Wednesday, June 29, 2011

The Girl in the Window

A couple of years ago a film surfaced showing an ordinary scene, filmed in Amsterdam on July 22, 1941. A young woman is getting married and her friends gather to watch her emerge with her husband-to-be. In the window above, a young girl leans out, smiling, laughing.

That girl was Anne Frank, and this is the only known footage of her. She of course survives because her humble journal, later titled Diary of a Young Girl was posthumously famous, and one of the finest and most enduring narratives of honest struggle with both ordinary and enormous forces in all literature.

That it is literature is undeniable. Anne Frank was already a writer of skill and clarity and precision and that ability was destined to grace many works to come. Her death in Bergen-Belsen concentration camp is a permanent insult to everything we should be. Thinking of it reminds me of poet Hone Tuwhare's lines upon hearing of the death of Martin Luther King.

When you slumped down, mankind was hurled back a billion years to a jellyfish.  

Anne Frank would have turned 82 last week.

She should have.

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