RIPPED PAGES of Anne Frank’s ‘Diary of a Young Girl’ are pictured at a library in Tokyo..
(photo credit: REUTERS)
My mother, Ruth Fass-Isay, was eight years older than Anne Frank. Her plight during the Holocaust was very similar to Anne’s, but she survived.
My mother fled Germany with her family to Amsterdam in 1934. My grandfather and Otto Frank were acquainted and had much in common. Coming from assimilated German Jewish families each had to build up a new business in Amsterdam after fleeing Germany.
They both did the utmost to save their families from the Nazis. Soon after the German invasion into Amsterdam the Isay family was sent to Westerbork to be transported to Auschwitz.
After being miraculously released from Westerbork and sent back to Amsterdam, my family was left with no other option but going into hiding or else risking deportation once again.
Together with her parents and younger brother my mother survived the Holocaust by hiding in Amsterdam at homes of Dutch families till the end of the war. They were not betrayed and the “onderduik parents,” the Geuken family, received a medal from Yad Vashem for saving Jews.
Nicholas D. Kristof claims in a recent op-ed in The New York Times
(“Anne Frank Today Is a Syrian Girl”) that Anne’s fate was sealed by a callous fear of refugees, among the world’s most desperate people. I don’t think that is true.
Anne’s fate was sealed first and foremost by the Nazis who wanted to annihilate the Jewish people who were innocent and law abiding citizens living peacefully and contributing in all aspects of life to the countries they lived in.
“No one takes their family into hiding in the heart of an occupied city unless they are out of options,” notes Mattie J. Bekink, a consultant at the Anne Frank House in Amsterdam. “No one takes their child on a flimsy boat to cross the Mediterranean unless they are desperate.”
That is absolutely correct. Both the Frank family and Isay family fled to Amsterdam and started a new life there in 1934 due to rise of the Nazis in Germany, and the persecution of Jews that followed the Nazis caught up with them a few years later. Syria is not occupied by a foreign power, there is a civil war raging there. The Syrian girl is in danger because of war in her own country.
Anne and my mother were in danger because they were Jews.
So why do I feel offended by Kristof’s claim that Anne Frank is a Syrian girl? Because the Syrian girl is a victim of the hatred within the Arab people fighting among themselves in total disregard for the wellbeing and sustainment of life of their women and children. Anne and my mother were victims of anti-Semitism.
The Syrian girl should be saved, by all means. In the first place by her Arab brothers in the Middle East. Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Kuwait and other Arab countries should give safe haven to these victims, hand-in-hand with the world.
If the State of Israel had existed in the at the time of the Second World War I have no doubt that both Anne and my mother would have found refuge there.
So please, Mr. Kristof, stop exploiting Anne and my mother. They had nowhere to go – the Syrian girl does.The author is a business entrepreneur who lives in Ra’anana and made aliya from Holland 40 years ago.