Anne Frank and her family fled the Nazi persecution of Jews in Germany by immigrating to the Netherlands. After Germany conquered the Netherlands, they and a few other people lived in hidden rooms in in a house in Amsterdam. In 1944, Dutch Nazi police discovered the secret rooms and shipped the inhabitants off to concentration camps. Anne Frank died at the Bergen-Belsen camp in March of 1945. She was only 15 years old.
Since then, millions of people have read copies of the insightful diary that she left behind.
In this new short story by Harry Turtledove, a prolific writer of alternate history, Anne Frank survived the Holocaust. She eventually immigrated to America, married and raised a family. She's 84 years old and living in a nursing home when a middle school class listens to her speak about the experience of the Holocaust.
Here's a selection from "The Eighth-Grade History Visits the Hebrew Home for the Aged":
“I’m gonna put it up on my Facebook page and talk about all the things you told us,” Vicki said. “That was awesome!”
“Facebook . . .” Anne smiled in reminiscence. “We had nothing like that back then, of course. But I used to keep a diary when I was all cooped up. About a year before the end of the war, one of the Dutch Cabinet ministers in London said on the radio that they were going to collect papers like that so they could have a record of what things were like while we were occupied. I went back and polished mine up and wrote more about some things.”
“So you gave it to them?” Vicki’s eyes glowed. “You’re part of history now, and everything? How cool is that?”
A little sheepishly, Anne shook her head. “While the war was still going on, I intended to. But almost the first thing I did after we could come out was, I threw it in the trash.”
“Why?” the Asian girl exclaimed.
“Because I hated those times so much, all I wanted to do was forget them,” Anne Berkowitz replied. “I thought getting rid of the diary would help me do that—and some of the things in there were pretty personal. I didn’t want other people seeing them.”
“Too bad!” Vicki said, and then, after a short pause for thought, “Did throwing it out help you forget?”
“Maybe a little,” Anne said after thought of her own. “Not a lot. Less than I hoped. When you go through something like that, it sticks with you whether you want it to or not.”
(Image: Robert Hunt)
One time we toured the Museum of Tolerance and at the end, she slipped the guide a tip. He tried to give it back. I told him that he could either keep it or donate it, but returning a compliment from a Holocaust survivor is an insult that would reverberate for life.