I have never read Anne Frank’s Diary and only recently saw the 1959 version of the movie. Yet, I have always been drawn to her story. It is remarkable that anyone survived as long as the Frank’s and their co-inhabitants did in an attic unable to make noise or move for most of the workday. I am also intrigued to see a teenager’s view of what war and living in a world filled with hate was like. I am saving reading her diary for the day I finally get to go to Amsterdam. Once there it has always been my intention to visit the house that was her shelter that now exists as a museum.
Tuesday night I got the opportunity of a lifetime that will definitely hold me over until my unscheduled trip to Amsterdam. One of my favorite NYC spots, 92Y, hosted an incredible event entitled ““The Extraordinary Story of Anne Frank's Family”. As soon as I saw that title in their brochure I was hooked.
It was described as the following:
“Anne Frank’s first cousin Buddy Elias (the only living relative who knew her when she was alive) and his wife Gerti have reconstructed Anne Frank’s family life before, during and after the war based on a cache of 6,000 never-before-seen family documents. Delve into photos, correspondence and other family keepsakes that offer a new window into the family’s life before the Holocaust, their desperate attempts to reconnect during and after the war, their joyful reunion with Otto Frank and the ensuing, tragic discovery that his wife and two daughters, Anne and Margot, had died in concentration camps.”
After reading something so powerful I HAD to purchase ticket. However, there was a snag. For the first time I had waited too long and the event was completely sold out. But there was a light at the end of the tunnel. The good people at the 92Y responded to my panicked emails and tweets and let me know as soon as extra tickets became available. The dedicated customer service puts them over the top. I already have tickets to two more of their events, and now doing a dance that they can find me some for Justice Sandra Day O’Connor’s talk in March. I have complete faith. That and a positive blog can’t hurt my chances, right? But, one event at a time.
Oprah says that the word “amazing” is over used. I agree. But that really is the only appropriate word for this experience. This was an evening I will never forget. It gave me chills and while I was listening to their story, I was transported to another world. I left my world, my problems, my thoughts, and all I could concentrate on was the events being described. It was so powerful and interesting all at the same time. I have never simultaneously been apart of living history and the past.
Buddy and Gerti began on an unexpected adventure two years ago. They had found gold, so to speak, in their attic. While cleaning through papers they found the papers, photographs, and documents from Buddy’s ancestors. This included correspondence from Otto Franks’s family to Buddy’s prior to and after the war. These letters tell the story of the Holocaust as it happened to one family. How they survived and the now famous legacy of their family. It is just incredible. It is like a miracle that these documents survived and were discovered in the attic. The story of what they found and how they found it, is the subject of a new must read book “Treasures from the Attic: The Extraordinary Story of Anne Frank's Family.” Second to only Anne’s diary itself, will you get such an intimate and revealing look of these struggles and strive to preserve a legacy.
During this event Buddy and Gerti read from this book, shared photographs, and stories of what they knew and learned from this process. The intensity in this room was unexplainable. I felt so lucky that I was among the group that got to hear this story first hand. It was such a special evening and one that only few can say they have participated in.
After the talk, Buddy and Gerti signed the book and posed for photographs. They were warm and open. I wish I could keep in touch and have them over for dinner. Buddy shows no signs of the traumas he has survived but is bubbly in all of the languages his speaks. The smile on his face will always remind me that their can be happiness after tragedy.
I will be reading this new book now but still plan on reading Anne Frank’s diary on my plane ride to Amsterdam. Although now I will have the weight of the entire story with me.
To purchase this book and read more about it:
If you are luckily enough to be planning a trip to Amsterdam, this is a must-do activity: