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  • J.B. Schaefer

What Side of History Would You Be On Today?

Updated: Jan 18, 2022

For over seventy years, The Diary of a Young Girl authored by a 15-year-old Anne Frank was required reading for many high school students. It would chronicle the daily lives of her and her family from 1942 until 1944 while they were in hiding in a secret annex during the German occupation of the Netherlands during World War II. The book would be first published in 1947, two years after Anne's untimely death in the Bergen-Belsen concentration camp.

Most people are well aware of the atrocities the Nazi Party committed against the Jewish People which led to over 6 million deaths, including Anne's mother and sister. In fact, of the eight people discussed in the diary who hunkered down into hiding, only Anne's father, Otto Frank survived the war before returning to Amsterdam to reclaim possession of the poetic details of her young life amidst unimaginable horrors.

Written with insight, humor, and intelligence, the Diary became a classic of war literature, personalizing the Holocaust and offering a moving coming-of-age story. Many believe the book was also a source of inspiration and hope with Anne poignantly writing "I still believe, in spite of everything, that people are really good at heart." This quote is rather significant because as the author of the Banned And Cancelled dystopian book series; I believe the same thing. However, a question that should be explored is "What side of history would you fall on if you were placed into the same situation?"

From time to time, historians debate on who turned the Frank Family into the Gestapo. It has often been assumed that it was employees who worked for Otto Frank's partner who continued the business while he remained in hiding. However, a team including an ex-FBI agent believes that Arnold van den Bergh, a prominent Jewish figure in Amsterdam more than likely provided information to the Gestapo to save his own family from the same potential fate.

Van den Bergh had been a member of Amsterdam's Jewish Council, a body forced to implement Nazi policy in Jewish areas. It was disbanded in 1943, and most of its members were dispatched to the various concentration camps. In fact, all but van den Bergh and his family were sent to the camps and he was allowed to live a normal life in Amsterdam. Furthermore, there was also a suggestion that a member of the Jewish Council was feeding the Nazis information.

According to former FBI agent Vince Pankoke on an episode of CBS 60 Minutes, "When van den Bergh lost all his series of protections exempting him from having to go to the camps, he had to provide something valuable to the Nazis that he's had contact with to let him and his wife at that time stay safe."

Banned And Cancelled starts the series off with the protagonist, Byron putting himself and his family in the crosshairs of The Party by writing a social media post sharing his disdain of tyrannical rule, "How much more are we going to let them take?" The first volume explores ordinary citizens trying to survive in a shattered world, and the second volume of the series goes into details of The Party demanding that fellow citizens "report each other", even their own family members for crimes against The Party.

Nobody can definitively state what they would actually do if placed in the same situation. As the author of Banned And Cancelled, I cannot say that I would not have done the same thing if it meant saving the life of my own family versus a neighbor or friend. I would hope that I would sacrifice myself in the name of what is right, but I cannot honestly say that I would. I can only bow my head and shutter in thought to hope that the story in the series Banned And Cancelled will never come true. It is my hope, that everyone will study history, such as the Anne Frank story, and learn from it. Understanding the past, no matter how hideous it is, will allow us to avoid the same mistakes. No works of art should ever be censored, but be available for all to read. In addition, the government should make available all ideologies without prejudice allowing the reader to form their own opinions.

Banned And Cancelled allows the reader to ask the question, "What would our nation look like if all of the grievances today were addressed and a solution was presented to transform the country into a particular ideological utopia." Even with the best of intentions, The Party created a New Declaration, but the reader will find out that too much of any political ideology without resistance will always ultimately end up creating an authoritarian society resulting in pain, suffering, and endless negative consequences for The People, no matter how unintended.

In this world, we can either assimilate or be one of the countless individuals who are Banned And Cancelled.

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