in the modern era. Yet we are far from realizing this goal. Throughout the world men, women, and children continue to be treated inhumanly or in a degrading way.

In the memory of Anne Frank, we must recommit ourselves to her dream of a better world. A world in which an innocent young girl would not be judged, discriminated against, and ultimately killed for her beliefs. To reach this goal the International Year of Tolerance will develop educational programs that will provide, at the earliest possible age, the basis for responsible judgment. It will promote an attitude "devoid of arrogance between the generations, the sexes, individuals and communities, and between the human race and nature" ("Question of a United Nations Year for Tolerance"). Thus, the United Nations is challenging us to redefine tolerance and strengthen the essential foundation for the establishment of a culture of tolerance.

This new understanding of tolerance is critically important. The concept of tolerance still embodies an attitude of benevolence, adopted by those who actually feel superior to the recipient of this tolerance. Simply tolerating another person is not the same as accepting that person as equal in dignity. Only those in a dominant (or majority) position can say that they are tolerant of others. For example, if Jews, or African-Americans, or another U.S. minority group stated that they "tolerated" other Americans, it would be considered a joke. Only those in a weaker position enjoy the "pleasure" of being tolerated. The notion is quite offensive to those who want to be considered "equal."

The Jewish people were once tolerated in Germany throughout the early 1900s. Tolerance, as a social ideal, did not save the lives or civil liberties of over six million Jews in Europe. Tolerance did not spare the lives of over half the European Roma (Gypsy) population or over 70,000 people with mental or physical handicaps. Tolerance was a hollow promise to the 5,000 Jehovah's Witnesses or the 10,000 homosexual men imprisoned by the Nazi regime. Tens of thousands of other political or religious prisoners who were executed by the Nazis were not saved by the tolerance extended to them by cosmopolitan Europe in the late 1920s and 1930s.

Today, true respect for our neighbors and fellow citizens is disturbingly absent. Anne Frank's story teaches us that such respect is the prerequisite for a society in which everyone feels secure. This respect will ensure that the civil liberties on which this country was founded are protected for everyone. We need educational programs that teach students to consider all other people — irrespective of their ethnic descent or beliefs — as individuals, whose acceptance only depends on the social, law-abiding behavior of this person.

We are deeply committed to preserving Anne's legacy. And on this 50th anniversary of her death we shall challenge ourselves to fight even harder for the ideals she so eloquently described in her diary.

Anne Frank ~ A Look Back:

The year 1995 marks the 50th anniversary not only of the end of World War II, but of Anne Frank's death. Imprisoned in the Bergen-Belsen concentration camp after her family was captured hiding in Amsterdam, Anne died just one month before liberation. Today, her diary lives on as a powerful symbol of the importance of human rights.
The Frank family had been in hiding for just over two years when the police raided their "Secret Annex" on August 4, 1944. The Franks and the other four residents of the annex were taken to the Westerbork transit camp, and then to Auschwitz. As Allied forces neared Poland, however, the Nazis transferred many inmates, including Anne and Margot Frank, to Bergen-Belsen, a concentration camp in Germany.

Anne and Margot suffered horribly at Bergen-Belsen. The conditions in the camp — unheated barracks during the winter, inadequate clothing, little food, and no medical attention — resulted in their early deaths. Anne was 15 and Margot 17 when they died. Anne and Margot were two of close to 18,000 inmates who died in Bergen-Belsen in March 1945. At that time, the average population of the camp had reached about 44,000 people, and as the Allies moved closer and closer, more trainloads of prisoners were brought in nearly every day.

In late April 1945, the camp was liberated by the British army. Liberators were horrified by what they saw. Approximately 40,000 inmates remained alive, many of them infected with typhus. Following liberation, 13,000 more prisoners died. After the war, the 27,000 remaining prisoners were repatriated. Unfortunately, after 12 years of Nazi reign, there was little to return to.

In June 1945, after being liberated from Auschwitz, Otto Frank returned to Amsterdam where he was reunited with Jan and Miep Gies, who had hidden the Franks in the "Secret Annex." By that time, Otto knew that his wife had died in Auschwitz, but he was unsure about the fate of his daughters. When he received word of their deaths, Miep Gies, who had kept Anne's diary, gave it to Otto. Published in 1955, the diary has been translated into 55 languages and sold throughout the world.

At The Holocaust Museum:

The doors of the elevator close quickly behind you. Inside, the walls are paneled with plain gray steel. You get the feeling that you're trapped, that something bad is about to happen. A video monitor mounted to the ceiling flickers on as you begin to rise. "We have come across something, we're not sure what it is," says the voice of an American soldier, as World War II-era American tanks roll past a barbed-wire enclosure. "It's some kind of prison," the soldier says, obviously upset. "There are people lying all over. Sick, dying, starved people. Things like this don't happen. You can't imagine." Then the elevator doors glide silently open.

It takes a moment for your eyes to register the first image at the Holocaust Memorial Museum. It looks like the remains of a wooden house that has burned to the ground. But the enormous black-and-white photo facing the elevator shows the charred corpses of more than 50 Jews killed in the Ohrdruf concentration camp. Standing at the side of the photo, 16-year-old Laurie Corder and her twin brother, Matt, who are visiting with their parents from Chicago, are speechless at first.

"Those are bodies," Laurie says after a moment. "They look fake."

"God," Matt says, "what happened to these guys?"

Making sure the world knows exactly what happened to these 50 Jewish prisoners, and to the 6 million Jews and other victims who were systematically exterminated by Nazi Germany during World War II, is the mission of the Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington, D.C. Since it opened its doors in 1993, more than 3.5 million people have come to see the museum's powerful exhibits.

On most days, the museum is full, and today is no exception. Most of the visitors are teenagers, here on school-sponsored trips. Whether they're Jewish or not, nearly everyone finds the museum an emotional place to visit.

The buildings have been designed to make visitors uneasy. Stark brick and steel halls echo the look of the barracks and gas chambers of Nazi concentration camps. But the most powerful effect is created by viewing the museum's exhibits. It is "a thought-provoking and personally upsetting experience," says Jeshajahu Weinberg, the museum's director, "and so it should be. The museum has been built to tell the factual story of the most terrible event in modern history."

The museum's main exhibition begins on the fourth floor with a simple statement printed on the wall: "In 1933, there were more than nine million Jews living in continental Europe. Within a dozen years, two-thirds of them would be dead." The museum attempts to answer the question that nearly everyone asks when confronted with the fact: How could this happen?

Ancient History?

Many of the students crowded into the fourth floor look bored with material that seems like ancient history. Video screens and black-and-white photos document how ancient anti-Semitism, or prejudice against Jews, was exploited by German leader Adolf Hitler during his rise to power. Suffering through the worldwide Depression of the 1930s and still smarting from their defeat in World War I, the Germans wanted a scapegoat. And Hitler offered them the Jews. Students pause to watch videos of Hitler addressing huge rallies, declaring that "cleansing" the nation of Jews and other "undesirables," such as homosexuals, Gypsies, and the handicapped, will make Germany great again.

The Nazi assault on the Jews of Europe began with acts of discrimination common to Jews for centuries – beatings and boycotts. Many Jews thought that if they were patient, the storm of Nazi anti-Semitism would eventually blow over. Those who tried to leave Europe found few countries willing to accept them. As you descend to the third floor of the museum, you begin to feel the Nazi net tightening around Europe's Jews.

"In defending myself against the Jews I am acting for the Lord," reads a quote from Hitler lettered on a wall. "The difference between the church and me is that I am finishing the job." Finishing the job meant enacting his "Final Solution to the Jewish Question," the Nazi plan to kill all Jews in lands under German control. The first phase of the Final Solution involved herding Jews into "ghettos," where they were isolated from the non-Jewish population. From the ghettos, they were funneled into a system of concentration camps that, by the end of World War II, numbered more than 1,000.

On the museum's third floor, all visitors must pass through a railway freight car that was used to transport prisoners to death camps in Poland. It is a small, wooden car with slits for windows. A sign explains that as many as 100 people would be crowded inside for days without food or water. Rachel Stern, 16, and her classmates from San Francisco step quickly back after entering the car. "I can't go in there," Rachel says. "It smells."

"This probably smells like perfume compared to what it was like with 100 people inside," says her friend Scott Swenson, 17. They cautiously enter the car, touching the scratches on the bare wooden walls, imagining the terror of being locked inside. When they walk out, they are quiet.

Remnants of Terror

The centerpiece of the museum is a re-creation of Auschwitz, the notorious death camp in Poland, where more than one million people were killed. You pass through an iron gate, past piles of cutlery, scissors, and toothbrushes that were confiscated as prisoners arrived, and heaps of human hair that was shaved from their scalps. Visitors file past a model of a gas chamber into which up to 1,000 prisoners were herded at once, then killed with deadly Zyklon-B gas dropped through vents in the ceiling. Finally, after the gas chamber, you came to a replica of Auschwitz's ovens, which could burn dozens of corpses at one time. Nearby, 15-year-old Suparna Rajmane, who is visiting from Bombay, India, with her parents, sits on a bench. She is listening to a recording of an Auschwitz survivor speaking about the day she arrived at the camp. "A man in a uniform pointed me one way and my parents in another," says the voice of Fritzie Fritzshall. "'When will I see my mother again?' I asked him. He pointed to the smoke coming out of the chimneys. I was 15, and all alone in this hell."

Suparna is visibly shaken. "It's one thing to know that Nazis murdered millions of people," she says. "It's another to put yourself in their place."

On the second floor, where the exhibition ends, visitors learn of the aftermath of the Holocaust. They learn that Gypsies, homosexuals, political prisoners, and the handicapped perished alongside Jews. They see how millions of refugees struggled to survive in Europe after World War II. And they learn of the creation of Israel in 1948, which provided sanctuary for many of Europe's remaining Jews.

Then the material comes full circle, with video monitors playing film of American, British, and Russian soldiers encountering the human devastation of the concentration camps for the first time. The Corder family hunches over one monitor and watches gruesome footage of British soldiers pushing children's corpses into a mass grave with bulldozers. "God, look at those bodies," Laurie says to her brother between sobs, "the sores on them . . . Those are just boys."

The Living Past

For many of the students who have passed through the exhibition, the distant historical world contained in the photo of corpses that greeted them by the elevators has been brought to life.

It hasn't been a pleasant process and not everyone is glad they've come. But nearly all who've passed through the museum have been affected by what they've seen. "I didn't think I needed to come here," says 17-year-old Latania Dupree, who was required to come with her social-studies class from Baltimore, "but I learned a lot. I knew Hitler killed a lot of Jews. But this shows you it wasn't just one crazy guy. It was planned by a whole lot of people. They ran it all like a factory. People need to come here and see this so they don't let something like this happen ever again."

Never Again:

Lee Potasinski (puh-tah-ZEEN-ski) was only 12 when liberation came. A Polish Jew, he already had spent three years in Nazi concentration camps. But now, in April and May of 1944, Allied armies were closing in from east and west.

"The Nazi guards wanted to take us into the woods and shoot us all," Potasinski told Junior Scholastic. But many guards, realizing that defeat was near, slipped away. "That morning, a friend and I went out and the guards were gone. Then two jeeps pulled into camp. I had no idea who these people were. . . . I asked if they spoke German and one man said "yes" in a friendly tone of voice. They were Americans. . . . We ran back to tell the others. Everyone stood together and hugged and cried."

Potasinski was freed. But for the rest of his family and six million other Jews, it was too late. They had been killed, wiped out by the scorching hatred of Adolf Hitler and his Nazis. Many people consider this to be the darkest chapter in all of human history: the Holocaust.

The Final Solution
How could such a thing happen? The Holocaust grew out of Europe's long history of anti-Semitism (prejudice against Jews). For centuries, Jews had been the continent's scapegoats and victims.
Adolf Hitler and his Nazi Party took advantage of these feelings to help gain political power. Hitler had a maniacal (crazy) hatred for Jews. He blamed them for Germany's defeat in World War I, and for all of the country's economic troubles. Once Hitler became dictator in 1933, Germany's government passed many laws that deprived Jews of their rights, liberty, and property.

After the German army's lightning-fast conquest of Europe in 1939—1940, the Nazi campaign against the Jews turned into a nightmare. The Nazis launched their "Final Solution to the Jewish Question." That "solution" called for the murder of every single Jew in Europe.

At first, Nazi death squads went to captured cities and towns. They lined up Jews — from old men to babies in their mothers' arms — and executed them.

This method was too slow for the Nazis. So they built death camps throughout central and eastern Europe. The camps were equipped with gas chambers that could kill as many as 2,000 prisoners at a time. Incinerators were built to burn the bodies.

Jews and other prisoners were taken to the camps in railroad freight cars. A camp officer would then "select" which prisoners would live and die. Able-bodied men and women were selected as slave laborers. The others — children, the elderly and disabled, and mothers with young children — were marked for death.

The gas chambers were disguised to look like showers. Many victims did not realize the trick until it was too late. Uprisings by prisoners were brutally crushed.

In addition to Jews, five million other "undesirables" died at Nazi hands during the Holocaust. Nearly 500,000 Gypsies were murdered, as well as Poles, Russians, homosexuals, the physically disabled, and the mentally ill.

Many people in the camps died of starvation and disease. As Allied armies were closing in on the camps, the Germans forced prisoners who could walk — including Lee Potasinski — to go on death marches. The Germans often blew up gas chambers and incinerators in an attempt to destroy evidence of Nazi atrocities (horrific crimes).

The World Faces the Holocaust

Allied leaders had heard reports of mass murder. But nothing could prepare their troops for the dead and dying people they found in the camps. Battle-hardened soldiers broke down and cried. Photographs and films of the piles of corpses shocked the world.

Hitler committed suicide on April 30, 1945. After Germany surrendered, Nazi leaders accused of war crimes were tried at the Nuremberg Trials. Dozens were hanged for their crimes. Before his execution, Rudolf Höss (huhss), commander of the Auschwitz (OWSH-vihts) death camp, wrote: "We were all so trained to obey orders without even thinking that the thought of disobeying an order would simply never have occurred to anybody. . . ."

Those orders led to one of the largest mass murders in history. In 1942, 11 million Jews lived in Europe. By the end of the war, only five million were still alive.

As a result of the Holocaust, the United Nations (UN) approved a plan in 1947 to create a Jewish homeland. After the state of Israel was born in 1948, millions of European Jews moved there to rebuild their shattered lives. They adopted an unofficial motto: "Never again."

A Painful Reunion:

In 1995, marking the 50th anniversary of the end of World War II, two groups of people gathered in the country of Poland to remember a nightmare.

On January 27, Jews from all over the world came together with a group of Polish people at a place called Auschwitz (OW-shvitz). It was the site of a Nazi prison where they had been held captive during the war. The two groups commemorated the day 50 years ago when soldiers from the Soviet Union set them free.

Auschwitz was one of more than 25 Nazi prisons called "concentration camps." In these brutal camps, people were killed or forced to work until they died. Most of the prisoners were Jews. But there were also other peoples, including Poles, Gypsies, blacks, and the disabled. They were imprisoned as part of Adolph Hitler's plan to get rid of European peoples he did not like.

Beginning in 1940, millions of innocent victims were rounded up and shipped to the camps. Once there, husbands were separated from wives. Children were taken from their parents. People who were weak or sick were immediately executed. Thousands more starved or died of diseases.

By the end of the war, about six million Jews and millions of other people had died in what later became known as the "Holocaust."

Fifty years after being freed from Auschwitz, writer Elie Wiesel (EE-lee vee-ZEHL) returned to Poland. "That day and night," wrote Wiesel, "the last I spent in Auschwitz, haunt me even now."

Why Do People Become Nazis:

Some reasons may be the severe economic depression (hyperinflation) which caused shortages in everything. This and the very hard feelings over the Versailles Treaty (extremely revengeful and harsh on Germany) were causes. The social conditions were ripe for a group like the Nazis to step in and "feed the fires." They focused the blame on opposing groups, sought revenge for Germany's treatment under the treaty, and claimed they would reinstall German national pride.

Look at conditions in inner cities and and you see how gangs can form. People were looking to belong to something and for a way to vent their stored-up hates. The Allies did everything they could to punsih Germany as harshly as possible after WW I. If Premier Clemenceau (France) had his way fully there would have been no more Germany. Millions faced starvation while the peace talks went on because the Allis refused to allow food shipments during the talks.

Hitler and the Nazi Party gathered their recruits from those wanting revenge.

Many people became Nazis because they were caught up in Hitler's enthusiasm, and they feared for their own lives.

Most Germans did not become Nazis, they went along with the party because it promised them things that they wanted and needed. It provided for their livelihood. Hitler promised them jobs, food, clothing. He especially provided them with pride and the opportunity to get back what they had lost.

The democratic government in Germany never got a chance to get on its feet because the needs were so great and people want what they need NOW! There was no Marshall Plan after WW I.

Hitler also promised revenge and to bring together all Germans from everywhere. Germany's history was of a fragmented background and there had not been any real success at unifying the German people until Bismarck. Hitler was offering them the opportunity to unify. The Nazi Party was to be the means to accomplish this.

You don't get something for nothing and the price was to suffer a little to accomplish that unification. A little loss of freedom, of civil liberties, etc. The Nazi Party became a means to an end for many. An end that they would regret by 1945.

Anne Frank In The World: 1929-1945


Anne Frank was born in the waning years of the democratic Weimar Republic. Unemployment, inflatation, labor unrest and rising violence were all associated in the popular mind with the inability and the inefficiency of the Weimar politicians. The Nazi Party was among those benefiting from the unsettled political and economic times. Its program promised to restore honor and greatness to Germany. To accomplish these goals, they advocated a Germany free of Jews, and other groups who endangered the destiny of the Third Reich.


The increasing persecution of political opponents and Jews is described in panels discussing the anti-Jewish boycott and "Kristallnacht."

By 1933 the Frank family decided to move to Amsterdam, the Netherlands, which had a history of political and religious tolerance. Once in Amsterdam, Anne and Margot attended school, played with friends in their neighborhood, and Otto Frank established a new business. But the Nazis already had plans to expand the Third Reich throughout Europe. The Franks' safe haven quickly disappeared.


In May 1940, Nazi forces turned westward and invaded the Netherlands, Belgium, and France. Dutch Jews were forced to wear the yellow Star of David, and their actions were severely restricted. With the increasing threat of deportation, the Frank family went into hiding on July 6, 1942. For over two years, Anne Frank, her family, and four others shared the small annex above her father's business. During this time Anne recorded her thoughts, feelings, and the horror going on around her in her diary.

While Anne Frank and her family were hiding in Amsterdam, the Nazis were implementing what they called "The Final Solution," their plan to exterminate every European Jew. On August 4, 1944, the Nazis raided the Franks' hiding place, deporting all the annex residents to Westerbork, and then Auschwitz. Anne and Margot Frank were later sent to Bergen-Belsen, where they died of typhus in March 1945. Of the eight people hiding in the annex, only Otto Frank survived.


The exhibition portrays the end of World War II, the liberation of the camps, and the subsequent post-war Nuremburg Trials. The immediate political aftershocks of the war, such as the division of Europe, and contemporary topics, such as neo-Nazis, are also examined.


The exhibition illustrates that Anne Frank and her family, like the other victims of the Holocaust, were ordinary people. Hitler and the Nazi party blamed Jews for many of Germany's problems, turning them into scapegoats. Anne Frank's story is an example of the horrendous consequences of anti-Semitism and discrimination.


Hitler achieved power through democratic means and popular support. Playing on feelings of anti-Semitism, nationalism, and racism, the Nazis found a wide base of support in Germany. Millions of people began to believe in the Nazi idea that Aryans were the "master race." This belief allowed the Nazis to target Jews for extinction. It also contributed to persecution against many others, including the handicapped, the Gypsies, homosexuals, and Jehovah Witnesses.


Through examples of help and resistance during the war, the exhibition shows that participating in discrimination is an individual choice. Deciding to discriminate is not based on one's race, ethnicity, or religion. Instead, one's belief in human rights is a personal choice.


Racism, anti-Semitism and other forms of discrimination, based on stereotypes, continue to be prevalent today. Stereotyping is common because it is a convenient, easy way to explain pressing social problems. But stereotyping is extremely dangerous because it dehumanizes people.

Choosing to believe in equality and human rights, rather than in racism and discrimination, is instrumental to creating a just world. As the exhibition demonstrates, the lack of such convictions played a powerful role in the Holocaust.

The World At War:

It was, in the true sense of the world, a world war. By 1942, tens of millions of soldiers were engaged in the most destructive conflict ever. The battle storm engulfed two oceans and five continents, while filling the skies with planes sent on missions of death. For six brutal years, no corner of the globe was safe.

The war spread from the streets of Europe to the jungles of Southeast Asia, the deserts of North Africa, and the islands of the Pacific. It began on September 1, 1939, when Nazi Germany, led by Adolf Hitler, invaded Poland and carved a path of death and destruction through other countries in Western Europe. By 1940, Great Britain was the only European country in Hitler's way. Italy joined the war on Germany's side, and the fighting soon spread to Greece and North Africa.

After the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor and swept through the Pacific in December 1941, the United States joined the war. Germany, Italy, and Japan formed an alliance called the Axis, and the U.S., Great Britain, China, and the Soviet Union led the Allies.

In 1942, the Allies turned the tide. They stopped Axis advances in North Africa, the Soviet Union, and the Pacific. They defeated Japan in the Battle of Midway. Then, on D-Day, June 6, 1944, they landed on the beaches of Normandy, France, and drove into Germany, while the Soviet army closed in from the east. Germany surrendered on May 7, 1945.

A series of battles in the Pacific brought the Allies to Japan's doorstep that same year. Then, on August 6 and 9, the U.S. unleashed a fearsome new weapon, dropping two atomic bombs on Japan. In a week, the Japanese had surrendered. The war was over, at a cost of perhaps 50 million lives, 407,000 of them American.

The Home-Front Herald:

Leaving Home!

FEBRUARY 1942 — America's war effort is only two months old. But already, folks on the home front have been hit with a double whammy.

First, their sons, brothers, boyfriends, husbands, and fathers are going off to war. Second, they are learning to live with rationing (using items sparingly) and shortages of food, clothes, and gasoline.

The U.S. armed forces began the draft (requiring men to join the military) even before the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941. The bombing forced the U.S. into World War II and boosted the military's need for men to fight the Axis powers — Japan, Germany, and Italy. Now all men between the ages of 18 and 45 are eligible to be drafted.

Americans on the home front also are being asked to make sacrifices for the war. So far, sugar is the only item to be rationed. But many other items, such as clothing, are expected to follow. Each family is given a ration book with a certain number of ration points in it. For example, it takes eight points to buy a pound of sugar.

Some Americans are grumbling about rationing and shortages. They complain that there is no way to know what will suddenly be unavailable. One week it might be butter, the next week it might be meat. But those who grumble too loud usually get an abrupt reminder that there is a war on.

U.S. Youngsters Fight the Axis

JUNE 1942 — An army of children has fanned out across the U.S. to collect scrap metal, cloth, paper, and rubber to help the war effort. Scrap metal and other recyclable products are needed so that there will be enough materials to produce weapons and clothes for American GIs (a nickname for U.S. soldiers).

U.S. government officials say that the recycling drives are a great way for young people to feel as if they are part of the war effort. Scrap drives are not the only contribution that U.S. youngsters are making. They also are buying war stamps for 10 and 25 cents each. After they have bought enough stamps, they can buy a war bond. War bonds, which come in amounts of $25, $50, $100, $500, or $1,000, help to fund the U.S. war effort.

That's not all. Americans of all ages are helping the war effort by planting "victory gardens" in backyards, vacant lots, parks, playgrounds, and in just about any patch of land that will grow vegetables. Experts estimate that the gardens will soon grow one third of the nation's vegetables.

Frankie Wows Bobby-soxers

DECEMBER 1942 — Who's the Dream-Prince singer that all the bobby-soxers have been shrieking over at New York's Paramount Theater? It's none other than Frankie Sinatra, the King of Swoon. Frankie is popular with youngsters partly because he looks like one of them, even though he's in his mid-20s. He managed to stay out of the army because he's 4-F (unfit for military service), due to a ruptured eardrum.

Some of his adult critics say that Frankie sings like he has two ruptured eardrums. Other adults accuse him of encouraging improper behavior by their daughters. As one congressman said, " 'The Lone Ranger' and Frank Sinatra are the prime [forces behind] juvenile delinquency [misbehavior] in America." But try telling that to young girls who pack his concerts and tear at his clothes in hopes of getting a souvenir. Youngsters also are packing movie theaters across the country. For a dime, moviegoers can see the latest war newsreel, a cartoon or two, and a feature film — often, a double feature.

Despite the popularity of movies, radio remains the most common form of entertainment in the U.S. News broadcasts have become more popular than ever because of the war. But people mostly listen to the radio for entertainment. They especially like listening to comedians like Fred Allen, Jack Benny, and Bob Hope. Also popular are situation comedies like "Fibber McGee and Molly." Millions of Americans also tune in every week to exciting radio dramas like "Gangbusters," "The Lone Ranger," and "The Shadow."


Military Loosens Censorship Rules

SEPTEMBER 1943 — In a surprising move, U.S. government censors have begun allowing newspapers and magazines to show photos of U.S. servicemen killed in action. (Censors are officials who decide what war information is safe to print or broadcast.)

Ever since Japanese planes bombed Pearl Harbor, the U.S. government has closely censored the press. The First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution guarantees freedom of the press in peacetime. But the country is at war, and President Franklin D. Roosevelt has emergency powers. Information that the government feels would help the enemy is kept under wraps.

Government censorship has been toughest on photos and newsreels. U.S. officials were afraid that shocking photos of U.S. war dead might destroy Americans' will to fight.

Officials changed their minds because they are worried that people have become too confident of an Allied victory. War-dead photos may prod people into working harder and sacrificing more.


Terrible Telegrams

The Axis leaders Hitler, Mussolini, and Tojo may be the most hated men in America. But the most feared man in America is probably the Western Union deliveryman.

The military often uses Western Union telegrams to notify families when a relative is injured, killed, or missing in action. So when people see a Western Union man walk up to their door, they fear that the news is bad.


War Helps Women and Blacks Get Better Jobs

SEPTEMBER 1944 — The war has been a terrible burden for most Americans. But it also has given women and blacks opportunities that they never had in peacetime.

Women have taken over many of the jobs of men who have gone off to war. More than two million women now work in war plants and shipyards, where they have earned the nickname of "Rosie the riveter."

Not all women are happy to be working outside the home. But the jobs are giving women more independence than ever before, even though they are paid less than men for the same work.

Black men and women also are getting a crack at jobs formerly closed to them.

Women and blacks are serving with distinction in the U.S. military. Women are taking noncombat roles in all branches of the armed forces. Blacks, who must serve in segregated (racially separate) units, have proven themselves in battle. But they still face tremendous racism.



AUGUST 1945 — The war is over!

Japan surrendered after the U.S. dropped atomic bombs on the cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

Germany surrendered last May and Italy, the weakest of the three main Axis countries, was knocked out of the war in 1943. From the smallest town to the biggest city, Americans are celebrating. Yet, for many, it is a sad time, too. More than 406,000 Americans were killed in the war. Many families will never get over their losses.

The U.S. also lost its great leader, President Franklin D. Roosevelt, who died in April. At the beginning of the war, Roosevelt promised to make the U.S. the "arsenal for democracy." He did that and more. American planes, ships, guns, and tanks gave U.S. military forces an edge that its enemies could not match. U.S. war production also made it possible for its allies, such as Great Britain and the Soviet Union, to continue fighting when they were almost defeated. Soviet leader Joseph Stalin, a bitter enemy of the U.S. before the war, has toasted America's industry. "To American production," he said, "without which this war would have been lost."

World War II greatly boosted the once-ailing U.S. economy. Massive spending on the war brought an end to the unemployment of the Great Depression. Average U.S. weekly wages doubled between 1939 and 1944. As journalist Edward R. Murrow put it, "We are the only nation which has raised its standard of living since the war began."

The war has left the U.S. the richest country in the world. It also is the most powerful — the only country with the technology to make atomic bombs. This gives the U.S. a huge responsibility as a world leader.

On June 3, 1942, the Japanese launched a diversionary attack on the Aleutians to divert attention from their planned attack on Midway Island.

The U.S. base at Dutch Harbor was attacked; fortunately, the attack did not fool Adm. Nimitz. The resulting battle at Midway, an American victory, was a turning point of the war in the Pacific.

Japanese troops, however, did occupy two western islands in the Aleutians, Attu and Kiska. The following summer the islands were retaken. A little-known prize was captured — an intact Japanese Zero fighter. Its capture helped lead to better methods of defeating this formidable fighter.

It was the U.S. 7th Infantry Division that took Attu, and there was a strong Japanese garrison there. The fighting has been described as fierce, with the Japanese resorting to suicidal, frontal, all-out assaults when their supplies ran low. Only 28 of the 2,500-man garrison survived and over 1,000 U.S. troops were killed. Fighting in the Aleutians included the terrible Arctic weather. Kiska was captured without a fight, the Japanese having retreated with the 6,000 men that were stationed there before the invasion. The general in charge of that force was Gen. Simon Buckner. He would later lead the invasion of Okinawa and be killed there as the head of the Tenth Army.

A World in Flames: World War II Facts:

Over the course of six years, World War II spread around the earth. In all, more than 50 countries were directly involved in the war. Here are some more facts about the effects of World War II.

Number of people killed in the war: 45 million

Number of Europeans left homeless by war: 12 million

Number of Americans who joined the armed forces: 12 million

Number of Americans who moved to take on war jobs: 15 million

Number of B-17 "Flying Fortress" bombers built: 13 thousand

Amount of post-war aid given by U.S. to Western Europe: $17 billion

Reparations paid by Italy after war: $36 million


True Stories: Oral History How-to’s:

Reading or watching documentaries about World War II is a good way to learn about the history of the era. And with the 50th anniversary of the end of the war upon us, bookstores and TV will soon be filled with memoirs and other histories of the conflict. But there's an even better way for you to experience the events of the war: through oral history.

Oral histories capture the memories and experiences of ordinary people who have lived through extraordinary events and can bring those events to life in a way that no history book can. On the previous pages we presented the oral histories of people who lived through World War II. Each had a unique story to tell about the great drama of the war. Luckily, many people who have similar stories to tell are still alive and, with some coaxing, will be glad to tell them.

That's what students at Lewis F. Mayer Junior High School in Fairview Park, Ohio, found out recently when they were assigned to interview grandparents and others who lived through the war.

"It was hard for my grandfather to talk about the war at first, but he eventually told me a lot of stories," says Jim Brown, a 10th-grader. "My grandfather's in his 70s now. During World War II, he was a deck gunner and he got his thumb blown off when his ship was attacked." In another incident, Jim's grandfather was serving on an American submarine when an English ship mistook his sub for a German U-boat, and began firing on it. "Talking to my grandfather made me understand the war a little more," says Jim. "It seemed more real to me."

Fellow 10th-grader Craig Coles's grandfather was a truck driver on the European Front. "He never saw combat, but he was proud of serving his country," says Craig. On the day the war ended, Craig's grandfather was so happy that he "traded hats with a German soldier." A next-door neighbor also told Craig stories from World War II. "He used to fly B-29s in the Pacific and was shot down and taken to a Japanese prison camp."

If you'd like to compile your own oral histories of World War II, or any historic event, all you need are people to interview — grandparents, relatives, or neighbors — and the time to ask questions and listen. Tape-record your conversations and write down what you hear. Here are some tips to help you get started:

Oral History How-to's

1. Find an area of the war's history that interests you: World War II in general, the war in Europe, life on the home front, etc. Remember, almost any story that brings history to life is good oral history.

2. Look for people who are willing to talk to you about their experiences in your field of interest. Relatives, friends, or a local librarian might be able to direct you to people who would be interested in talking to you. Very often veterans organizations and senior citizens centers enjoy having young people visit and talk with members or residents. Check with the organization's director.

3. Do some research. For example, if your interview subject fought in World War II, get some good books on the subject and take notes. If the book says, for example, that the trip to Europe on troop ships was rough, ask your subject if that was true for him.

4. Prepare your questions in advance. If the subject is battle experiences, ask if he or she was afraid; find out if in addition to scary moments, there were funny or sad ones. Be sure to ask about where they were when Pearl Harbor was bombed and when the war ended, how they felt about Germans and Japanese, etc.

5. During the interview, follow your list of questions. But also listen to the answers. Press your subject for colorful details. Don't be afraid to ask other questions.

6. It is best to have a tape recorder for your interview. But if you don't have one, take notes. Write up the answers as soon as possible after the interview so you don't forget them.

7. After you transcribe the tape or write up your notes from the interview, shape what you have into a first-person narrative, one that is written with "I" as the subject, like those in the previous article.

World War II: An Overview:

It was the bloodiest, deadliest war the world had ever seen. More than 38 million people died, many of them innocent civilians. It also was the most destructive war in history. Fighting raged in many parts of the world. More than 50 nations took part in the war, which changed the world forever.

For Americans, World War II had a clear-cut purpose. People knew why they were fighting: to defeat tyranny. Most of Europe had been conquered by Nazi Germany, which was under the iron grip of dictator Adolf Hitler. The war in Europe began with Germany's invasion of Poland in 1939. Wherever the Nazis went, they waged a campaign of terror, mainly against Jews, but also against other minorities.

In Asia and the Pacific, Japanese armies invaded country after country, island after island. On December 7, 1941, Japanese planes bombed Pearl Harbor, Hawaii. The next day, the U.S. Congress declared war, taking the U.S. into World War II.

What Caused World War II?

Most historians believe that the causes of World War II can be traced to World War I (1914-1918). Americans had fought in that earlier war to "make the world safe for democracy." Those were the words and goals of U.S. President Woodrow Wilson. But the peace treaties that ended World War I did not make the world safe for democracy. Instead, they caused bitterness and anger that led to World War II.

Germany and its allies had been the losers in World War I. Germany was stripped of one sixth of its territory and forced to pay huge reparations (payments by a defeated country for the destruction it caused in a war). After World War I, Germany suffered from high unemployment and runaway inflation. German money became almost worthless. Many Germans seethed in anger at the peace treaty.

A League of Nations was set up after World War I to keep the peace. But the U.S. did not join, and other countries were too busy with their own problems to worry about Germany and other trouble spots.

Then, in the early 1930s, the world was hit by an economic depression. Workers lost their jobs, trade fell off, and times were hard. People looked for leaders who could bring about change.

Rise of Dictatorships

Germany, Italy, and Japan all came under the rule of dictators or military leaders. A dictator named Mussolini took power in Italy in 1922. Military leaders took control of Japan in the early 1930s. In Germany, Adolf Hitler, leader of the Nazi Party, gained power in 1933. These leaders promised to restore their countries to greatness. But they set up totalitarian governments. (A totalitarian government is controlled by a single political party that allows no opposition and tightly controls people's lives.)

Hitler began to arm Germany for war. Japan invaded China. Mussolini sent Italian troops to conquer Ethiopia, in Africa. None of the world's democracies did anything to stop them.

A World at War

Hitler had a plan to conquer Europe. He began by taking Austria, then Czechoslovakia. Again, no one tried to stop him. As Winston Churchill, who became Britain's wartime leader, said, "Britain and France had to choose between war and dishonor. They chose dishonor. They will have war."

Churchill's words came true. In 1939, German troops invaded Poland. World War II in Europe had begun. The U.S. did not enter the war until December 1941, but once it did, it took a leadership role. U.S. troops fought in North Africa, Europe, and the Pacific. At home, Americans rolled up their sleeves to outproduce the Axis powers (Germany, Italy, and Japan) in the weapons of warplanes, battleships, and guns. Everyone did their part.

A Changed World

Germany surrendered on May 7, 1945, ending the war in Europe. The war in the Pacific did not end until after the U.S. dropped two atomic bombs on Japan — the only time such bombs were ever used in war. Japan surrendered on August 14, 1945.

President Franklin D. Roosevelt, who had led the U.S. in wartime, did not live to see peace. But in a speech written but never delivered, he spoke of the need to preserve peace: "Today we are faced with the preeminent [above all other] fact that, if civilization is to survive, we must cultivate the science of human relationships — the ability of all peoples, of all kinds, to live together and work together in the same world, at peace."

World War II Time Line:

September 1939: Germany invades Poland, starting World War II. Britain and France declare war on Germany.

April 1940: Germany invades Norway and Denmark.

May 1940: Germany invades Belgium and the Netherlands.

July 1940: Germany begins bombing Britain.

June 1941: Germany invades the Soviet Union.

December 1941: Japan bombs Pearl Harbor. The U.S. declares war on Japan.

February 1942: Japan captures Singapore.

May 1942: Japan captures the Philippines and Burma.

June 1942: The tide turns — the Allies defeat Japan in the Battle of Midway.

February 1943: German troops surrender in Stalingrad, USSR.

May 1943: Axis troops in northern Africa surrender.

September 1943: Italy surrenders.

November 1943: U.S. forces invade Tarawa.

June 1944: D-day: Allied troops land in France and begin invasion.

October 1944: Japan's navy is defeated near the Philippines.

December 1944: Germans fight back in Battle of the Bulge.

March 1945: Allied troops capture Iwo Jima.

May 1945: Germany surrenders, ending World War II in Europe.

August 1945: Atomic bombs dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

September 1945: Japan signs surrender agreement, ending war.

Anne Frank's Diary:


I know that I can write, a couple of my stories are good, my descriptions of the "Secret Annex" are humorous, there's a lot in my diary that speaks, but—whether I have real talent remains to be seen.

~First Entries~

But it's the same with all my friends, just fun and joking, nothing more. I can never bring myself to talk of anything outside the common round.... Hence, this diary.... I want this diary itself to be my friend.
[June 20, 1942]

Anne received her first diary on her 13th birthday, June 12, 1942.

On Friday, June 12th, I woke up at six o'clock, and no wonder; it was my birthday.... Soon after seven I went to Mummy and Daddy and then to the sitting room to undo my presents. The first to greet me was you, possibly the nicest of all.
[June 14, 1942]

I hope I shall be able to confide in you completely, as I have never been able to do in anyone before, and I hope that you will be a great support and comfort to me.
[June 12, 1942]

As we are Jewish we emigrated to Holland in 1933, where my father was appointed Managing Director of the Netherlands Opekta Co., which manufactures jam.
[June 20, 1942]

Anne kept a photo album. Most of the pictures in it were taken by Otto Frank, who often photographed his two daughters. The last photographs of Anne date from the early summer of 1942, shortly before she went into hiding.

My father, the dearest darling of a father I have ever seen, was thirty-six when he married my mother who was then twenty-five. My sister Margot, was born in 1926 in Frankfurt-am-Main in Germany. I followed on June 12, 1929.
[June 20, 1942]

The 7 or 12 beautiful features (not mine mind you!) should come here, then I can fill in which ones I have, and which ones I don't! 28 Sept. 1942 (drawn up by myself.)

blue eyes, black hair (no.)
dimples in cheeks (yes.)
dimple in chin (yes.)
widow's peak (no.)
white skin (yes.)
straight teeth (no.)
small mouth (no.)
curly eyelashes (no.)
straight nose (yes.) {at least so far}
nice clothes (sometimes.) {not nearly enough in my opinion}
nice fingernails (sometimes.)
intelligent (sometimes.)
[September 28, 1942]

I console myself with the thought that on the photograph above taken in 1939 Margot was not all that well-developed either. She was 13 at the time, the same age I am now or even a little older. So she's got no cause to look down on me.
[September 28, 1942]

I expect you will be rather surprised at the fact that I should talk about boy friends at my age. Alas, one simply can't seem to avoid it at our school. As soon as a boy asks if he may bicycle home with me and we get into conversation, nine out of ten times I can be sure that he will fall head over heels in love immediately and simply won't allow me out of his sight. After a while it cools down of course, especially as I take little notice of ardent looks and pedal blithely on.
[June 20, 1942]

Granny was supposed to be in the photograph. Margot pressed down the shutter and when it was developed we saw that Granny had disappeared.

~Going In To Hiding~

Anti-Jewish decrees followed each other in quick succession. Jews must wear a yellow star, Jews must hand in their bicycles, Jews are banned from trams and are forbidden to drive, Jews are only allowed to do their shopping between three and five o'clock.... Jews must be indoors by eight o'clock.... Jews are forbidden to visit theaters.... Jews may not visit Christians. Jews must go to Jewish schools, and many more restrictions of a similar kind. So we could not do this and were forbidden to do that. But life went on in spite of it all.
[June 20, 1942]

...a call-up; everyone knows what that means. I picture concentration camps and lonely cells.... Margot is sixteen; would they really take girls of that age away alone? But thank goodness she won't go, Mummy said so herself; that must be what Daddy meant when he talked about us going into hiding. Into hiding—where would we go, in a town or the country, in a house or a cottage, when, how, where....?
[July 8, 1942]

Margot and I began to pack some of our most vital belongings into a school satchel, the first thing in was this diary, then hair curlers, handkerchiefs, schoolbooks, a comb, old letters, I put in the craziest things with the idea that we were going into hiding, but I'm not sorry, memories mean more to me than dresses.
[July 8, 1942]

Bookcase covering the entrance to the hiding place that Anne shared with her family and four others for just over two years. The "Secret Annex" had been prepared by Otto Frank on two hidden floors in the rear of the building at 263 Prinsengracht, which housed the business he owned before the Germans forced him to relinquish it. Four of Otto Frank's employees secretly provided assistance to the inhabitants of the annex.

I expect you will be interested to hear what it feels like to hide; well, all I can say is that I don't know myself yet. I don't think I shall ever feel really at home in this house but that does not mean that I loathe it here, it is more like being on vacation in a very peculiar boardinghouse. Rather a mad way of looking at being in hiding perhaps but that is how it strikes me.
[July 11, 1942]

Our little room looked very bare at first with nothing on the walls; but thanks to Daddy who had brought my film-star collection and picture postcards on beforehand, and with the aid of paste pot and brush, I have transformed the walls into one gigantic picture. This makes it look much more cheerful....
[July 11, 1942]

I started with Margot's photograph and finish with my own. This is January 1942. This photograph is horrible, and I look absolutely nothing like it.
[June 19, 1942]

On 11 May 1939 I got this marvelous letter from Daddy, it will be a support to me all my life, unless like Margot I leave it lying about somewhere, just as Margot has done at home.
[September 28, 1942]

It's not really all that bad here, for we can cook for ourselves, and downstairs in Daddy's office we can listen to the radio.... Mr. Kleiman and Miep and also Bep Voskuyl have helped us so much.... We have things to read as well and we are going to buy all sorts of games.
Of course we are not allowed to look out of the window at all or to go outside. Also we have to do everything softly in case they hear us below.
[July 8, 1942]

Things are getting more serious, but there's still a smile left over from the funny bits.
Oh, what a joke.
Whatever next?
Nice one, as well.
That's a funny story.
Hello. "Yes, I'm fine!" (smiling politely.)
[July 8, 1942]

[illegible] That's how I look in a pram
Gorgeous as well, isn't it? Anne.
18 October 1942 Sunday

I must have been watching the clown here.
[October 18, 1942]

This is a photograph of me as I wish I looked all the time. Then I might still have a chance of getting to Holywood [Anne's spelling]. But at present, I'm afraid, I usually look quite different.
[October 10, 1942]

The fact that we can never go outside bothers me more than I can say, and then I'm really afraid that we'll be discovered and shot, not a very nice prospect, needless to say.
[July 11, 1942]

~Anne Frank As A Writer~

"Longing for Saturdays"
I can shake off everything if I write; my sorrows disappear, my courage is reborn!
[April 5, 1944]

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.
[April 5, 1944]

I have an odd way of sometimes, as it were, being able to see myself through someone else's eyes. Then I view the affairs of a certain "Anne" at my ease, and browse through the pages of her life as if she were a stranger.
[January 12, 1944]

So far I have put almost nothing in my diary other than thoughts and have never got round to nice stories I might read out loud one day. But from now on I shan't be so sentimental or a bit less and keep closer to reality.
[August 1, 1942]

I want to try and finish the story about Ellen, the fairy. I can give it to Daddy for fun on his birthday, together with all author's rights.
[May 6, 1944]

We always long for Saturdays when our books come. Just like little children receiving a present. Ordinary people simply don't know what books mean to us, shut up here. Reading, learning, and the radio are our amusements.
[July 11, 1943]

Although I'm only fourteen, I know quite well what I want, I know who is right and who is wrong, I have my own ideas and principles, and although it may sound pretty mad from an adolescent, I feel more of a person than a child, I feel quite independent of anyone.
[March 17, 1944]

"Eva's Dream"
In hiding, Anne wrote short stories, fairy tales, and essays. In her diary, she reflected on her "pen children," as she called her writings. On September 2, 1943, she began to meticulously copy them into a notebook and added a table of contents so that it would resemble a published book. She gave it the title Stories and Events from the Annex. Occasionally she read a story to the inhabitants of the annex, and she wrote about her intention to send one of her fairy tales to a Dutch magazine. Increasingly, she expressed her desire to be an author or journalist.

Anne considered "Eva's Dream" her best fairy tale.

Dear Kitty, An interruption in my sketches of life in the "Secret Annex." A few weeks ago I started to write a story, something that was completely made up and that gave me such pleasure that my pen-children are now piling up.
[August 7, 1943]

Eva's Dream

Eva found herself at the entrance to a large park. She was peering uncertainly through the gate, not quite daring to go inside.

Just as she was about to turn away, a tiny little woman with wings came up to her and said:

"Don't be afraid to go in, Eva. Or don't you know the way?"

"No, I don't," Eva shyly confessed.

"Well, then. Let me show you." And the plucky little elf took Eva's hand.... "Let's begin:

"First, there's the rose-the queen of the flowers; she is so beautiful and her fragrance is so intoxicating that it goes to everyone's head, most of all her own...."

...As she spoke, the elf knelt beside a bluebell, which was gently swaying back and forth in the grass to the rhythm of the wind.

"This bluebell is simple and kind. It brings joy to the world. It chimes for flowers, just as church bells chime for people. It helps lots of flowers and is a comfort to them. The bluebell is never lonely; there's music in its heart. It's a much happier creature than the rose. The bluebell isn't interested in the praise of others. The rose lives and thrives on admiration. When that's missing, the rose has nothing to make her happy. Her outward appearance is for other people, but her heart is empty and therefore cheerless."

[Excerpt from "Eva's Dream," Stories and Events from the Annex]

"Dear Kitty"
On March 28, 1944, a radio broadcast from the Dutch government-in-exile in London urged the Dutch people to keep diaries, letters, and other items that would document life under German occupation.

"History cannot be written on the basis of official decisions and documents alone. If our descendants are to understand fully what we as a nation have had to endure and overcome during these years, then what we really need are ordinary documents—a diary, letters from a worker in Germany, a collection of sermons given by a parson or priest. Not until we succeed in bringing together vast quantities of this simple, everyday material will the picture of our struggle for freedom be painted in its full depth and glory."

Prompted by this announcement, Anne began to edit her diary, hoping to publish it after the war under the title The Secret Annex. From May 20 until her arrest on August 4, 1944, she transferred nearly two-thirds of her diary from her original notebooks to loose pages, making various revisions in the process.

Anne rearranged or combined entries, shortened or expanded them, and invented pen names for the inhabitants of the Annex. Interestingly, in the edited version she addressed every entry to her invented friend "Kitty," thus turning her diary into an imagined dialogue. While many of her edited pages are similar to her original entries, at times Anne inserted new perspectives or added new passages.

It's an odd idea for someone like me to keep a diary; not only because I have never done so before, but because it seems to me that neither I-nor for that matter anyone else-will be interested in the unbosomings of a thirteen-year-old schoolgirl. Still, what does that matter? I want to write, but more than that, I want to bring out all kinds of things that lie buried deep in my heart.

There is a saying that "paper is more patient than man."
[June 20, 1942]

Dear Kitty,

Bolkestejn, a Cabinet Minister, was speaking in the Dutch News from London, and he said that they ought to make a collection of diaries and letters after the war. Of course they all made a rush at my diary immediately.

Just imagine how interesting it would be if I were to publish a romance of the "Secret Annex." The title alone would be enough to make people think it was a detective story. But, seriously, it would be quite funny 10 years after the war if we Jews were to tell how we lived and what we ate and talked about here. Although I tell you a lot, still, even so, you only know very little of our lives.
[March 29, 1944]

Anne first wrote the following passage on December 24, 1943. She probably edited it in the early summer of 1944. Her original version read:

Cycling again, dancing, flirting and what-have-you, how I would love that; if only I were free again! Sometimes I even think, will anybody understand me, will anybody overlook my ingratitude, overlook Jew or non-Jew, and just see the young girl in me who is badly in need of some rollicking fun?

The edited version reads:

Cycling, dancing, whistling, looking out at the world, feeling young, to know that I'm free—that's what I long for; still I mustn't show it, because I sometimes think if all 8 of us began to pity ourselves, or went about with discontented faces, where would it lead us?

~Final Entries~

On April 17, 1944, Anne began writing in what turned out to be her final diary notebook. On the first page she wrote about herself: "The owner's maxim: Zest is what man needs!" A few months later, she and the other inhabitants of the annex celebrated the Allied invasion of France, which took place on June 6, 1944. They were certain the war would soon be over.

On August 4, 1944, Anne, her family, and the others in hiding were arrested by German and Dutch police officials. Her last entry was written on August 1, 1944.

"For in its innermost depths, childhood is lonelier than old age." I read this saying in some book and I've always remembered it, and found it to be true. Is it true then that grownups have a more difficult time here than we do? No. I know it isn't. Older people have formed their opinions about everything and don't waver before they act. It's twice as hard for us young ones to hold our ground, and maintain our opinions, in a time when all ideals are being shattered and destroyed, when people are showing their worst side, and do not know whether to believe in truth and right and in God.

Anyone who claims that the older ones have a more difficult time here certainly doesn't realize to what extent our problems weigh down on us, problems for which we are probably much too young, but which thrust themselves upon us continually, until, after a long time, we think we've found a solution, but the solution doesn't seem able to resist the weapons which reduce it to nothing again. That's the difficulty in these times, ideals, dreams, and cherished hopes rise within us, only to meet the horrible truth and be shattered. 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.

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. In the meantime, I must uphold my ideals, for perhaps the time will come when I shall be able to carry them out.

yours, Anne M. Frank.

[July 15, 1944]

On August 8, 1944, Anne and her family were sent to the Westerbork transit camp in the northern part of the Netherlands. On September 3, 1944, they were deported on the last transport from Westerbork to the Auschwitz concentration camp in German-occupied Poland. Two months later, Anne and Margot were taken to the Bergen-Belsen concentration camp in Germany.

The world will still keep on turning without me; what is going to happen, will happen, and anyway it's no good trying to resist. I trust to luck, but should I be saved, and spared from destruction, then it would be terrible if my diaries and my tales were lost.
[February 3, 1944]


In hiding, Anne wrote short stories, fairy tales, and essays. On September 2, 1943, she began to meticulously copy them into a notebook and added a table of contents so that it would resemble a published book. She gave it the title Stories and Events from the Annex.

Anne's essay "Give!" may have been drafted earlier, but she transferred it to her Stories and Events from the Annex on March 26, 1944.


Do any of those people in their warm and cozy living rooms have any idea what kind of life a beggar leads?

Do any of those "good" and "kind" people ever wonder about the lives of so many of the children and adults around them? Granted, everyone has given a coin to a beggar at some time or another, though they usually just shove it into his hand and slam the door. And in most cases the generous donors think it's disgusting to touch that hand! Am I right or not? Then, afterwards, people are amazed that beggars are so shameless! Wouldn't you be shameless too if you were treated more like a dog than a human being?

It's terrible, really terrible, that people treat each other this way in a country like Holland, which claims to have such a good social system and so many decent, upstanding citizens. In the eyes of most of the well-to-do, a beggar is an inferior being, somebody who's scruffy and unwashed, pushy and rude. But have they ever asked themselves how beggars got to be that way?

You should try comparing one of those beggar children with your own children! What's the difference? Yours are pretty and neat, the others are ugly and ragged! Is that all? Yes, that's all, that's the only difference. If you dressed one of those urchins in nice clothes and taught him good manners, there wouldn't be a whit of difference!

Everyone is born equal; we all come into the world helpless and innocent. We all breathe the same air, and many of us believe in the same God. And yet...and yet, to many people this one small difference is a huge one! It's huge because many people have never realized what the difference is, for if they had they would have discovered long ago that there's actually no difference at all!

Everyone is born equal; we will all die and shed our earthly glory. Riches, power and fame last for only a few short years. Why do we cling so desperately to these fleeting things? Why can't people who have money more than enough for their own needs give the rest to their fellow human beings? Why should anyone have to have such a hard life for those few short years on earth?

But above all, a gift should never be flung in anyone's face— - every person has a right to kindness. Why should you be nicer to a rich lady than to a poor one? Has anyone ever studied the difference in their characters?

Human greatness does not lie in wealth or power, but in character and goodness. People are just people, and all people have faults and shortcomings, but all of us are born with a basic goodness. If we were to start by adding to that goodness instead of stifling it, by giving poor people the feeling that they too are human beings, we wouldn't necessarily have to give money or material things, since not everyone has them to give.

Everything starts in small ways, so in this case you can begin in small ways too. On streetcars, for example, don't just offer your seat to rich mothers, think of the poor ones too. And say "excuse me" when you step on a poor person's toe, just as you say it to a rich one.

It takes so little effort, yet it means so much. Why shouldn't you show a little kindness to those poor urchins who are already so deprived?

We all know that "example is better than precept." So set a good example, and it won't take long for others to follow. More and more people will become kind and generous, until finally no one will ever again look down on those without money. Oh, if only we were already that far! If only Holland, then Europe, and finally the whole world realized how unfair it was being, if only the time would come when people treated each other with genuine good will, in the realization that we're all equal and that worldly things are transitory!

How wonderful it is that no one has to wait, but can start right now to gradually change the world! How wonderful it is that everyone, great and small, can immediately help bring about justice by giving of themselves!

As with so many things, most people seek justice in very different quarters, and grumble because they themselves receive so little of it.

Open your eyes, be fair in your own dealings first! Give whatever there is to give! You can always—always—give something, even if it's a simple act of kindness! If everyone were to give in this way and didn't scrimp on kindly words, there would be much more love and justice in the world!

Give and you shall receive, much more that you ever thought possible. Give and give again. Keep hoping, keep trying, keep giving! People who give will never be poor!

If you follow this advice, within a few generations, people will never have to feel sorry for poor little beggar children again, because there won't be any!

The world has plenty of room, riches, money and beauty. God has created enough for each and every one of us. Let us begin by dividing it more fairly.

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