What I Learned From Otto Frank

In 1991, I visited Germany and Holland landing in Frankfurt to start. Germany was very clean and affordable, but I always felt a little uneasy. The newspapers had numerous stories about the anti-foreign skinhead demonstrations. Every time I met someone who was older than sixty, I could not shake the image of them dressed up in jack boots and saluting der Führer as young soldiers. I was happy to leave Germany and go on to Luxembourg.

Eventually I made it to the Netherlands. It was dark, dank and dirty, but more relaxed and welcoming too. Many people spoke English and it was easier to get around. I noticed Anne Frank’s house was in Amsterdam on a city map. The house was only a short walk.

I had never read the girl/woman’s entire diary. I knew the ultimate tragic end by reading a few selected chapters. That had been enough for me, but I decided to go see it. The secret house is called the Annex and overlooks a canal. Inside the maze, the house is a time capsule.

The story of the German descent into barbarism is told in the Annex’s archival photographs. Many Dutch believed the Germans would not be has harsh as they had been in their own country. At first this was true, but as the pressures of the war became greater they turned into monsters. It is all there in the photographs.

The tragedy of it all is made even greater by how late in the war Anne Frank’s hiding place was discovered by the Nazis. France had already been liberated, but the Allied offensive bogged down. The Germans raped in retreat the countries of Belgium and Holland before the Allies could liberate them.

It was during this time in 1945 that the Franks were discovered. The family was split and sent to various concentration camps. No exact record of how Anne Frank died, at the tender age of sixteen, exists. Otto Frank’s ingenuity succeeded in saving only his own life. Not one other member of his family survived the Holocaust.

The tour left me in tears. The story of Otto Frank’s desperate plans to save his family are heartbreaking. Anne’s father, Otto, had had the foresight to leave Germany in the 1930’s and set-up his store in Amsterdam. Nonetheless, the story ended tragically.

Otto Frank even foresaw the coming German aggression and attempted to take his family to America. The rejection letter from the US State Department is displayed in the Annex. With nowhere to run, he built the Annex as a sanctuary that ultimately failed to protect them.

I left the Annex with so much respect for the man. He foresaw Hitler’s plans. He managed to relocate himself and his family to another country. He was able to reboot his business in another country while still providing for his family. He foresaw things degrading further and tried to flee the continent with his family. When that failed he built an incredible labyrinth to hide his family. He was successful for years in hiding from the war and protecting his family.

I realized that Otto Frank was a far better man than I would ever be. He had so much energy and business acumen to take the path that he did. All the while still maintaining a livelihood to provide for his family. Ultimately though it was all for naught.

This is Otto Frank’s lesson to me from one father to another. Do not flee your country. Stay! Push back and push back as hard as you can. Complacency and flight are not the correct course. If you run from evil, it will follow you. If you hide from evil, it will find you. You must confront evil. Someone must confront evil as there is only temporary escape until it is faced down.

Last year, after watching my country continue to be looted by the new robber barons, I decided it was time to think seriously about buying some land in Canada. After all, 2016 saw me hospitalized. I had learned to fear the state of the American healthcare system. As I aged, I feared what healthcare would be like in retirement here the United States. In 2017, I was giving serious consideration to Canada as a place to escape the madness of America.

I went to British Columbia and Vancouver Island. I looked at land north of the border. I realized that I probably had the wherewithal to pull it off. I probably could afford to buy something up north and put a small house on it. About this time, the United States vetoed a resolution in the United Nations condemning Nazis and Nazism. I was dumbfounded.

There I sat looking across the Strait of Juan de Fuca at my country. My grandfather fought in the Battle of the Bulge. My grandfather fought Nazis. I was not Canadian. I was duty bound to fight Nazis in MY country. As I considered my familial and patriotic obligations, I thought of Otto Frank.

And so here I stay in MY COUNTRY. I am pushing back. I am not fleeing. I am putting every ounce of energy(and money) I can into the book Libertarian-Socialism: American Style. In this book, I am trying to show Americans that the scarcity is contrived. The strife in America is stoked and manipulated by moneyed power. I am trying to show Americans that there is an enormous common ground that an oligarchy is obscuring, because the 1% cannot stand against the 99% IF the 99% are united.

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