Thursday, January 31, 2013

Margot Frank: (Not Just) Your Typical Teen

Margot Frank as a teen at the beach

As a teenager, I was crazy busy with many activities. I was training seriously in ballet, I had a full load of classes at school, was involved in choir and drama, and in my last two years of high school was on the school paper. Looking at Margot Frank (Anne Frank's older sister by three years) and her life, it seems we both booked our schedules full of things we loved. She was an avid academic, much more so than I was, at least in the math and science arena. And, unlike me, she aced every single one of her classes. In her famous diary, Anne said of Margot: "My sister Margot has also gotten her report card. Brilliant, as usual. If we had such a thing as "cum laude," she would have passed with honors, she is so smart." (Anne Frank, "Diary of Anne Frank")
Alongside her academics, she regularly attended a Jewish youth club, rowed and played tennis, and had an active social life. Anne, in her diary, mentions Margot going to friends' houses to play ping pong. All these things characterize a relatively normal active teenage life. But all this was before things started changing dramatically for the Jews in Holland. The restrictions started around 1940, when Jews were not to be out on the streets between 8pm and 6 am, and they were barred from theaters, movies, and other forms of entertainment. They also were no longer allowed to use swimming pools or athletic fields. I believe one of the most impactful restrictions in Margot's teenage life (along with being "branded" as a Jew by the star required on their clothing, and the eventual rationing of food, etc for Jews) was the fact she could no longer use tennis courts, row, or participate in any athletic activity in public. From my research it seemed as if she was quite active in sports, and to take that passion and outlet away? She must have felt part of her identity ripped away from her in those moments. I can't even imagine what it would be like to have dance taken away from me.

Margot (left) and Anne Frank

Of course the most immediate threat to Margot and her family (and the entire Jewish population) were the "call-ups," the orders to report to a work/concentration camp as part of the "ethnic cleansing" organized by Hitler-- and as it happened, Margot was the first one of the family called. This was the impetus for the Frank family to go into hiding.
Can you imagine being the reason, even though of course it wasn't her fault, for such a huge change in your family's lifestyle? Otto Frank, her father, had planned for his family to go into hiding for at least a year before Margot's call up. He knew this would happen for awhile. Regardless, I am not sure if Margot felt guilty in the two years they lived cramped together in the "secret annexe." I would imagine that thought would skip through even the most logical person's mind at least once.
Judging by Margot's accomplishments in her teenage years, she no doubt would have become an exceptional adult who could have contributed to the world through her kindness and knowledge.


Anonymous said...

Thank you for sharing more of your learnings about Margot. Do you know why she was picked/called up? - AE

Unknown said...

I don't know why she was called first. I will have to do some research on that. But I have a feeling it was random?

Anonymous said...