News - April 30, 2015

Column: Anne Frank

This year it is 70 years since the Second World War ended, an event that is being widely marked by remembrance services. On 4 May we remember the dead and on 5 May we commemorate the Liberation.

On 4 May a simple remembrance service is always held in Renkum. ‘De Eendracht’ show band plays ‘Abide with Me’. The service moves me. It’s due to the combination of harmonious sounds, the desperation in every war, the senseless deaths, the simplicity of the ceremony and the silence that precedes this hymn.

Some years ago, after the remembrance service, my family and I sat and watched a film about the life of Anne Frank on a commercial TV station. I always detest the long and frequent blocks of adverts and the broadcasters’ overpowering need for high viewing figures. Naturally, the evening of 4 May is the time to screen a film like this; it attracts viewers and that means advertisers. But never mind, the film suited the mood of the day.…

Anne Frank and her family arrived at Auschwitz concentration camp. Their long hair was chopped off with brute force…. Bam! Advert block. An advert about a product that ‘feeds hair and makes it shine’! Later on there was another such moment. In the final days before the camp was liberated, chaos descended and everywhere were corpses and sick and filthy people. The stench rose up to meet you. Commerce cut in with a solution: a cleaning agent that ‘removes all odours and makes walls radiantly shiny’. Using the contact form on their website, we wrote a letter to the commercial broadcaster to express our feelings. We received an immediate no-reply message: ‘Thanks for your enthusiastic reaction!’ Commerce takes no prisoners.

Kees van Veluw (57) teaches Permaculture and is active in organic agriculture networks. His vision stems from his work with African farmers, his networks with Dutch farmers, his family life with his wife, three sons, dog and chickens.