Over the last couple months, I have seen multiple posts on social media exclaiming that citizens are not to complain while staying indoors, as Anne Frank and many others were able to stay quarantined for several years during WWII. As a result, Anne Frank has become the face of empowerment for many set an unease during this uncertain time, and has allowed people to recognize that the circumstance could be much worse. Whatever this justification may look like, let me make something clear. Creating a correlation between the stay-at-home order and the Jewish plight for survival during a mass genocide is absolutely offensive and stems from complete ignorance.
Most would agree that this comparison was made with the reasonable intention to spread an inspirational message that puts today’s reality into perspective. However, today’s reality is incredibly separate from the reality Jews faced upon persecution in Europe. It is scary to see the lines of this distinction blur and the story of Anne Frank to become belittled and drastically skewed.
Anne Frank was not under lockdown in an attic with her family because she was instructed by her government to do so, in efforts to ensure the safety and health of all citizens from a deadly virus. She was not staying indoors alongside the entirety of the population. Her family members could not simply wait in a line to get food and basic necessities from the store. Her quarantine did not end because it was safe outside, it ended because her family was found by the Gestapo and they were sent to the concentration camps. She was hunted by her own government while she was in quarantine and was later killed.
The Jews hiding from extermination during the Holocaust would have done anything to experience the luxuries we have experienced in quarantine. In this pandemic, citizens have the right to have access to food, basic necessities, social media and news sources and more, and can enjoy the outdoors with caution. We do not have to hide, in fear of violent extermination by our own authorities.
Therefore, you do not have the right to use Anne Frank as a symbol of inspiration in your quarantine, or say that you now understand what she went through, because no, you simply do not. And quite frankly, I am concerned and disappointed in this lack of common knowledge. Unless you have experienced hiding from a state sanctioned genocide, you cannot compare it to your social isolation.