"Surrounded by white men."
After we finished the last pages of The Diary of Anne Frank in middle school, Mrs. Kelly informed the class that Anne and her sister died of typhus in a prison camp, thanks to Adolf Hitler. I was horrified, not just because of the prison camp but because everything I’d be taught as a girl told me that because Anne was Jewish, because she had not accepted Jesus Christ as her Savior, she and the rest of her family were burning in hell. I remember staring at the black-and-white picture of Anne on the cover of my paperback, privately begging God to let her out of the lake of fire. For weeks, I prayed diligently for her departed soul, even though I’d heard that only Catholics did such a thing. I was a pretty intense kid, actually…
In Sunday school, they always make hell out to be a place for people like Hitler, not a place for his victims. But if my Sunday school teachers and college professors were right, then hell will be populated not only by people like Hitler and Stalin, Hussein and Milosevic but by the people they persecuted. If only born-again Christians go to heaven, the piles of suitcases and bags of human hair displayed at the Holocaust Museum represents thousands upon thousands of men, women, and children suffering eternal agony at the hands of an angry God. If salvation is available only to Christians, then the gospel isn’t good news at all. For most of the human race, it is terrible news.
An old girlfriend of mine once related a story of an Ani Difranco concert she went to. Ani told an anecdote about going to a music festival or something when she overheard a curious Christian act singing a song entitled “Did Anne Frank Find Jesus Before She Died?” The anecdote led into a little improv ditty, something along the lines of “Did Jesus Find Buddha Before He Died?”
It’s cute to see the little theological dances in the comments section by all the well-meaning Christians attempting to avoid the very obvious answer, which is to say, “Yes, Anne Frank, being a Jew, would be in Hell in accordance with biblical doctrine.” And not only would Anne Frank be in Hell, but a majority of the 6 million Jews killed in the Holocaust (excluding only perhaps ethnic Jewish converts to Christianity) would be in Hell, suffering for an eternity alongside those that tormented them in life. The Bible contains many contradictions, but it is pretty clear on this point.
Of course, this conclusion is abhorrent even to those who accept the first principle (I personally think that this is great news, as it would seem to prove that not even religion is strong enough to erase our inborn tendencies towards compassion). It isn’t terribly surprising that a Christian’s first reaction to this cognitive dissonance isn’t to say “You’re right, the Bible is a lie!” I merely submit that, if one is interested in a thoroughly honest evaluation of the consistency of one’s own worldview, then the only answer available to the Bible-believing Christian is that Anne Frank is in Hell.
That isn’t to say you can’t be religious, or even a Christian, and believe Anne Frank might have been spared. I would wager, although I certainly can’t say this authoritatively, that most of the theistic people I know would say Anne Frank is NOT in Hell, that the Bible is not to be taken literally, that perhaps God’s true measure of Heaven-worthiness would be the depth of her courage, her unflaggingly optimistic view of humanity, the beauty of her testimony to the horrors of war and tyranny. And hey, that’s fine by me - I’m generally in favor of any worldview that values human virtue over scriptural minutia - but it’s not biblical, and if that’s something you value, it’s a contradiction you will have to work out.
I doubt I need to say this, but as for myself, as an atheist, I have no cognitive dissonance on this point. Anne Frank is not in Hell. She is not in Heaven, she has not attained Nirvana, and she has not been reincarnated (some people think this is a “bleak” outlook. I say, any worldview that would send a scared little girl who died alone in a concentration camp to an eternity of suffering and unanswered pleas for help for what amounts to a theological technicality has absolutely zero fucking business calling any dissenting opinion “bleak”). Anne Frank died in March 1945, and her body was buried in a mass grave at the Bergen-Belsen concentration camp, ending forever the existence of one more witness to the most calculated genocide in human history. A human life was extinguished for a whole host of extremely shitty reasons, and we are right to mourn its loss.
Emperor Hirohito is offering cash for good hangovers, fuck you all I’m retiring early.
From the Smithsonian.
For some reason today I’m really jazzed about side-scan sonar imagery. I don’t know if you were anything like me as a kid (Lord I hope not), but I loved to watch those stupid Discovery Channel shows with titles like GHOSTS: CAUGHT ON TAPE?! Anyway, this is probably the closest we can get to real spirit photography* - peering through thousands of feet of cold, ethereal darkness, tracing the silhouettes of the corpses below.
*Ghosts aren’t real. Fact, not opinion.
Today in “Bizarre Nazi Propaganda”.
A lot of perplexing imagery in this one. Wow. If I’m allowed to say such a thing about Nazi propaganda, some of the criticisms in this poster are actually, well, legitimate. For one thing, there really is a disconnect between the projected image of freedom-loving Yanks coming to cast the chains of tyranny off the oppressed peoples of Europe and the indiscriminate campaign of aerial bombardment of civilian population centers by Allied leaders.
On the other hand, the guys who thought Dachau was a good idea don’t get criticize the Ku Klux Klan in good faith. Sorry, Nazis.
(Also - the Jitterbug? Really?)
One for Rhode Islanders - The Battle of Point Judith:
On May 5, 1945, President (Reichspräsident) of Nazi Germany Karl Dönitz ordered all U-boats to cease offensive operations and return to their bases. U-853 was lying in wait off Point Judith, Rhode Island at the time. According to the US Coast Guard, U-853 did not receive that order, or less likely, ignored it. Soon after, her torpedo blew off the stern of SS Black Point, a 368-foot collier underway from New York to Boston. Within 15 minutes Black Point had sunk in 100 feet of water less than 4 miles south of Point Judith. She was the last US-flagged merchant ship lost in World War II. Twelve men died, while 34 crew members were rescued. One of the rescuing ships, Yugoslav freighter SS Kamen, sent a report of the torpedoing to authorities. The US Navy organized a “hunter-killer” group that included four American warships: Ericsson, Amick, Atherton, and Moberly.
The group discovered U-853 bottomed in 18 fathoms, and dropped depth charges and hedgehogs during a 16 hour attack. At first the U-boat attempted to flee, and then tried to hide by lying still. Both times it was found by sonar. The morning of May 6, 1945 two K-Class blimps from Lakehurst, New Jersey, K-16 and K-58, joined the attack, locating oil slicks and marking suspected locations with smoke and dye markers. K-16 also attacked with 7.2-inch rocket bombs. Numerous depth charge and hedgehog attacks from Atherton and Moberly resulted in planking, life rafts, a chart tabletop, clothing, and an officer’s cap floating to the surface. With the loss of all 55 officers and men, U-853 was the second to last U-boat sunk during World War II. Atherton and Moberly received credit for the kill.
U-853 lies seven miles east of Block Island in 130 feet of water. The US Coast Guard pinpoints the location of the wreck at 41.13 N 71.27 W. U-853 sits upright with her periscope rising to a depth of 100 feet. Most of the 55 crew member bodies remain within the hull, which is a war grave. It is one of the more popular dive sites in Southern New England. The hull has depth charge blast holes: one forward of the conning tower at the radio room and another in the starboard side of the engine room. Entering the wreck is dangerous due to debris, sharp metal edges, and confined spaces.
On May 6 and 7, 1945, Navy divers attempted to enter the wreck to recover the captain’s safe and the papers within, but failed. Recreational divers first visited the site in 1953. In 1960 a recreational diver brought up a body from the wreck. This provoked former navy admirals and clergy to petition the US government for restrictions on disturbing the dead. The German crewman was buried with full military honors in Newport, Rhode Island. At least two recreational divers have died from exploring the wreckage. Renowned deep sea diver Stephen Hardick perished in 2005 while filming the U-boat. He surfaced unconscious and could not be revived. Hardick, age 60, died as the result of saltwater drowning associated with poor health according to the Rhode Island Medical Examiner’s office.
Pictured: Moberly launches a hedgehog attack against U-853.
This is a parade at the RI state psychiatric hospital grounds, sometime in the early twentieth century. The float in this picture is the USS Arizona, a ship that would later feature in one of World War II’s most iconic moments:
The wreck of the USS Arizona is now a memorial for the victims of the Pearl Harbor attack.
Sorry for the shitty quality.
Phoenix war worker Natalie Nickerson penning her Navy boyfriend a thank you note for sending her a Japanese soldier’s skull he gathered as a souvenir while fighting in New Guinea. (Photo by Ralph Crane//Time Life Pictures/Getty Images)
The US Sailor with the Japanese Skull by Winfield Townley Scott
Bald-bare, bone-bare, and ivory yellow: skull
Carried by a thus two-headed US sailor
Who got it from a Japanese soldier killed
At Guadalcanal in the ever-present war: our
Bluejacket, I mean, aged 20, in August strolled
Among the little bodies on the sand and hunted
Souvenirs: teeth, tags, diaries, boots; but bolder still
Hacked off this head and under a leopard tree skinned it:
Peeled with a lifting knife the jaw and cheeks, bared
The nose, ripped off the black-haired scalp and gutted
The dead eyes to these thoughtful hollows: a scarred
But bloodless job, unless it be said that brains bleed.
Then, his ship underway, dragged this aft in a net
Many days and nights - the cold bone tumbling
Beneath the foaming wake, weed-worn and salt-cut
Rolling safe among fish and washed with Pacific;
Till on a warm and level-keeled day hauled in
Held to the sun and the sailor, back to a gun-rest,
Scrubbed the cured skull with lye, perfecting this:
Not foreign as he saw it first: death’s familiar cast.
Bodiless, fleshless, nameless, it and the sun
Offend each other in strange fascination
As though one of the two were mocked; but nothing is in
This head, or it fills with what another imagines
As: here were love and hate and the will to deal
Death or to kneel before it, death emperor,
Recorded orders without reasons, bomb-blast, still
A child’s morning, remembered moonlight on Fujiyama:
All scoured out now by the keeper of this skull
Made elemental, historic, parentless by our
Sailor boy who thinks of home, voyages laden, will
Not say, ‘Alas! I did not know him at all’.