So there was this news, this week - a cold-case investigation team accused a Jewish lawyer of betraying the Franks and giving them up in hiding, in order to spare his only family the gas chamber.
To be honest, I wasn't sure what to make of this news, considering all of the evidence was circumstantial, and is mostly based on a short, handwritten note that can't be verified.
So there is the argument that this is BS, and this sort of circumstantial accusation without definitive proof only worsens the stereotype of Jews - and I get that.
Then there is also the argument that this lawyer was given no choice at all - watch his children die first, then himself, or give up the Franks in hiding - and that the same choice would be made by anyone, regardless of race or faith, to spare your family - and I get that, too.
As for me, I have a lifelong connection to this story, so I'll reserve judgement? :)
I read the book "The Diary of Anne Frank," I think, in the third grade - and nothing hit me more profoundly than that book, with the exception of sneaking and watching "Roots" on TV.
Once upon a time, back in high school, I was on the Speech and Drama Team. Though I wasn't very good, as could be testified by my drama teacher (if she was still living), I did a monologue from The Diary of Anne Frank my junior year for my class project - and she told me she rarely cried with scenes, and though I wasn't a very good actress, that one touched her - I was convincing, she could tell the character meant something to me.
As I said, the story of Anne Frank hit me profoundly, as a child - how anyone, in her situation, could still write "I still believe people are good at heart," after everything she experienced, was beyond me - in fact, I considered this a divine gift - one that I wanted to emulate.
In fact, how many Jewish people in general managed to not hate us after that is a gift from God, it's not human nature - it's a divine gift :)
Apparently, my drama teacher was so touched by my singular decent high-school monologue of Anne Frank that decided to put on the play the next year - only she gave the role to one of my closest friends, Heather M, and I was given the role of her older sister, Margot.
TBH, at age 17, yep, I was a bit pissed and jealous at first - but then I realized that wasn't in the spirit of Anne Frank - plus Heather M. was my closest friend, we were so much alike, like sisters, really - so it made sense that I was her big sister. And I think Ms. Knotts knew that and that I'd get over it quickly, as sisters typically do, and that I'd eventually cheer on and support her - and she was right, I did :)
Plus, Heather M was the better actress, truly, she was gifted - and when she uttered those famous words, the way she did - we all wept - because like me, she really understood Anne, too.
The final night of the final performance, as the Nazis come marching up the stairs, banging on the door, yelling "Schnell! Schnell! Achtung, Juden, Untermensch" - it felt real.
We sat there, quiet as church mice, just listening, nowhere to run or hide - and ad libbed what we would do if this was real - in fact, it actually felt real.
So you know what we did?
We held hands :)
Then Heather as Anne, and her real-life boyfriend, Darren (who truly is Jewish), as Anne's boyfriend, Peter, cuddled together.
And then for some reason, right as the Nazi soldiers burst through the door, I ran to into the arms of one of my 5 "brothers" in high school as my closest friends - the actor playing our father, Otto, Mike C (who is a famous stage actor in San Francisco now).
We just held each other like that, in an embrace, in the middle of the stage (which as I said, wasn't planned, and wasn't meant to be center stage, we just ran to each other and met there), as they burst through the door and pulled us all apart to arrest us.
We never did that any of the previous nights - just the last night of the play - and I'll never forget it.
We were dead quiet and the theater was dead quiet, except for the occasional sniffle.
The feeling that though this was the end, if we were going out, we wouldn't go out kicking and screaming in vain, out of fear and hatred - instead, we would go out embracing each other, in genuine love for each other :)
Now, I realize that in real life this may not have been the case, with abject terror - but as I said, this last performance was ad-libbed instinctual - and for some strange reason, every single one of us chose to embrace each other until they forcibly pulled us apart, without having preplanned it or anyone saying a single word.
I'll never forget that feeling, ever - it was actually quite remarkable - it was as if Anne's spirit, and God's divine gift of love, were right there with us :)
Unfortunately, my senior year, things took a turn in my family and I temporarily forgot the lessons of Anne Frank - I finally became angry with them, instead of trying to pray it away, blame just my dad for everything.
In fact, I became enraged and bitter, for a couple of years, alienating most of these people from me.
Not helping was that I watched a couple of my former friends, like Heather, make a run for popularity and behave in ways they ordinarily wouldn't.
But I don't hold any of that against them - we were young, we all tried on hats that don't really fit, just to fit in and be cool in high school - especially at my Cincinnati suburban high school full of rich kids.
Plus I know that's not who they really were underneath - just as I hope they know the way I behaved that last year of high school (and a year or so after) wasn't who I really was, and hope they don't those things against me, either :)
(For my part, I have apologized to most of them since. By about age 22, I began to let it all go - I eventually remembered the lessons of Anne Frank, as well as a previous lesson I learned through personal experience with Johnny Cash that the best way to get out of your own pain is to reach out and help somebody worse and went into Social Work.)
Regardless, despite mistakes and missteps since, I know that every member of that cast was chosen in their roles because of their sense of empathy, their depth of character, their big hearts - because they understood and believed - and still do to this day, despite momentarily lapses - that in spite of everything, people are really good at heart :)
Well, as for me, let me revise that - I still believe my castmates were and are still really good at heart - and though after that few bitter years, I returned to my Anne Frank philosophy, and perhaps remained overly idealistic for far too long later - I have since created a more balanced and realistic view on that?
I now believe in a more balanced, realistic way - that in spite of everything,, some people are really good at heart - and to give others the same benefit of the doubt I'd like for them to give me - and to keep giving the benefit of the doubt, for as long as you can, until they've repeatedly proven otherwise? :)
That doesn't mean you ever stop hoping and praying for them and for change, or that you begin to hate and fear them - it just means you know enough to keep yourself out of harm's way until lessons are learned ;)