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Restrictions on Jewish life in 1930s

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Abstract

            This discussion is about the restriction of the Jewish life in the 1930s and in particular, the life of a young Jewish woman named Anne Frank. She is a young writer who describes her experiences in a period of war. The paper further illustrates the impact of the Holocaust on the young woman’s life and the restrictions she coped with until her death in the German concentration camps. It is about the trail of events that followed the Jewish community after the National Socialist Party led by Adolf Hitler took power in 1933. It shows the justification of the war by the Germans and the numerous restrictions they put against the Jewish people. The paper describes the escape journey made by the Frank family and their experiences in their hideout. Through the eyes of the young girl, the paper gives an account of the war. It also gives an overview of Anne’s life, her sufferings, sickness, and eventual death.  In her diary, she describes the many changes that took place in Netherlands since the Germans occupied it. She writes about the many restrictions in place upon the Jewish people. It concludes with an account of the published book.

Introduction

            In Germany, there arose a looming xenophobia on the people of the Jewish race. The Germans claimed that the Jews were responsible for all the nations’ problems. This reasoning was fostered by groups such as the National Socialist Party (Nazis) led by Adolf Hitler. In 1933, the Nazis took control of power in Germany. They destroyed the nation’s democratic institutions and turned the whole country into a police state. In just six years in power, they had enacted four hundred anti-Jewish measures. Each measure was to protect the Germans Aryan blood from contamination with the Jewish blood. It was believed that the pure Germans were racially superior and that there was a competition for survival between them and the Jews. They systematically stripped of the Jews of their human rights. The Nazis soon extended their rule to the Netherlands. The Jewish community living in Germany had all along considered themselves at home. They were hard working people who had contributed significantly to the economy and culture of the Germans. A great number of them had fought for Germany in the World War I.

            Anne Frank was born in the city of Frankfurt, Germany in 1929. She is the best known victim of the Holocaust. She was the second born daughter of Otto Frank and Edith frank. Her older sister was called Margot Frank. The Franks were moderate Jews who did not observe strict Judaism traditions. Otto Frank valued scholarly pursuits and encouraged his children to read. Anne was enrolled in school and displayed great aptitude in writing and reading.  Her personality was that of an extrovert, outspoken and she was very energetic. She received a diary from her Father on her 13th birthday, which she used to record the accounts of her life from 12th June 1942 to 1st August 1944. In her diary, she details the usual adolescent fears of growing up, falling in love and the misunderstanding between her and her parents. She also tells of her fears, experiences and hope about an end to the war. The Frank family is among the thousands of Jews who fled Germany to the Netherlands escaping the anti-Jew movements. Soon after, fleeing, the Germans invaded Netherlands in 1940.

            In July of 1942, Margot Frank received a notice to report to a work camp. Otto Frank had organized for his family to go into hiding in rooms behind his work place at the Opekta’s premises in Amsterdam. The family moved into hiding in a secret annex leaving their home in a state of disarray to imply that they had left suddenly. They walked for long distances, as Jews were not allowed to use public transport. In hiding, he was joined by Mr. van Daan, a co-worker and his wife and their 16-year-old son Peter. Dussel, a dentist also joined them later. They family spent two years in hiding from the Nazis. They were protected by non-Jewish friends in Amsterdam. During her life, Anne felt deeply the discrimination she experienced for being a Jew, and questioned a lot about life. It was in this hideout that Anne wrote most of her works. On August 1944, the police raided the annex.

The life, experiences, and fate of Anne Frank caught the world’s attention through her written work. It is the cheerful nature of her writings amidst the dangerous circumstances, as well as her talent and sensitivity to describe difficult circumstances and the tragedy of her sufferings and short life that made her diary a great success. More than six million people went through the horrors of the holocaust. Many of them died and others were left with physical and emotional wounds. This was because of the spreading xenophobia against the Jewish people, which led to the establishment of discriminative rules and tactics.

Rule of the Nazi

When the Nazis took power, all the Jewish teachers were sacked. Hitler used horror and fear to accomplish his killings. The Jews, the Gypsies and the mentally ill were among the ‘racially impure sub-humans’ that were not wanted in Germany. The Nuremburg laws prevented Jews from being Germans. He destroyed democratic institutions by banning trade unions, communists, and also having religious leaders killed or jailed. In this, he had more control of Germany as no organized group would oppose his agenda. The ones who dared oppose him would either be killed or jailed.

The overwhelming and organized militia of the government overpowered the few options the Jews had to fight back. There was over one hundred armed Jewish uprising. They fought with any weapon they could get. They risked their lives going to find food and water under the threat of death. Many of them were exiled from their country.

Justification of the war

            The trust in Adolf Hitler tended to give people (the Germans) a sense of security regarding their economy and race. He also believed that the Jews had contributed less to the world civilization. He accused them as the cause of the loss in the World War I. He accused Jews of everything he did not like. According to Hitler Jews were immoral, brought pornography, prostitution and modern art. The Germans claimed that the Jews were ambitious people who were not only everywhere in the land but who also controlled everything. The claim was that they acted secretly so that it was difficult to detect their influence. Their aim was to achieve virulent hatred directed at the Jews, which would portray them as inferior people. The Germans had purposed to drive out all the Jews from out of Germany who had allegedly brought all the problems in Germany. In this period, Germany was facing harsh economic and social times. The government was also under pressure because it had debts to pay. They had been ordered to pay in compensation their allies after World War I and were also forced to give up land. Adolf capitalized on these problems to mobilize the Germans against the Jews. By 1939, a good number of the Jews had already left. Once the war begun, it was no longer easy to escape and it was then that the Germans turned to destroy them. The Germans extended their policy to up to the Netherlands capturing the Jewish people. The Nazi regime created a political ideology that redefined the worldview of Germans and their ethics and beliefs. The German Jews had long considered themselves proud citizens of a nation thought to be an epitome of western culture and society. These myths regarding the Jewish people led to their discrimination, humiliation, and murder.

Hitler was aware of the value of the propaganda. In 1933, He appointed Joseph Goebbels as the head of the propaganda and gave him an official title as the minister of propaganda and national enlightenment. He exaggerated the might of his military and spread negative rumors regarding the Jews. Goebbels set up the Reich chamber of Commerce in an attempt of ensuring that everybody thought in the “correct manner.” The Germans could now read and see anything that was hostile to the Nazi part. The chambers controlled the art, literature, music, radio, film, newspapers. To produce anything, one had to be a member of the Reich Chamber. What was seen in theatres and cinemas was controlled. In the movie, “the eternal Jews” the Jews were vilified and compared to a hoard of rats out to spread disease.

The restrictions

            The Holocaust was ordered by Adolf Hitler at the time of World War II when Nazi troops from German occupied the Netherlands. It was the reclassification of Jews under the infamous Nuremburg Laws In 1935 that created an identity crisis and forced many of them to redefine themselves in accordance to the Nazi racial laws. The Jews had served in the German military forces. Many of them did not perceive themselves as Jewish as they no longer practiced strict Judaism. Others considered their religion a matter of personal spirituality rather than race. More than 1.5 million Jews were forced out of their homes, shot, and buried in mass graves. It was in this period that Anne Frank was writing her diary amidst all the war and rumors of war.

She attended the Montessori schools when the Nazi occupied Holland in 1940. They instituted anti-Jewish regulations that allowed Jewish people to study only in Jewish schools. She changed schools as a result. In addition to this discrimination, the Jews were required to wear the yellow Star of David. The Jews were also deported in large numbers from Holland to the Auschwitz concentration camp. She conveys to the reader her fears and hopes about an end to the war.

            The Jews were forced to hand over their bicycles and a curfew requiring them to be indoors from eight o’clock in the evening up until six o’clock in the morning. They were forbidden from visiting theaters, cinemas, swimming pools and other public places of entertainment. She says, “our freedom was severely restricted by a sequence of anti-Jewish decrees.” The Jews were forbidden from using street cars, ride in cars, and would only do their daily shopping between 3p.m and 5p.m. furthermore; they would only go to Jewish owned salons and barbershops. They were also forbidden from visiting other Christian homes and would only attend Jewish schools. Anne was approaching adolescence and such restrictions surely affected her social life. In her quotes, she questions why the Jews are treated inferior from the other races. In her diary, she records her friend’s statement that “you are scared to do something because it may be forbidden.”

            Lack of money and permits held a million other Jews behind. In a well attended conference in France, a crisis meeting was held to discuss the great influx of Jewish refugees into neighboring countries. Countries were now refusing to accommodate them. The meeting aimed at resolving the crisis by enacting measures that would see to it that only the Jews who give proof that they had jobs and money would be allowed to move out of Germany. This was an awkward decree as most of them had left in a hurry.

When the Nazis took power, all the Jewish teachers were sacked. Hitler used horror and fear to accomplish his killings. The Jews, the Gypsies and the mentally ill were among the ‘racially impure sub-humans’ that were not wanted in Germany. The Nuremburg laws prevented Jews from being Germans.

In October 5th 1940, the government forced the non-Jewish government employees to sign a declaration of Aryan purity. Doctors and other medical personnel were also made to sign the declaration on Aryan purity. In addition, on, November 21st 1940 all Jews were dismissed from government position. A round up of all Jews was made and all those of mixed marriages summoned to labor camps. The land was covered with signs reading, “Forbidden for Jews” and intercourse non-Jews was forbidden. Attending public schools, high schools were forbidden for Jewish children. The Jews were put in concentration camps and also used in medical experiments.

It was prohibited to own a state bank account and all the money stored therein was confiscated by the government.

Effect on the Children

The holocaust experiences forced people to make very tough decisions in order to save themselves or their children. Survival at that time took all the ingenuity, energy, and resources at ones disposal. Victims often faced the question of taking their own lives or watching your loved ones suffer and die helplessly. The children were affected in many ways. Aside from relocating schools, their fate lied with that of their parents. Many children were orphaned in this period. They were made to believe that they were racially inferior and faced mockery among their peers. Their dreams became shrinking horizons with the fear and pauperism inflicted on them. They could not belong to the same clubs or be in social gatherings with the Aryan children.

These children had faced the murder of their parents, friends, siblings, and relatives. When they were sent in concentration camps, they faced malnutrition, diseases because they lived in deplorable conditions that resulted in the death of many. Sterilization of children was also done. Children would be encouraged to report their parents the Gestapo if they grumbled about Hitler. Anne frank was one of the children who went through the holocaust experience and lost her life as a result of the war. She fled with her parents to the Netherlands only to be caught up there.

The experiences and life of Anne Frank 

Life in the Annex

            The accounts and experiences of Anne Frank’s life and the experiences she went through as a young woman living in the 1930s.The Frank family is among the thousands of Jews who fled Germany to the Netherlands escaping the anti-Jew movements. His father had anticipated the heating up of the war. When the right time came, he moved his family to a secret Annex in his former office. Anne Frank went into hiding with her parents. The shared room was too small and congested. For two years, they were safe only to be ambushed and arrested by the police. They had to keep all the windows blacked out and their only sunshine was skylight in the balcony. She expresses in her writings that it is oppressive to stay indoors all the time and at the same time afraid of being discovered and shot. She however found solace in the company of Peter van Pel who was also in hiding with them. It was also very frustrating to stay locked up when one had a good childhood and many friends. Anne specifically wished her life back as she was feeling lonely. As a young and ambitious woman, she felt that a lot of her precious time is going to waste. She tried to remain positive but often confessed that she was very fearful. People would often get even with each other

Anne in Detention

            In the morning of 4th August 1944, following a tip off, the police raided the Achterhuis, where the Franks and other people were hiding. They were held overnight and on the following day, they were moved to the Huis van Bewaring an overcrowded house of detention. They were considered criminals having been arrested in hiding hence they were placed in barracks for hard labor. The men were separated from women and children. Miep Gies and Bep Voskuiji were among the people who knew the franks and had been in hiding with them. They were not detained with the rest of the group. They returned to Achterhuis where they had been with the other group. There they found Anne’s papers scattered on the floor. They picked them as well as several family photos and Geis resolved to give them to Anne after the war. The franks were sent to a temporary camp awaiting shipment to the death camps in Germany.

Anne frank was one of the youngest persons in the concentration camp at that time. She was not selected for immediate death. She was forced to strip naked, disinfected and had an identification number tattooed on her arm. She was used as a slave performing difficult tasks of hauling rocks and digging rolls of sod. At night, they were all crammed in overcrowded barracks. In the camps, they would do terrible jobs such as smashing batteries whereby the acid would burn their fingers. This was too much for her and as a result, she became reserved and tearful. However at times her confident nature and her young age allowed her get extra bread rations. The conditions at the concentration camps were atrocious, food was scarce and diseases were wide spread Diseases were so rampant in the camp and before long they were infected with scabies.

Discussion

            Anne’s story relates to that of many children who experience wars as they grow up. She is filled with dreams and sees the war as a stumbling block towards achieving them. She believes that peace will come but she is not sure if she will be alive when it does. As one reads through her writing you wish you could rescue her and give her back the life she so desires. She is a sweet young kid who does not understand how a German is racially superior to a Jew. She had a very positive attitude in life. In one of her diary she confesses her true experiences. She says she has often been downcast but never in despair. She sees the hiding as a dangerous place but also adventurous, romantic and interesting.  She does not know why she is still hopeful. In her quotes she says,” it is really a wonder that I have not dropped my ideals as they seem absurd and impossible to carry out”. This show that even as a young girl she was feeling the pressure of the war and the effect it will have on her dreams in life.  At one point she said that she does not feel the need for building up hope on a foundation comprised of confusion, misery, and death. She saw the world turning into a wilderness full of thunder, which would destroy her just as it has destroyed millions others. However, she continues to show her deep faith in God that despite what is happening, it will too come to pass. In her words she says, “This cruelty too will end, peace and tranquility will return again.” She wrote of something good in everyone inspite of peoples actions.

Anne Frank questions the generalization and condemnation inflicted on the Jewish people. She describes the experience as very sad. She questions the grounds with which a Jew is less worth than another person of a different race or religion. In her quotes she says, “What one Christian does becomes his own responsibility but what a Jew does is throw back at all Jews.” She would edit her writings, removing some parts and write others with the dream of publishing them one day. Her original diary was supplemented by additional loose leaf papers and notebooks. Her writings display great intelligence and creativity. It further displays talent of observation, description, and originality. She wrote about her goals, feelings, beliefs, and experiences about the war. With her writing talent, she aspired to become a journalist. She knew what she wanted in life at a very tender age.

Conclusion

            As fate would have it, Anne never made it after the war. She however left a legacy that has inspired many people. Nelson Mandela, the first president of South Africa got a lot of insight and encouragement through reading Anne’s work. He was reading it at a time when his country was undergoing racial segregation.

When the Frank daughters got to weak, they were moved in a sickbay. It was poorly lit and infested with rats and mice. Edith Frank would save her food for her daughters and give them through an opening she had made at the base of the sickbay. On 28th of October more than 8,000 women were relocated to Bergen-Belsen camp.  Anne and Margot were transported but their mother was left behind. She later died of starvation. Anne had lost the morale to live. She believed that all her parents had died. The two daughters were too weak. Margot fell from her weakened state and died. Anne died a few days later. She succumbed to typhus.

Otto Frank survived the war. He returned to Amsterdam where he found Jan and Miep Gies. He stayed with them as he attempted to relocate his family. He later discovered his family’s fate. In July 1945, Miep Geis gave Frank his daughter’s diary along with the papers and photos he had collected. Anne had kept an accurate record of their hiding. The diary was a private expression of her wishes and thoughts. In her records, she had heard a Radio broadcast by Bolkestein Gerrit, he was a Dutch exile who intended to publish a record of the Dutch people’s oppression in Germany. Otto Frank decided to submit her daughters work for publishing after the war. Through her father’s efforts, her diary was published in 1947 in Netherlands under the title Het Achterhuis (the Annex). It has been translated to more than 50 languages and is a best seller and has won many awards. It is today commonly known as the Diary of Anne Frank.

Through her father’s efforts the diary was published. It caught the attention of many world leaders. It has also been filmed and charitable foundations created as a result of Anne’s writings and experiences at the concentration camps. It is one of the most read historical books. She gives a candid experience of the war from a child’s honest perspective.

The Holocaust has been condemned worldwide. Under no version or circumstances are these atrocious actions justified. The human rights were abused massively in this period.  However, it is not unusual for people to act in uncivilized manner especially when they feel that an outsider is taking over. It is necessary that people practice self restraint and act ethically and morally.

On a personal opinion, I do not see why people would hurt other people for a baseless reason such as race and have a tarnished name thereafter.

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