1942, Amsterdam, Anne Frank, anne frank house, anne frank's marbles, anne frank's toys, anne franke's childhood friend, antique mall, antique marbles, antiques, childhood games, clear marbles, diary of anne frank, historic toys, history, Holocaust, jewish persecution, jewish persecution by the nazis, july 6, Kunsthal, literature, marbles, nazis, nostalgia, nostalgic games, otto frank, playing marbles, Rotterdam, shooters, teresien da silva, the anne frank house museum, The second world war in 100 objects, toosje kupers
Ovation: The Reappearance Of Anne Frank’s Marbles.
Like many children of my day, I went through a period where “playing marbles” was all the rage. We never drew a circle on the ground like some kids but, instead, we would make our circle from a long piece of string. My brother was much better at the game than I was and accumulated many, many more marbles in his collection. I focused my attention on a small collection of fabulous “shooters”. The shooter was the larger marbled that was used to knock the smaller marbles out of the circle to win the game. My prized possession was a clear marble that I never used for game play … it was only for display.
Certainly kids today would find the pastime excruciatingly boring.
Shortly before she and her family went into hiding on July 6, 1942, Anne Frank, gave some of her toys to a friend for safekeeping. Among her prized possessions was a tin of marbles. Anne and her friend, Toosje Kupers, had regularly played on the streets of their Amsterdam neighborhood and she trusted her to look after her marbles, a tea set and a book.
The rest of the story is well-known, the Frank family spent twenty-five months in cramped quarters, with little but an occasional glimpse of the world, hiding from Jewish persecution by the Nazis, as the story was told in Anne’s own words in her now widely read diary.
And all the while Kupers kept Anne’s belongings. After the war ended, she offered them to Anne’s father, Otto Frank, the only member of the family to survive the Holocaust, but she was told that she could keep them.
So she kept Anne’s toys, all but forgotten yet safe from harm, for decades until just over a year ago when they were rediscovered as Kupers prepared to move.
“She discovered she had the marbles somewhere at home in the attic. She immediately contacted us. … We were thrilled that the marbles survived and had been kept. She decided to give everything to the Anne Frank House – the book, the tea set and the marbles.” – Teresien da Silva, Head of Collections, The Anne Frank House Museum.
The book, which Anne received for her thirteenth birthday, as well as the tea set, have already been displayed by The Anne Frank House Museum, but the marbles will be featured for the first time in Kunsthal Rotterdam as part of the exhibition The Second World War in 100 Objects which opens to the public today.
For children during that time, marbles were treasured and they worked very hard to win them and to keep them. It was quite common for Jewish children to give away their toys before going into hiding or being deported. Anne Frank must have taken good care of her marbles because, while they are old, they are said to be in good condition.
I wish I still had my childhood collection. They’d probably bring a pretty penny in an antique mall.
Did you play marbles as a child?
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From → Ovations