"Truly inspiring to be able to come here. Anne was a great girl. Hopefully she would have been a belieber."
That is what Justin Bieber wrote in the guestbook of the Anne Frank House in Amsterdam last Friday. Anne Frank, of course, died in a Nazi concentration camp in World War II, but became known to the world through the posthumous publication of her diary.
Actually, Bieber's first 2 sentences are fine, it's just the last one--"Hopefully she would have been a belieber"--makes it pretty clear that in his world it's all about him. And some of his recent actions seem to bear that out.
I really don't know what it's like for Justin Bieber; I'm sure the fame and fortune is a two-edged sword, bringing loss of privacy and continual public scrutiny. So I don't want to pile on, except that I'm just saddened by his lack of historic awareness.
I've been to the Bergen-Belsen concentration camp site where Anne Frank was imprisoned and walked the grounds with my German family members, the bride, and our then-2-year old son. There were numerous large earth mounds scattered throughout, with small plaques or markers on each one saying things like "Here lie 5,000 dead."
Anne Frank is buried there somewhere. A teenager murdered by the Nazis. Who never had the chance to have a normal childhood.
The place has a cold sadness about it. I found myself alone for a few minutes in the small visitor's center. All at once I felt so creeped out that I had to practically burst outside to get some air and sunshine.
When I emerged what I so vividly remember is that our son and my cousin's son--both 2--were running around the walks and up onto the mounds, blissfully unaware of the monumental tragedy that took place there. Having the laughter of children seemed a good antidote to the evil that once reigned there.