OTD in History… August 5, 1981, President Ronald Reagan fires striking air traffic controllers

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OTD in History… August 5, 1981, President Ronald Reagan fires striking air traffic controllers

By Bonnie K. Goodman, BA, MLIS

On this day in history August 5, 1981, President Ronald Reagan begins firingthe 11,359 air-traffic controllers who ignored his order to return to work after illegal striking two days before, causing the cancellation of thousands of flights. The Professional Air Traffic Controllers Organization or PATCO’s nearly 13,000 members went on strike on August 3, after the government refused to give them a $10,000 raise and shorten their workweek from five to four days, a request of $770 million. The government counter offer only included a package of $40 million, generous but not enough according to PATCO. The strike on August 3, paralyzed air travel, with 7,000 flights canceled. Reagan gave PATCO strikers an ultimatum, return to work within 48 hours or be fired.

Robert E. Poli, the president of PATCO had the union endorsed Reagan as the Republican presidential nominee in the 1980 election. Now a federal judge found Poli in contempt for the strike, fining him $1,000 and the union a million each day of the strike, the rate based on a Congressional law passed in 1955 and upheld by the Supreme Court in 1971. Transportation Secretary Drew Lewis suggested to Reagan that he fired the air traffic controllers, and on August 5, Reagan did just that. Reagan later recognized the significance of his action early in his administration calling it “an important juncture for our new administration. I think it convinced people who might have thought otherwise that I meant what I said.” (Cannon, 438) Reagan banned the strikers for life, while the Federal Labor Relations Authority decertified the union just two months later on October 22.

Historian Joseph A. McCartin and author of “Collision Course: Ronald Reagan, the Air Traffic Controllers, and the Strike That Changed America, argues, “Ronald Reagan not only transformed his presidency but also shaped the world of the modern workplace.” McCartin claims the move “polarized our politics in ways that prevent us from addressing the root of our economic troubles: the continuing stagnation of incomes despite rising corporate profits and worker productivity.” Reagan’s decisive move would both alter the influence of labor unions stripping them of their bargaining power and showed the Soviet Union his strong leadership establishing him as a force to be reckoned with in the Cold War.

SOURCES AND READ MORE

McCartin, Joseph A. Collision Course: Ronald Reagan, the Air Traffic Controllers, and the Strike That Changed America. New York: Oxford University Press, 2011.

Cannon, Lou. President Reagan: The Role of a Lifetime. New York: Public Affairs, 2000.

Bonnie K. Goodman has a BA and MLIS from McGill University and has done graduate work in religion at Concordia University. She is a journalist, librarian, historian & editor, and a former Features Editor at the History News Network & reporter at Examiner.com where she covered politics, universities, religion and news. She has a dozen years experience in education & political journalism.

Remarks and a Question-and-Answer Session With Reporters on the Air Traffic Controllers Strike

August 3, 1981

The President. This morning at 7 a.m. the union representing those who man America’s air traffic control facilities called a strike. This was the culmination of 7 months of negotiations between the Federal Aviation Administration and the union. At one point in these negotiations agreement was reached and signed by both sides, granting a $40 million increase in salaries and benefits. This is twice what other government employees can expect. It was granted in recognition of the difficulties inherent in the work these people perform. Now, however, the union demands are 17 times what had been agreed to—$681 million. This would impose a tax burden on their fellow citizens which is unacceptable.

I would like to thank the supervisors and controllers who are on the job today, helping to get the nation’s air system operating safely. In the New York area, for example, four supervisors were scheduled to report for work, and 17 additionally volunteered. At National Airport a traffic controller told a newsperson he had resigned from the union and reported to work because, “How can I ask my kids to obey the law if I don’t?” This is a great tribute to America.

Let me make one thing plain. I respect the right of workers in the private sector to strike. Indeed, as president of my own union, I led the first strike ever called by that union. I guess I’m maybe the first one to ever hold this office who is a lifetime member of an AFL-CIO union. But we cannot compare labor-management relations in the private sector with government. Government cannot close down the assembly line. It has to provide without interruption the protective services which are government’s reason for being.

It was in recognition of this that the Congress passed a law forbidding strikes by government employees against the public safety. Let me read the solemn oath taken by each of these employees, a sworn affidavit, when they accepted their jobs: “I am not participating in any strike against the Government of the United States or any agency thereof, and I will not so participate while an employee of the Government of the United States or any agency thereof.”

It is for this reason that I must tell those who fail to report for duty this morning they are in violation of the law, and if they do not report for work within 48 hours, they have forfeited their jobs and will be terminated.

Q. Mr. President, are you going to order any union members who violate the law to go to jail?

The President. Well, I have some people around here, and maybe I should refer that question to the Attorney General.

Q. Do you think that they should go to jail, Mr. President, anybody who violates this law?

The President. I told you what I think should be done. They’re terminated.

The Attorney General. Well, as the President has said, striking under these circumstances constitutes a violation of the law, and we intend to initiate in appropriate cases criminal proceedings against those who have violated the law.

Q. How quickly will you initiate criminal proceedings, Mr. Attorney General?

The Attorney General. We will initiate those proceedings as soon as we can. Q. Today?

The Attorney General. The process will be underway probably by noon today.

Q. Are you going to try and fine the union $1 million per day?

The Attorney General. Well, that’s the prerogative of the court. In the event that any individuals are found guilty of contempt of a court order, the penalty for that, of course, is imposed by the court.

Q. How much more is the government prepared to offer the union?

The Secretary of Transportation. We think we had a very satisfactory offer on the table. It’s twice what other Government employees are going to get—11.4 percent. Their demands were so unreasonable there was no spot to negotiate, when you’re talking to somebody 17 times away from where you presently are. We do not plan to increase our offer to the union.

Q. Under no circumstances?

The Secretary of Transportation. As far as I’m concerned, under no circumstance.

Q. Will you continue to meet with them? The Secretary of Transportation. We will not meet with the union as long as they’re on strike. When they’re off of strike, and assuming that they are not decertified, we will meet with the union and try to negotiate a satisfactory contract.

Q. Do you have any idea how it’s going at the airports around the country?

The Secretary of Transportation. Relatively, it’s going quite well. We’re operating somewhat in excess of 50 percent capacity. We could increase that. We have determined, until we feel we’re in total control of the system, that we will not increase that. Also, as you probably know, we have some rather severe weather in the Midwest, and our first priority is safety.

Q. What can you tell us about possible decertification of the union and impoundment of its strike funds?

The Secretary of Transportation. There has been a court action to impound the strike fund of $3.5 million. We are going before the National Labor Relations Authority this morning and ask for decertification of the union.

Q. When you say that you’re not going to increase your offer, are you referring to the original offer or the last offer which you’ve made? Is that still valid?

The Secretary of Transportation. The last offer we made in present value was exactly the same as the first offer. Mr. Poli 1asked me about 11 o’clock last evening if he could phase the increase in over a period of time. For that reason, we phased it in over a longer period of time. It would have given him a larger increase in terms of where he would be when the next negotiations started, but in present value it was the $40 million originally on the table.

1 Robert Poli, president, Professional Air Traffic Controllers Organization.

Q. Mr. Attorney General, in seeking criminal action against the union leaders, will you seek to put them in jail if they do not order these people back to work?

The Attorney General. Well, we will seek whatever penalty is appropriate under the circumstances in each individual case.

Q. Do you think that is an appropriate circumstance?

The Attorney General. It is certainly one of the penalties that is provided for in the law, and in appropriate cases, we could very well seek that penalty.

Q. What’s appropriate?

The Attorney General. Well, that depends upon the fact of each case.

Q. What makes the difference?

Q. Can I go back to my “fine” question? How much would you like to see the union fined every day?

The Attorney General. Well, there’s no way to answer that question. We would just have to wait until we get into court, see what the circumstances are, and determine what position we would take in the various cases under the facts as they develop.

Q. But you won’t go to court and ask the court for a specific amount?

The Attorney General. Well, I’m sure we will when we reach that point, but there’s no way to pick a figure now.

Q. Mr. President, will you delay your trip to California or cancel it if the strike is still on later this week?

The President. If any situation should arise that would require my presence here, naturally I will do that. So, that will be a decision that awaits what’s going to happen. May I just—because I have to be back in there for another appointment—may I just say one thing on top of this? With all this talk of penalties and everything else, I hope that you’ll emphasize, again, the possibility of termination, because I believe that there are a great many of those people—and they’re fine people—who have been swept up in this and probably have not really considered the result—the fact that they had taken an oath, the fact that this is now in violation of the law, as that one supervisor referred to with regard to his children. And I am hoping that they will in a sense remove themselves from the lawbreaker situation by returning to their posts.

I have no way to know whether this had been conveyed to them by their union leaders, who had been informed that this would be the result of a strike.

Q. Your deadline is 7 o’clock Wednesday morning for them to return to work? The President. Forty-eight hours.

The Secretary of Transportation. It’s 11 o’clock Wednesday morning.

Q. Mr. President, why have you taken such strong action as your first action? Why not some lesser action at this point?

The President. What lesser action can there be? The law is very explicit. They are violating the law. And as I say, we called this to the attention of their leadership. Whether this was conveyed to the membership before they voted to strike, I don’t know. But this is one of the reasons why there can be no further negotiation while this situation continues. You can’t sit and negotiate with a union that’s in violation of the law.

The Secretary of Transportation. And their oath.
The President. And their oath.

Q. Are you more likely to proceed in the criminal direction toward the leadership than the rank and file, Mr. President?

The President. Well, that again is not for me to answer.

Q. Mr. Secretary, what can you tell us about the possible use of military air controllers—how many, how quickly can they get on the job?
The Secretary of Transportation. In answer to the previous question, we will move both civil and criminal, probably more civil than criminal, and we now have papers in the U.S. attorneys’ offices, under the Attorney General, in about 20 locations around the country where would be involved two or three principal people.

As far as the military personnel are concerned, they are going to fundamentally be backup to the supervisory personnel. We had 150 on the job, supposedly, about a half-hour ago. We’re going to increase that to somewhere between 700 and 850.

Q. Mr. Secretary, are you ready to hire other people should these other people not return?

The Secretary of Transportation. Yes, we will, and we hope we do not reach that point. Again as the President said, we’re hoping these people come back to work. They do a fine job. If that does not take place, we have a training school, as you know. We will be advertising. We have a number of applicants right now. There’s a waiting list in terms of people that want to be controllers, and we’ll start retraining and reorganize the entire FAA traffic controller group.

Q. Just to clarify, is your deadline 7 a.m. Wednesday or 11 o’clock?

The Secretary of Transportation. It’s 11 a.m. Wednesday. The President said 48 hours, and that would be 48 hours.

Q. If you actually fire these people, won’t it put your air traffic control system in a hole for years to come, since you can’t just cook up a controller in—[inaudible]?

The Secretary of Transportation. That obviously depends on how many return to work. Right now we’re able to operate the system. In some areas, we’ve been very gratified by the support we’ve received. In other areas, we’ve been disappointed. And until I see the numbers, there’s no way I can answer that question.

Q. Mr. Lewis, did you tell the union leadership when you were talking to them that their members would be fired if they went out on strike?

The Secretary of Transportation. I told Mr. Poll yesterday that the President gave me three instructions in terms of the firmness of the negotiations: one is there would be no amnesty; the second there would be no negotiations during the strike; and third is that if they went on strike, these people would no longer be government employees.

Q. Mr. Secretary, you said no negotiations. What about informal meetings of any kind with Mr. Poli?

The Secretary of Transportation. We will have no meetings until the strike is terminated with the union.

Q. Have you served Poli at this point? Has he been served by the Attorney General?

The Attorney General. In the civil action that was filed this morning, the service was made on the attorney for the union, and the court has determined that that was appropriate service on all of the officers of the union.

Q. My previous question about whether you’re going to take a harder line on the leadership than rank and file in terms of any criminal prosecution, can you give us an answer on that?

The Attorney General. No, I can’t answer that except to say that each case will be investigated on its own merits, and action will be taken as appropriate in each of those cases.

Q. Mr. Lewis, do you know how many applications for controller jobs you have on file now?

The Secretary of Transportation. I do not know. I’m going to check when I get back. I am aware there’s a waiting list, and I do not have the figure. If you care to have that, you can call our office, and we’ll tell you. Also, we’ll be advertising and recruiting people for this job if necessary.

Q. Mr. Secretary, how long are you prepared to hold out if there’s a partial but not complete strike?

The Secretary of Transportation. I think the President made it very clear that as of 48 hours from now, if the people are not back on the job, they will not be government employees at any time in the future.

Q. How long are you prepared to run the air controller system—[ inaudible]?

The Secretary of Transportation. For years, if we have to.

Q. How long does it take to train a new controller, from the waiting list?

The Secretary of Transportation. It varies; it depends on the type of center they’re going to be in. For someone to start in the system and work through the more minor office types of control situations till they get to, let’s say, a Chicago or a Washington National, it takes about 3 years. So in this case, what we’ll have to do if some of the major metropolitan areas are shut down or a considerable portion is shut down, we’ll be bringing people in from other areas that are qualified and then start bringing people through the training schools in the smaller cities and smaller airports.

Q. Mr. Secretary, have you definitely made your final offer to the union?

The Secretary of Transportation. Yes, we have.

Q. Thank you.

Note: The President read the statement to reporters at 10:55 a.m. in the Rose Garden at the White House.

APP Note: In the “Public Papers of the Presidents” series, this document is titled, “Statement and a Question-and-Answer Session With Reporters on the Air Traffic Controllers Strike.” It was re-titled to reflect the fact that the president read a prepared written statement.

 

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OTD in History… August 4, 1944, Anne Frank and her family are captured by the Nazis

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OTD in History… August 4, 1944, Anne Frank and her family are captured by the Nazis

By Bonnie K. Goodman, BA, MLIS

Anne Frank in 1941. Source: Anne Frank Fonds

On this day in history August 4, 1944, the Nazi Gestapo captured Anne Frankand her family, and fellow Jews, the van Pels family and Fritz Pfeiffer all of whom were hiding at Otto Frank’s office building 263 Prinsengracht in Amsterdam in a Secret Annex above the offices. After 10 a.m. in the morning on August 4, SS-Oberscharführer Karl Silberbauer of “the Sicherheitsdienst” and some Dutch police collaborators two of which are known, Willem Grootendorst and Gezinus Gringhuis stormed into the annex directly through the bookcase that hides the entryway, they stayed two hours. It has longed been believed the Franks had been tipped off by a source informed the Nazis police there were Jews hiding there.

The Gestapo forced the Franks and vans Pels to hand over all their valuables, and the Gestapo turned over everything within the annex, including throwing out Otto Frank’s briefcase containing Anne’s diary from the time she was turned thirteen through their hiding. Additionally, they arrested two of the Christians, Victor Kugler, and Johannes Kleiman, who had been taking care of the Franks, and sent them to Amersfoort penal camp. The other two, Otto’s secretary Miep Gies and typist Bep Voskuijl, who helped the Franks were questioned but not arrested. On August 5, Gies went back to the annex, where she found Anne’s diary, the notebooks and pages she added to it and the Franks family albums, and hide them.

There started Anne’s journey through the Nazi concentration camps, that, she, her sister Margot and her mother Edith would never survive. Their mother died at Auschwitz while Anne and Margot died in Bergen-Belsen barely two months before the camp was liberated. Only her father survived. Miep Gies returned Anne’s diaries to him after the war ended, he edited Anne’s diary and had it published, he chose passages from Anne’s original and edited versions of her diaries. After his death, the Netherlands Institute for War Documentation (Rijks Instituut voor Oorlogs documentatie (RIOD) published the full version of her diaries, finally giving a complete depiction of Anne and the events of those two years in hiding through her eyes. The diary was a real-time glimpse of Jewish survival and hiding in Nazi-occupied Europe. As Soviet writer Ilya Ehrenburg said of Anne’s diary, “One voice speaks for six million — the voice not of a sage or a poet but of an ordinary little girl.” Although Anne left a trail of her life in the secret annex in her diary, questions remain as to who really betrayed the family and when she died.

Anne Frank was born Annelies Marie Frank on June 12, 1929, in Frankfurt, Germany, she had an older sister Margot Betti, four years older, the family was liberal Jews. With Adolf Hitler’s rise to power in 1933, the Franks moved Amsterdam, Netherlands, Otto first, then Edith and the children. There they established a routine, Otto worked at Opekta Works, a company that extracted pectin, and they lived in an apartment in Merwedeplein (Merwede Square) in Rivierenbuurt, Amsterdam. In 1938, Otto established a second company Pectacon, which sold “herbs, pickling salts, and mixed spices.” Both girls went to mixed schools, Margot to public schools and Anne to a Montessori school.

Life would change for the Franks again, unsettling them once more, in May 1940, when the Nazis invaded the Netherlands. They instituted “discriminatory laws” against the Jewish population, including “mandatory registration and segregation.” Anne and Margot would have to attend the Jewish school, the Jewish Lyceum, secondary school. Otto had to transfer his business to Christians to avoid the Nazis confiscating them. He transferred Pectacon to Johannes Kleiman, and then it is was liquidated with assets transferred to Gies and Company operated by Jan Gies. Otto Frank tried in vain to acquire visas for the family to immigrate first to the United States in 1938 and then Cuba in 1941, but the US consulate closed in the interim with the Nazi invasion, and the whole application was lost, while the Cuban application was granted only for Otto in December 1941.

Anne’s father bought her a small red-and-white-plaid autograph book she wanted for her thirteenth birthday on June 12, 1942, which she immediately started to use as a diary recording her last month of freedom. On July 5, the SS called up Margot then sixteen to report for a work camp. Otto Frank was planning to hide the family and he intended they go into hiding on July 16, 1942. Margot’s call up from the Zentralstelle für jüdische Auswanderung (Central Office for Jewish Emigration) forced the family to make their move quicker than anticipated.

On Monday, July 6, 1942, the family left their apartment in disarray, with a note implying they fled to Switzerland. Anne left neighbor and friend Toosje Kupers some of her prized possessions including the family cat, Moortje. They walked to the “Opekta offices on the Prinsengracht,” where they hid in a three-floor space called the Achterhuis, “Secret Annex,” which was later concealed by a heavy large bookcase. Four Christian employees Victor Kugler, Johannes Kleiman, Bep Voskuijl, and Miep Gies knew about the Franks hiding and helped them with food and supplies. In addition, Gies husband Jan knew and Voskuijl’s father Johannes Hendrik Voskuijl, who also helped.

A week later on July 13, another family joined the Franks the van Pels, which included Hermann and Auguste and their sixteen-year-old son Peter. In November a friend of the van Pels, a dentist also from Germany Fritz Pfeffer, would be the join them in the annex. After hearing that the Netherlands wanted people to write diaries recounting the war for publication after the war, Anne began editing her diary and writing with focus. Anne took it seriously because she wanted to become a writer and journalist.

In her diary, Anne recounted in detail not only her feeling and thoughts but also the daily lives and tensions of living in a small space with little food available. She gave aliases to the van Pels and Pfeffer, calling them van Daan and Alfred Dussel respectively. Anne shared a room with Pfeffer and she had the most tensions and clashes with him, portraying him the most negatively in her diary than anyone else. She recounted her difficult relationship with her mother and sister, which she became closer to in the two years, and her blossoming romance with Peter.

Although the two years were difficult in tight quarters and never seeing the outside or anyone else, their nightmare began on August 4, 1944, when the Gestapo charged into the annex. To the Nazis, the Franks were considered criminals for not replying to the notice for Margot in 1942, and for hiding. From the annex, the Franks van Pels and Pfeffer were taken to Huis van Bewaring (House of Detention), a prison on the Weteringschans. They then spent a month in Westerbork transit camp and because they were branded as criminals, the Franks were sentenced to hard labor in the Punishment Barracks.

One of the biggest mysteries surrounding the Franks’ capture was who betrayed them? The Anne Frank House and even police investigations have never been able to pinpoint who betrayed the family. Gerard Kremer recently wrote a book, The Backyard of the Secret Annex giving the latest theory. Kremer’s father, Gerard Kremer, Sr. was the janitor at a building behind the Prinsengracht building. Kremer claims Ans van Dijk, who collaborated with the Nazis after her 1943 arrest helped capture 145 Jews, was the one responsible, she was executed in 1948. Kramer claims his father said he overheard van Dijk speaking with the Nazis about the building where the Franks were hiding. A spokesperson for Anne Frank House, the museum of the building and the secret annex, claims, “Ans van Dijk was included as a potential traitor in this study. We have not been able to find evidence for this theory, nor for other betrayal theories.”

Another book published in 2015, written by Flemish journalist Jeroen de Bruyn and Joop van Wijk, the typist Bep Voskuijl’s “youngest son” claims Bep’s younger sister Nelly was the one who notified the Nazis about the Franks. The book is entitled, Bep Voskuijl, het zwijgen voorbij: een biografie van de jongste helper van het Achterhuis (Bep Voskuijl, the Silence is Over: A Biography of the Youngest Helper of the Secret Annex). Van Wijk states that Nelly did not like that Bep and her father helped the Jewish families, while older sister Diny and her fiancé Bertus Hulsman remember Nelly calling the Gestapo on the day the Franks were captured. Nelly was a known Nazi collaborator, and the SS Officer Karl Silberbauer was noted as saying, the informant had “the voice of a young woman.”

The Anne Frank House did a study in 2016 reexamining the day of the Franks arrest, looking at previously unavailable sources. The study refuted both claims; instead, concluding an investigation into ration card fraud or activities in the company was the most probable reason, which led the Gestapo to the secret annex because the police unit dealt primarily with economic crimes. The report listed some of the possibilities. Otto Frank was certain someone had betrayed his family, and he reserved his greatest suspicion for Willem van Maaren, a new warehouse worker, who replaced the trusted Johan Voskuijl, who had built the bookcase hiding the room. There was, however, no evidence implicating van Maaren, except Frank and those that helped the families were suspicious of him, he was the only one ever questioned by the police and judiciary.

Historians have different opinions. Melissa Müller, the author of Anne Frank: The Biography, believes Lena Hartog, “the wife of another warehouseman” could have been behind the betrayal. Carol Ann Lee that author of The Hidden Life of Otto Frank thought Dutch National Socialist Tonny Ahlers could have betrayed them, while David Barnouw and Gerrold van der Stroom of The Netherlands Institute for War, Holocaust and Genocide Studies do not believe Van Maaren, Hartog, or Ahlers were involved.

According to the Anne Frank House, the closest possibility was related to illegal ration cards, they used Anne’s diary as evidence. From March 10, 1944, onward, Anne wrote about a “B” and “D”, most probably salesmen Martin Brouwer and Pieter Daatzelaar, saying, “B. and D. have been caught, so we have no coupons . . .” On March 22, she wrote, “B. & D. have been let out of prison.” As the Anne Frank House concludes, “The possibility of betrayal has of course not been entirely ruled out by this, nor has any relationship between the ration coupon fraud and the arrest been proven. Further research into the day-to-day activities at Otto Frank’s company and what else was happening in and around the premises could potentially provide more information. This article is a first step in thinking more broadly about the raid on the Secret Annex. Hopefully, it will also inspire other researchers to pursue new leads. Clearly, the last word about that fateful summer day in 1944 has not yet been said.”

Luck was not with the Franks, they left Westerbork on the last train taking Jews to the concentration camps. The Franks, van Pels, and Pfeffer were sent to Auschwitz, and the Franks were separated, only Edith, Margot and Anne stayed together. In October 1944, the Frank women were supposed to be transferred to “Liebau labor camp in Upper Silesia” but Anne had scabies, her mother and sister stayed behind and their fate was sealed. On October 28, the Nazis were forced to abandon Auschwitz, as the allies were closing in, they selected Margot and Anne to go to Bergen-Belsen concentration camp but their mother had to stay behind were she died. Bergen-Belson was a death trap of disease and by February the Frank sisters were battling typhus and died either at the end of February or March, another mystery left unsolved.

With the publication of her diary, Anne Frank became immortalized forever, the teenage Jewish victim of the Holocaust. Her father commented in his memoirs, “For me, it was a revelation … I had no idea of the depth of her thoughts and feelings … She had kept all these feelings to herself.” Anne’s story was first published in the original Dutch in 1947 as Het Achterhuis, The Secret Annex and in the United States in 1952 as Anne Frank: The Diary of a Young Girl. The book has been translated in 60 different languages all over the world selling more 30 million copies; it has been made into stage plays, a Hollywood movie, and taught in school. Melissa Müller in Anne Frank: The Biography wrote of her legacy, “Over the past sixty years, Anne Frank has become a universal symbol of the oppressed in a world of violence and tyranny.” (Mueller, 13) Holocaust survivor and author Primo Levi explained, “One single Anne Frank moves us more than the countless others who suffered just as she did but whose faces have remained in the shadows. Perhaps it is better that way; if we were capable of taking in all the suffering of all those people, we would not be able to live.”

Anne Frank’s legacy is even more important now as Holocaust survivors are dying out. Speaking to NBC News this past spring Holocaust survivor Sonia Klein, 92, pondered, “We are not here forever. Most of us are up in years, and if we’re not going to tell what happened, who will?” A recent study by “Schoen Consulting and commissioned by The Conference on Jewish Material Claims Against Germany” determined the Americans are uneducated and ignorant about the Holocaust, 11 percent of all Americans have never heard of the Holocaust, the number is more devastating among millennials, where one fifth have never heard of the worst genocide in history.

Even if Americans know about the Holocaust, Americans do not know the facts, a third of all Americans and 41 percent of millennials do not realize that 6 million Jews perished and 12 million people in total. Klein expressed, “It’s a must for people to remember, once we are gone they must not be forgotten.” She worries “Unless you know what happened, you don’t understand what never again means.” Despite what Müller wrote about Anne’s diary being considered “often, though only secondarily, as a document of the Holocaust,” it should not, it has to be remembered for what it is primarily, about the Holocaust, because in no other circumstance, would Anne Frank have lived and died as she did. We have to have to educate, remember, read and learn the stories of the Holocaust, not just Anne Frank’s to keep Holocaust victims and survivors’ memory alive and history from ever repeating itself.

SOURCES AND READ MORE

Amir, Ruth, Pnina Rosenberg, and Anne Frank. The Diary of a Young Girl.

Hackensack Salem Press Amenia, NY Grey House Publishing, 2017.

Frank, Anne, Otto Frank, and Mirjam Pressler. The Diary of a Young Girl: The Definitive Edition. London: Penguin, 2012.

Müller, Melissa, Rita Kimber, and Robert Kimber. Anne Frank: The Biography, Updated and Expanded with New Material. New York, N.Y. Picador, 2014.

Lee, Carol A. The Hidden Life of Otto Frank. 2006.

Bonnie K. Goodman has a BA and MLIS from McGill University and has done graduate work in Judaic Studies at Concordia University. She is a journalist, librarian, historian & editor, and a former Features Editor at the History News Network & reporter at Examiner.com where she covered politics, universities, religion and news. She has a dozen years experience in education & political journalism.

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