Friday, July 8, 2016

Reminders from History - A Poem for Older Children

Postcard - Anne Frank House, Facade Secret Annex
Photo by Allard Bovenberg

Students - I am this week volunteering at an English immersion adult week in La Alberca, Spain with Diverbo.  There are fourteen English speaking adults here (from Canada, England, Australia, and the United States) and there are nine Spaniards.  The job of the English speakers is to only speak English, as the Spanish people are here to strengthen their English.

On the way to Spain, my daughters (part of the Diverbo teen program) and I spent a day in Amsterdam, the Netherlands, and we visited the Anne Frank House and Museum.  Walking through the rooms where young Anne wrote about her life during the horrors of Nazi rule made me think about the power humans have - for evil and for good.

Anne's father, Otto Frank, really did mark lines on the wall in the Secret Annex, to show his daughters' growth.  And Anne pasted pictures of royalty and movie stars upon her wall, to make it feel like home, even though it was not home, but a secret annex where Anne's family, another family, and one more man stayed in hopes of staying safe.  They were all killed for being Jewish, all except for Anne's father Otto, who survived Auschwitz and had Anne's diary published after the war.

I am grateful to Anne for writing, as her story is the story of many.  Because she wrote it down, we have a small window into one child's life - one normal child's life in the most dire of circumstances.  Many children today live in terrible circumstances, and Anne's diary and legacy reminds me of this.  Too, her words remind me of my responsibility.  How am I helping, as Anne's family's friends tried to help her?

To learn a bit more about what a helping person does, I am reading ANNE FRANK REMEMBERED (there is also a documentary by the same name) by Miep Gies and Alison Leslie Gold.  Miep Gies was one of the employees of Otto Frank, Anne's father.  Miep, her husband, and others brought food to Anne and her family and tried to keep them safe; this was at risk to their own safety, but they did what was right.  After Otto Frank returned, Miep gave him Anne's diary and other writings.  She had kept them, hoping to one day return them to Anne.

A Book by a Helper
Photo by Amy LV

There are many ways to learn about the world.  We widen our horizons and deepen our understandings by reading, talking with others, traveling, and allowing ourselves to think and write about what we notice and observe and believe.

This week's Poetry Friday roundup is over at The Logonauts with Katie.  Here you will discover many poetry happenings around the blogosphere this week.

Please share a comment below if you wish.


  1. My son & family are headed to Amsterdam & near places in a couple of weeks, Amy. They are hoping to see this special place. In addition to Anne's diary, one of my favorite books about that time is Miep Gies story, Anne Frank Remembered. I am in awe of how brave they were to continue to help. What a lovely experience you are having. Thanks for the poem, especially today. It's been a tough week. We must be kinder!

  2. Amy, what a life changing experience visiting Anne Frank's house must have been. You are having an amazing summer! Thanks for sharing this lovely poem. My summer program students are learning to keep writer's notebooks, and I'm going to share this post along with some posts from your Sharing Our Notebooks blog.

  3. Many years ago I did a year abroad in Heidelberg, Germany to study the German language. I took a week to visit Amsterdam and visited the Anne Frank house. It made the story of Anne Frank so much more real to me.

  4. So interesting how much power a place has. It is one thing to read it and another to be there.

    Every year I have students who become fascinated with Anne and her story. Thanks for this addition!

  5. Amy,

    Thank you for sharing how tender and touching it was to walk through Anne Frank's home. It's the things that are just like ours....the emotions that are just like ours...the sameness that stops me. As, it should. We need to find more sameness between people these days. Thank you for your words. Enjoy every moment in Europe. We want pics and a full report upon your return....and poetry, of course!

  6. ooops! I hit "comment" before "I am not a robot". Apologies if my comment shows up twice. I"m attempting to retype my thanks for your poem. What stops me is the sameness between Anne Frank's house and the sameness between what her father felt for his children shown in the marks on the wall...and what you know from being a daughter. We need more of this understanding today. Poetry can deliver as this poem does. Thank you. Enjoy every moment in Europe. We want pics and a full report when you get home....and, more poetry, of course.

  7. The importance of history, of remembering, of kindness and helping: YES.

  8. Thank you for this profound reminder...I must be kinder. =)

  9. This is a different kind of poem for you, Amy, I think (but who knows what others in this vein I might have missed). It's really powerful. I feel there's a book building...but when is there not?!