Of course WWII is a huge part of German history no matter where you go in the country. But it seems like Frankfurt had a lot more on that front than most places I’d been (or maybe I just learned more about it) with the obvious exceptions of concentration camps and Berlin. So here are some tidbits:
This is the house where Anne Frank lived after she was born. She moved a few streets over before her family fled to the Netherlands. That’s where all the hiding went down, then she was taken back to a concentration camp in Germany where she died (in case you don’t know the story).
The main square in Frankfurt (Römerplatz) is where the Nazi book burnings started. The quote around the outside says: “Where one burns books, one eventually burns mankind.”
This is the wall to the old Jewish cemetery. The plaques are from each Jew from Frankfurt who died in concentration camps. There are over 11,000 of them.
These are the gravestones inside the Jewish cemetery. Notice how there is a lot of empty space.
That’s because the Nazis dug up the graves and piles the gravestones, planning to use the cemetery for other purposes.
The plaque that is covered is for someone who they thought died in the concentration camp, but later found. We saw about six of these just on the one long wall. Hopefully there are others on the other sides.
Here is Anne Frank’s plaque. The stones are from Jews who have come to visit her. There are many plaques with stones on them. Quite a lovely gesture, I think.
Here is a quote from Anne Frank:
My rough translation is: Everyone has the formation of their good character in their own hand.
It’s unfortunate that people must make mistakes to learn and progress in life. But hopefully when we learn, we make the world better. I don’t know a single German that doesn’t regret WWII. But I think they are wonderful people now.
Today starts a new year. Every day can start a new life. I hope we can take Anne Frank’s words to heart and take responsibility into our own hands and make the best of our lives.