Today my class wrote you letters. Most of them are 11 years old, turning 12 this year so relatively close to the age when you received your diary. However as you and I both know, the difference from 11 to 13 is immense. The difference between living as a child without care and a young girl hidden away for 2 years is incomprehensible.
The truth is my students are struggling to understand why I have even given them this task. I’m not their History teacher and it isn’t a topic covered in my class. But today is Yom Hashoah, we are honouring you and all our lost ones so I decided it was a suitable activity for the lesson.
But they are young, sheltered, spoilt in most cases. Not necessarily materially spoiled, I’m not talking about electronics and sports shoes. Yet they are spoilt, privileged to live in a time when they are not having to deal face to face with government encouragement in a decimation of their demographic.
We had a beautiful assembly for the entire school. It was led by the 5th graders as is our tradition and they were outstanding, serious, and respectful. The musical accompaniment was sensitive and the readings mature. However, the 6th grade class I am with right now were responsible for the same ceremony last year and yet today they don’t totally understand why we are writing these letters to you.
They are trying. They are sitting in pairs, discussing what they should write and to be honest I haven’t given them many guidelines. And that’s when we stop, and talk, and talk some more. We talk about why you are important and how you were a child, just like they are now. We talk about freedom, what it means to us, freedom of speech, freedom of religion. We talk about racism and injustice and human rights. We started by writing a letter to you and now thanks to you, we are discussing how people treat each other.
We began with your story, our history and we ended up with current affairs. The world is a far from perfect place. Wherever you look there are people hurting or hungry. It’s up to all of us alive today to teach our children to make the world a kinder place to be.
And now I thank you Anne for the thoughts that you shared with Kitty. Without your diary, I wouldn’t have thought of this lesson today. That is the terrible beauty within this horror. By honouring you and everyone else whose life was forfeit during the Holocaust we might have a hope.
To teach our children right from wrong, who they are and where they came from. Above all else, don’t let this happen again, not to us and not to anyone else.
Thinking of you today Anne,