About Me

My photo
Delta, British Columbia, Canada
I took very early retirement from teaching in '06 and did some traveling in Europe and the UK before settling down to do some private tutoring. As a voracious reader, I have many books waiting in line for me to read. Tell me I shouldn't read something, and I will. I'm a happy, optimistic person and I love to travel and through that believe that life can be a continuous learning experience. I'm looking forward to traveling more some day. I enjoy walking, cycling, water aerobics & and sports like tennis, volleyball, and fastpitch/baseball. I'm just getting into photography as a hobby and I'm enjoying learning all the bits and bobs of my digital camera. My family is everything to me and I'm delighted to be the mother of two girls and the Gramma of a boy and a girl. I may be a Gramma, but I'm at heart just a girl who wants to have fun.

Saturday, October 16, 2010


Haunted: (1) to inhabit, visit, or appear to in the form of a ghost or other supernatural being or (2) to come to the mind of continually or obsess over

What with Halloween just around the corner, you might think I'm losing my mind, thinking that my house has recently been inhabited by ghosts and goblins. Well, that is not the case.
I have just finished reading the sensational book by Anne Frank: The Diary of a Young Girl, and I'm haunted by her depth of vision and wisdom at such a young age.
In 1942 and only 13 years old, Anne and her family along with 4 other Jews, went into hiding in Amsterdam. Over the course of the next two years, Anne wrote a diary of her experiences in the "Secret Annexe," the top floors of an old office building. They all were cut off from the outside world and faced hunger, boredom, the constant cruelties of living in confined quarters with no privacy and the ever-present danger of discovery and death at the hands of the Nazis.
In her introduction to the book, Eleanor Roosevelt writes that she was made "shockingly aware of war's greatest evil - the degradation of the human spirit."
What astonished me was that Anne's accounting of day to day life in hiding shows how rapidly she matured in only two years at a time of life that is so difficult for every young girl. She shows great warmth and wit with a high degree of intelligence and great sensitivity to others in her diary. The most profound part for me was when she wrote on Thursday, July 6, 1944 (less than a month before German soldiers broke down the doors of the Secret Annexe and dragged these eight innocent people to Gestapo headquarters in Amsterdam) the following:
People who have a religion should be glad, for not everyone has the gift of believing in heavenly things. You don't necessarily even have to be afraid of punishment after death; purgatory, hell, and heaven are things that a lot of people can't accept, but still a religion, it doesn't matter which, keeps a person on the right path. It isn't the fear of God but the upholding of one's own honor and conscience. How noble and good everyone could be if, every evening before they fall asleep, they were able to recall to their minds the events of the whole day and consider exactly what had been good and bad. Then, without realizing it, you try to improve yourself at the start of each new day...Whoever doesn't know it must learn and find by experience that: "A quiet conscience makes one strong!"
Anne died in the Belsen camp in 1945 and her old school friend recounts their reunion there. "...I saw her beyond the barbed wire. She was in rags. I saw her emaciated, sunken face in the darkness. Her eyes were very large. We cried and cried, for now there was only the barbed wire between us..." Another survivor recalled that "Anne, who was already sick at the time, was not informed of her sister's death, but after a few days she sensed it, and soon afterwards she died, peacefully, feeling that nothing bad was happening to her."
She never saw her 16th birthday.
I wonder what Anne would have accomplished in her life had she lived. She wrote many times that she wanted to become a writer and to go on living even after her death. And her dream came true, albeit in a horrifying way.
Author Ernst Schnabel wrote, "out of the millions that were silenced, this voice no louder than a child's whisper...It has outlasted the shouts of the murderers and has soared above the voices of time."

I am haunted.


Beverley Baird said...

I can still remember reading her diary when I was in high school and being so moved by it. I am still haunted as well. So much was crammed into such a short life.
I recently bought the newer version with additions and a new translation. I must reread it. I also boughrt Anne Frank: Beyond the Diary - A Photographic Remembrance. That was very good.
I always seek out stories of heroism, especially from the war. Have you read "Hanna's Suitcase"?

Kay L. Davies said...

I was young when I read that book, because I remember Anne was older than I was when she wrote her diary, but I was touched beyond belief by her words, her life, and her death.
Everyone should read this book. Those of us who read it before ought to read it again as mature adults. Her words about religion, about looking back at day's end, are as profound now as they were then.
Thanks, Leslie. A haunting of an exceptional kind.
-- Kay

Leslie: said...

Hi Bev, I read the version that was published in 1947 but there are different versions, especially for children. I'd love to read "Beyond the Diary," and yes, I have read "Hanna's Suitcase"

Hi Kay, I agree that even if you read it as a child, you should read it again from an adult's perspective.

Mimi said...

i remember reading it in school, and yes, her maturity was amazing.
Have you read "The boy in the striped pajamas", you probably have. That book, too, had a profound effect on me. Also, "The Twins", by Tessa de Loo- oh, it was an amazing book!

RiverPoet said...

I remember reading this as a young girl myself and feeling terribly frightened at everything Anne went through. I was moved by knowing that even as she wrote each word, her time was counting down.

When I went on our field trip to the Holocaust Museum with my thanatology class, I was profoundly affected. If you are ever in the area, I'll take you there. You cannot deal with the entire museum in a day. The feelings simply become overwhelming at a certain point. I found myself escaping into the air outside and crying. The final straw for me was seeing all the shoes. Hundreds and hundreds of shoes and suitcases confiscated from the arriving prisoners, everything from boots to slippers to high heels. Walking through one of the train boxcars wasn't easy either. You could almost smell the acrid scent of fear in the old wood.

I think it's right that our generation and all generations be haunted by what happened. We should never forget, lest we let it repeat.

Peace - D

Connie said...

Just listened to the audio version of "The Zookeeper's Wife" another account of amazing courage during such a horrifying chapter in history.

Welshcakes Limoncello said...

Yes, I can understand that you would feel haunted after reading it. I have always wanted to visit the house where they hid in Amsterdam.

Leslie: said...

Hi Connie, I'm trying to get a copy of the Zookeeper's Wife - it sounds extraordinary, just my interests! Thanks for the recommendation.

Shrinky said...

I read her diary/book many years ago, and my son read it for the first time only last year. I believe her father survived the war, and was instrumental in having her writing published. I doubt anyone can read what she endured, and with such dignity, without coming away with their heart entirely broken.

Anonymous said...

Sorry for my bad english. Thank you so much for your good post. Your post helped me in my college assignment, If you can provide me more details please email me.