When I recall a person in history who was a symbol of the Holocaust as well as a source of inspiration, the first person who comes to mind is Anne Frank. Anne Frank was 12 years old when the anti-Semitic Nuremburg Laws were passed and she legally lost citizenship as a German. Her family fled to Amsterdam during this time to avoid being sent to a concentration camp after her mother was issued papers in 1942. Her father, Otto Frank, had a business factory called Opekta Works, which sold food extracts. Unfortunately, the Nazis began occupying the Netherlands, so Anne and her family lived in the attic of her father’s factory in secrecy with the help of his most trusted employees. During this time, Anne, a witty and energetic writer for her age, documented her experience through her diary.
Perhaps one of her most famous lines was, “Yet in spite of everything I still believe people are really good at heart.” This quote of forgiveness during one of most oppressive times of Jewish persecution in history makes Anne Frank a symbol of forgiveness as well as a figure that will be remembered throughout history.
This is why I find the baptism of Anne Frank by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints offensive. On Feb. 18, 2012, the Mormon-based group violated a pact between Mormon and Jewish leaders made in 2010. The reason this is offensive to so many Jewish leaders is because Anne Frank, like many of the millions of Jews murdered in the holocaust, died for her religious beliefs. Apparently, the baptism of Holocaust survivors was legally barred by an agreement made in 1995.
Mormons believe that posthumous baptism by proxy allows the dead person to “receive the gospel” in the afterlife. They believe that once this departed soul receives the gospel, they can then choose whether they receive it or not. Although this may have been done with good intentions, it cannot be forgotten that they broke an agreement, and that the reason Anne Frank is famous was because of her losing her life for her religious beliefs. Apparently, she was baptized not once, but nine times.
Anne Frank died of typhus at the age of 16, just two weeks before British troops came to the Bergen-Belsen concentration camp in Germany. Her diary is now one of the world’s most widely read books, and is the documentation of a beautiful young girl who was a victim of Jewish persecution. Taking away her Jewish religion through baptism is not only offensive, but it tries to deny and overwrite what made her the source of inspiration and a symbol of sorrow, as well as forgiveness for Jewish people everywhere.
Apparently Anne Frank is not the only Jewish person that the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints has baptized after death. They seem to target many Jewish leaders, including Elie Wiesel. Holocaust survivors have spoken out against it. Although I am open-minded to believe that the Mormon-based group has good intentions, they did this 15 years ago and agreed not to do it again. This is not the first time they have tried baptizing Holocaust victims, and it is disrespectful to their families. When I think of Anne Frank, I will remember her as an amazing girl who had many dreams, but died of persecution, not as a Mormon, but a Jew. I will not remember her as Mormon, but for the incredible diary she wrote and left behind.