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To build up a future, you have to know the past.
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"There are no walls, no bolts, no locks that anyone ca nput on your mind."
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"I shall remember the look in Margot's eyes all my life."
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''I think it is not only important that people go to the Anne Frank House to see the secret annex, but also that they are helped to realise that people are also persecuted today because of their race, religion or political convictions.''
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“For me, it was a revelation. There, was revealed a completely different Anne to the child that I had lost. I had no idea of the depths of her thoughts and feelings.”
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‘After my return from the concentration camp it was very difficult to start a new life without my loved ones. I was alone and stayed with the friends who had so devotedly helped us during our years in hiding. Naturally I had to go back to work (...) I felt obliged to build the business back up in order to see to the needs of my friends who worked there and who had given us so much help during our two years in hiding. In my free time I established contact with many people who had suffered the same fate that I had. Many of them were young people who had lost their parents, and I tried to help them wherever I could. This is how I met my present wife (Fritzi). We married in 1953 and moved to Basel.’
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“Of course, all of us had to work in the camp, but in the evenings we were free and we could be together. For the children especially, there was a certain relief; to no longer be cooped up and to be able to talk to other people. However, we adults feared being deported to the notorious camps in Poland."
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‘It was about half past ten. I was upstairs in the van Pels’s part of the house, in Peter’s room, doing schoolwork with him. Suddenly someone came running up the stairs. Then the door flew open and a man stood before us holding his pistol aimed at my chest. Downstairs all the others were already assembled. My wife and the children and the van Pels family were standing there with raised hands. Then Fritz Pfeffer came in, followed by another stranger. The policemen ordered us to hand over our valuables. Silberbauer took Anne’s briefcase. He shook everything out, dumping the contents on the floor, so that Anne’s papers and notebooks and loose sheets lay scattered all over the floorboards.’
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"Every child has to raise itself."
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‘Anne’s diary was a great help for me in regaining a positive outlook on the world. With its publication, I hoped to help many people, and that proved to be the case.’
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‘I can no longer talk about how I felt when my family arrived on the train platform in Auschwitz and we were forcibly separated from each other.'
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'I will never forget the moment when Peter van Pels and I saw a group of selected men. Among those men was Peter’s father. The men were marched away. Two hours later, a lorry came by, loaded with their clothing.'
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"One day in Auschwitz I became so dispirited that I couldn't carry on. They had given me a beating, which wasn't exactly a pleasant experience. It was on a Sunday, and I said: 'I can't get up'. Then my comrades said: 'That's impossible, you have to get up, otherwise you're lost'. They went to a Dutch doctor, who worked with the German doctor. He came to me in the barracks and said: 'Get up and come to the hospital barracks early tomorrow morning. I'll talk to the German doctor and make sure you are admitted'. Because of that I survived."
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‘Peter was lucky to get a job at the post office in the camp which was established for the SS soldiers and the non-Jewish prisoners who got mail and parcels.’
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‘Peter acted like a son to help me. Every day he brought me extra food. . . He never could stay long. We never discussed serious matters and he never spoke about Anne. I did not have the impression that he matured much.’
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When you write in such a profound manner and share your thoughts and innermost feelings, the impact on the world can be robust.
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''I hope we can see each other at home when peace prevails. This cannot last much longer, surely?'' Otto Frank
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‘I am now nearly ninety and my powers are slowly waning. But the duty Anne left me continues to give me new strength – to fight for reconciliation and human rights throughout the world.’
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“I still cannot decide whether to tell you more comprehensively of some of my experiences – the main thing is that you know I am alive and well. How the thought always torments me, that I have no idea how Edith and the children are, you no doubt understand. I do however hope to see all well again and I do not want to lose hope.’
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I hope Anne's book will have an effect on the rest of your life so that insofar as it is possible in your own circumstances, you will work for unity and peace.
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‘I am really close to tears: I cry very easily. But I want you to know that I am healthy… I try not to worry and I’m sleeping very well. Of course thoughts of Edith and the children never leave me, but I try to look at things more from the positive than the negative side.’
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“How could I have known how much it meant for her to see a patch of blue sky, to observe the flying seagulls, or how important that chestnut tree was to her, when she had never shown an interest in nature before. But once she felt like a caged bird, how she longed for it. Even just the thought of the open air gave her comfort, but she kept all these feelings to herself.”
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''I don't like it. I don't know what's going to happen, I'm scared of the right.''
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“I just can't think how I would go on without children having lost Edith already... It's too upsetting for me to write about them. Naturally, I still hope, and wait, wait, wait.”
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“We all had lots of stories of our sad experiences - they mourned the death of my wife with me - but we were hopeful that the children would return.”
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