Lisl Hirsh was working as a nurse at the Bergen-Belsen concentration camp when she met the young Anne Frank

By Georgia Slater
June 12, 2020 02:26 PM
ADN-Bildarchiv/ullstein bild/Getty

Massachusetts surgeon Dr. Michael Hirsh is honoring the late Anne Frank on what would have been her 91st birthday by sharing the story of when his mother and the Holocaust victim crossed paths at the same concentration camp.

During Thursday's coronavirus briefing for the city of Worcester, Massachusetts, Hirsh paid tribute to Frank, sharing that she tried to stay positive during trying times — something that people should try to do today as the nation battles a pandemic, MassLive reported.

Hirsh shared that his mother, Lisl Hirsh, met Frank at the Bergen-Belsen concentration camp in Germany, where Frank was sent in 1944 after her family was discovered hiding in Amsterdam by Nazis.

"My mother was a nurse in the infirmary in the hospital and all the people that came to the camp had to be checked out to make sure they didn’t have lice or typhus or any of these other communicable diseases," Hirsh shared, according to MassLive.

Lisl, who recently turned 95, described Frank as "your typical kind of preteen girl," Hirsh said. "Very bouncy."

After one year in the concentration camp, Frank died, potentially from typhus, alongside her sister in 1945.

“I wanted to honor her and I wanted to also say that I think when times look at their bleakest, we can use a little bit of this sense of positivity that we will come through this,” Hirsh said as he displayed a popular quote on screen from Frank.

The quote came from a diary that Frank received for her 13th birthday — which later went on to become a historical phenomenon and best-seller — reading, "I keep my ideals, because in spite of everything I still believe that people are really good at heart.”

Hirsh explained that Frank's optimism is what he's been trying to "instill" in his conferences.

"I have as I think an innate sense of optimism that we can do this," he said.

Like Hirsh, millions of people around the world are paying tribute to Frank on her birthday and remembering her for her inspiring voice.

"91 years ago, #AnneFrank was born. For millions, she was their window into the Holocaust. Though Anne wrote most of her diary while hiding from the Nazis, she inspired us with her ability to believe in the enduring power of hope," the US Holocaust Museum tweeted Friday.

The Anne Frank House — which still stands in Amsterdam today as a museum and a site for educational programming — also shared memories of Frank, recounting the day she received her diary.

"On this day in 1942, Anne receives her first, red-checked diary for her 13th birthday. 'Maybe one of my nicest presents...' she wrote," the account tweeted, going on to ask, "What does the diary of Anne Frank mean to you these days?"

Other social media users thanked Frank for her courage and shared some of the teenager's most powerful quotes in her honor.

"Whenever you think you are alone in this world, remind yourself of these powerful words: 'Look at how a single candle can both defy and define the darkness.' I never cease to be amazed at this girl's bravery and wisdom. We can all learn a lesson from #AnneFrank," one person wrote.

Another added, "Happy birthday to #AnneFrank. If she hadn’t been killed at age 15 in the Holocaust, she would have been 91 years old today. Thank God her diary lives on, so we can still hear her voice."