Bosnia and the Spirit Of Anne Frank
''In spite of everything, I still believe that people are really good at heart....'' (from ''The Diary of a Young Girl''). Anne Frank wrote those words in her diary 52 years ago, barely one month before the Gestapo raided and looted the secret annex in Amsterdam where she and six other Jewish occupants had been hidden for two years. All seven were sent to Dutch and German concentration camps.
In March 1945, just two months before the liberation of Holland, Anne Frank died in the camp at Bergen-Belsen.
Anne's diary awakens many of us today who have become hardened by the atrocities on the nightly news to the realization that we have taken life and liberty for granted here in the United States. While we have remained free from those terrors, the people in war-torn Bosnia have suffered an Anne Frank-type of existence for many years. Because of the war there, the lives of many young people have been tragically and dramatically changed for many of the same reasons that Anne's was: One group of people did not feel another group of people was worthy enough to live side by side with them. They were, instead, to be wiped out of existence.
Amid the rubble and fear, peace is trying to take hold in a land that has known only war for too long. But what will happen to the children of Bosnia, who were afraid to walk the streets of their cities, to play, to sleep through the night without waking to bombs exploding around them, or who have seen family members killed or taken away - never to return? Will they be able (like Anne was) to know that, ''despite everything I still believe that people are really good at heart''? They will if a Bosnia Muslim, Majda Vejzovic, can continue her work (front-page article ''How Children Learned Love in the Middle of Bosnia's War,'' Dec. 27). Ms. Vejzovic is described as a ''woman who early in the war risked her life to set up a kindergarten in Mostar, Bosnia-Herzegovina - not only to teach children, but also to calm and comfort them.''
With Anne Frank-like optimism and courage she created a haven for little ones who needed to occupy their minds and their hearts with things other than the killing and destruction outside their homes. At one point in the article she speaks of her mother teaching her as a child that ''a man who is not able to forgive is not a man.''
Majda Vejzovic has become more than simply a champion of Bosnia's children. She has become their ray of hope, their teacher of forgiveness, their song during the trauma and tragedy. And while the ''peace and tranquility'' that Anne wrote of certainly has not fully come to Bosnia yet, Vejzovic has not allowed ''confusion, misery, and death,'' to be the foundation for the future she is establishing for her 900-plus children.
Vicki Furgatch Dallas
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