One of my old memories I can’t seem to shake is of a movie I saw in history class in junior high. Although calling it a “movie” is a stretch, as is using the term “history”. It wasn’t so much a movie as it was a serialized fictional historical docuseries based on Anne Frank’s final days in hiding. And the class wasn’t history per se, as lower American education doesn’t like to present historical facts nearly as much as providing an Americanized historical narrative, i.e. “Social Studies”. And I think this memory resurfaced because for one, it was an unsolved problem that my mind had filed away for future rumination; and two, that the current Israeli-Hamas conflict rekindled my ire for the aforementioned narrative.
The narrative goes something like this: the Jews, long an unfairly hated and persecuted people, became the ultimate victims of Nazi Germany’s “final solution”, wherein they were systematically murdered. America, either ignorant or unbelieving of the genocide, forced the world with Britain’s help to face the truth. Nazi leaders were tried for war crimes at Nuremberg and executed, and the Jews were granted their own nation state of Israel, enforced by western powers.
To question this narrative is to risk accusations of antisemitism.
The problem with this story is that it ends. What’s not taught in American schools is the aftermath: Israeli militarization, persecution of the Palestinians, Israeli-backed political assassinations, Israeli cyber attacks (Stuxnet). Or their ancient history of of violence: Zealots, Sicarii.
To mention this is to risk accusations of antisemitism.
The aftermath revealed more than anything that yes, the Jews are people. But they’re not an overly altruistic people. They’re just people, who now have the upper hand. And people who have the upper hand rarely compromise or forget old grievances. As an American who lived through the entirety of the 20-year Afghanistan War, I see this all too well with my own people.
Did the Americans feel bad for the Jews after World War II and use their influence to finally grant them their own safe harbor, or see an opportunity to exploit Allied sentiment and gain an unconditional friend and forward base with which to secure interests in the Middle East?
And did the Israelis in turn exploit their western backing to rekindle a grievance with old enemies? Did this increased hostility force a backlash and spark the Israeli-Hamas conflict? Some students and faculty at Harvard thought so.
And they were quickly accused of antisemitism.
I’ll leave these thoughts without my own conclusions.
Because I don’t want to be accused of antisemitism.
The movie followed the “adventure” of a neo-Nazi who for some reason visits the Holocaust museum in D.C. alone. I’m not sure who let a skinhead with swastika tattoos into such an exhibit, but whatever. Inside, the exhibitions burst into the surrealistic ether, swirling about Mr. Skinhead, which I presume is meant to indicate a religious experience, further enhanced by a Morgan Freeman-esque character who then appears to explain the error of Skinhead’s ways by sending him to live a simulation as a Jew in hiding with the Franks.
Things don’t work out for him. There’s a “surprising” personality clash and he leaves, gets arrested by the Gestapo, and betrays the Franks who then get arrested. Skinhead feels remorse, thus delivering the heavy-handed message.
The Gestapo captain then tells Skinhead that they normally pay 6.5 guilders per Jew, but where he’s going, he won’t need it; then proceeds to level a Luger at Skinhead’s skinhead before a cutaway. There doesn’t appear to be a historical consensus on who informed on the Frank family, so I guess time-travel isn’t ruled out.
So what’s 6.5 guilders worth? A brief history lesson of the German guilder reveals that its usage was discontinued late 19th century, so I figured this to be creative license. Then I remembered Anne Frank wasn’t living in Germany. She was in the Neatherlands. Turns out the Dutch were still using their own version of the guilder, which still has an active currency code of ANG. So 6.5ANG = 3.63USD. Anne Frank was arrested in 1944, so a little handy inflation calculator tells me that Anne Frank was sold out for $62.56 in today’s money, or $375.36 for the whole family of 6. A nice little sum I suppose?
Closure at last, though I can’t find any reliable account that this was the actual going rate.
And no – there isn’t a conclusion to this post. Just a rambling train of thought based on contemporary events.