As humans and as nations, we have a collective responsibility, and the time is running out for us. For all the nations that have supported genocides for generations and watched silently while children of the Earth died, decades after decades, remember that nature has watched us too, and she didn’t stop melting even once.
Stories of Childhood Lost to Warfare: Climate and Conflict | Priyanka Singh
On June 12, 1929, a girl named Anne Frank was born in Frankfurt, Germany, the youngest daughter of a Jewish family. She was almost 5 when the Holocaust started emerging. Hitler and his antisemitism party rose to power in 1933, putting her Jewish family open to vulnerability in an intolerant Germany. So her family decides to move to the city of Amsterdam in search of a safe haven. For the next seven years, things were comparatively blissful for the Frank family compared to the Jews that were still in Germany. In May 1940, Germany invaded the Netherlands and started occupying the territory. Soon after that, anti-Jewish laws were passed. Anne Frank’s family was once again under threat, with antisemitic laws making their livelihood extremely challenging; they were restricted from visiting parks, cinemas, or using public transport. By the summer of 1942, being a Jew in the Netherlands was rather hostile. Friends and acquaintances of Anne’s family were receiving notice to join the concentration camps. One such letter arrived for Margot (Anne’s elder sister) and finally led to the hiding of Frank’s family in the secret annex. They had to follow a strict schedule and be as subtle as possible; sounds could have created suspicion. In the Annex, Anne started documenting her daily life in her diary. A first-hand narrative of her inner complexities, of her courage, and of her kind, gentle spirit that only hoped for peace.
I simply can’t build my hopes on a foundation of confusion, misery, and death. I think peace and tranquility will return again.
In 1944, the annex was discovered, and all eight occupants were taken to the concentration camps. The conditions in the concentration camps were quite severe, and due to a lack of water, food, and sanitation, sickness and death often followed. Anne contracted typhus in Bergen Belsen and lost her life.
It’s almost been a century since Anne Frank was born. She has shared with the world what it is like to be a child stuck in war, to be a part of a world that is constantly rumbling, and still, after decades, children in Palestine are suffering from the very same faith. The sound of war is stealing their childhood; from Nazi occupation to Israeli occupation, history is repeating itself.
The Israeli occupation of Palestinian territory started in 1967. After invading the territory, the Israeli settlers slowly started moving into the Palestinian territory, further aggravating the tension between the Palestinians, who were now being referred to as ‘non-citizens’. In the last two decades, the Gaza Strip has been fenced, and all the basic amenities like food, water, medical supplies, and electricity are controlled by Israel. They feed the civilians just enough to keep them alive. They are under constant watch and restricted from moving freely. The children aren’t allowed to go to school during curfews and are stopped by militants who threaten them. On the other hand, the Palestinian adults often work for the settlers; they build the houses for them, and in return, their houses are bombed, and they are paid poorly.
“I don’t know, but I think students in Europe or America live their life normally without these problems. As a Palestinian child, I hope that I will one day live in freedom and peace and that I can move freely without checkpoints or searches.”
Fatima Katash (A Palestinian Girl)
The condition of the siege in the Gaza Strip is similar to that of the concentration camps. There is a lack of food, water, and sanitation, but the gas chambers have been replaced by shelling. It could be anyone’s turn next; no one knows whose ‘’name will be called out’’ for the chambers (then) or whose house will be bombed next (now).
This makes me wonder what Anne Frank would have thought about Israel’s occupation of Palestinian children. Even though the population of Israel has a majority of Jews, I don’t intend to use these words interchangeably, but rather to empathize that the two communities have suffered the same faith.
We are currently witnessing a war against humanity; the children around the world are suffering, and the constant reminder of injustice against Palestinian children will have a deep impact on collective humanity. We don’t have to wait for another diary of a young child to finally open our eyes and see the truth. It was never the ordinary citizens of the world that wanted war; they wanted peace, justice, and normalcy. The war is not between Palestinians and Israelis but rather between people in power who are starving for more power. For them, killing civilians on any side is a way to spread fear and hate so they can benefit and continue their dictatorship. There is no difference between Hamas and Israeli politicians. However, there is agony among the civilians on both sides.
Moreover, there is also a war within each of us, and we must choose for ourselves where we stand—do we stand with darkness, hate and genocide, or light, love, and peace? The world is at risk of drowning; the glaciers wouldn’t care about human absurdities; they move constantly, melting and slowly drowning parts of the world.
Warfare results in excessive fossil fuel consumption, directly contributing to global warming.As humans and as nations, we have a collective responsibility, and the time is running out for us.
For all the nations that have supported genocides for generations and watched silently while children of the Earth died, decades after decades, remember that nature has watched us too, and she didn’t stop melting even once, so one day when her wilderness finally catches up with us and we have to pay our debts, I hope somewhere a child prayed for our redemption and asked for forgiveness for the sake of humanity.
Words by Priyanka Singh