Exploring the meaning of life…

Posts tagged ‘Auschwitz’

What does goodness look like?

 

Despite everything, I believe that people are really good at heart.  Anne Frank.

Warning, today’s blog contains some pictures that are hard to look at, but they accurately portray what happened in the concentration camps during the Holocaust.

Anne Frank was born on June 12th, 1929.  For her 13th birthday, her father bought her a book that Anne had seen in a shop window.  It was red and white with a checkered cloth cover and had a lock.  Anne, who wanted to be a journalist, turned it into a diary and wrote in it everyday.  She was thirteen, the age when girls like to chat with girlfriends about boys, have birthday parties and slumber parties, write notes back and forth at school and begin to fantasize about what their future might hold for  them. Unfortunately for Anne, most of her dreams were never  going to come true.

When Hitler began murdering Jews in Germany, she and her family moved to Amsterdam.  When they began to round up Jews in Amsterdam in 1942, she and her family were forced into hiding  in secret rooms above her father’s business.  They remained there until 1944 when someone tipped off the authorities.  When they were captured and sent to the Punishment Barracks they were considered hard criminals because they were hiding and were forced to perform hard labor for a time, after which they were scheduled to go to the Auschwitz  Concentration Camp.

Their hiding place above the business.

  The whole family was taken to Auschwitz, but they became separated from Anne’s father and never saw him again.  Upon their arrival, half of the 1019 Jews that were still alive were sent directly to the gas chamber and murdered – they were all under the age of 15 and deemed useless in performing labor.  Upon their arrival, Anne, Margot and their mother were stripped, their heads shaved and tattooed.  There was never adequate food, so Anne’s mother gave hers to her girls.  Anne contracted scabies and had to stay in the infirmary for a while where rats crawled over her every night.  Margot became so weak that she fell off of her bunk and died.  Anne died a few days later as did her mother.

This is what Anne faced at the concentration camp.

Anne’s father was the only one who survived the concentration camps.  When the war was over and he came home, he found that his friends had gone to their hiding place after the police left and saved Anne’s diary.  Of course, he was moved to tears to read her comments about the inherent goodness of mankind and finally convinced a publisher to publish it.  Now, it is second only to the Bible as the most read book in the world.  In the diary Anne wrote:  “I want to be useful or bring enjoyment to all people, even those I’ve never met.  I want to go on living after my death.  And that’s why I’m so grateful to God for having given me this gift, which I can use to develop myself and to express all that’s inside of me!”  Anne did achieve this dream.  Her goodness lives on in her words.  The goodness of her heart is amazing.  When you read this book you wonder if she was for real.  The answer is yes.  She lived and died at the hands of a madman who had nothing but hate in his heart.  She’s free now and I’m sure her whole family is together again and blissfully happy.  God blessed her talent during her short life to create for us a picture of what real goodness looks like. 

Tombstone of Anne and Margot Frank.

  

What is the worth of a human soul?

When I consider thy heavens,
the works of thy fingers, the
moon and the stars, which
thou has ordained; What is
man, that thou art mindful of
him? and the son of man, that
thou visitest him?
Psalm 8 

Have you ever stood on a cloudless night and gazed at the stars high above? Were you overwhelmed with the vastness of our universe? Most people have contemplated the significance of life and have asked themselves the burning questions: Do I matter in this world? Does God even know I’m here? What is the significance of mankind? What reason do I have to live?

I can picture David on a hillside tending his sheep and gazing at the stars wondering the same things we wonder now. When you realize that you are a tiny speck on a speck, it is natural to wonder why God cares for us. Victor Frankl survived unimaginable horrors in the concentration camp at Auschwitz during the Holocaust and was compelled to answer the question – what reason do I have to live? His experiences are documented in his 1946 book The Meaning of Life. His conclusion was that the meaning of life is found in every moment of living; life never ceases to have meaning, even in suffering and death. He wrote:

“We stumbled on in the darkness, over big stones and through large puddles, along the one road leading from the camp. The guards kept shouting at us and driving us with the butts of their rifles. Anyone with very sore feet supported himself on his neighbor’s arm…the icy wind did not encourage talk. Hiding his mouth behind his upturned collar, the man marching next to me whispered suddenly, ‘If our wives could see us now! I do hope they are better off in their camps and don’t know what is happening to us.’

That brought thoughts of my own wife to mind…occasionally I looked at the sky, where the stars were fading and the pink light of the morning was beginning to spread behind a dark bank of clouds. But my mind clung to my wife’s image, imagining it with an uncanny acuteness. I heard her answering me, saw her smile, her frank and encouraging look. Real or not, her look was then more luminous than the sun which was beginning to rise.

A thought transfixed me: for the first time in my life I saw the truth…that love is the ultimate and the highest goal to which man can aspire…I understood how a man who has nothing left in this world may still know bliss…For the first time in my life I was able to understand the contemplation of an infinite glory.” (The Meaning of Life)

It is my hope that we can all gaze at the stars in the sky and see the love and glory of God. It is then when we will realize the worth of a human soul.

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