COVID 19: "This quarantine in which we live is neither hell nor tragedy. Hell is living as Anne Frank lived. Tragedy is dying as she died."

Today's "Behind the Curtain" takes us back to a well-known story, similar to mine and ours. That looks like yours. From 1940 to 2020 or the lesson that the past gives to the present. This is the life story of Anne Frank, the Jewish girl, of pure soul and innocent age, who was forced to live in hiding to try to escape Hitler's regime.

The Frank family's flight to Amsterdam came in 1934, shortly after the rise of Nazism to power. The beginning of persecution of the Jewish people left them no choice.

In Holland, the first days were of normalcy and tranquility. Anne, parents and sister had a peaceful life, with quality and without a start, but this phase would not last long.

The German invasion of the Netherlands (1940) changed everything. It was a viral moment that forced some to take refuge in their homes, others to fight for the lives of their compatriots, many to die in their name.

Anne's family decided that the only solution would be to hide. Being on the street was not an option, as it was too dangerous. Staying at home was less risky, it was the only way out.

The next two years were spent in conditions that many of us would hardly survive: confined in a secret, cramped annex and without the minimum conditions of habitability, they had no electricity, water or gas. They had no television or any other distractions.

Altogether, there were eight people (others joined later), huddled in a kind of labyrinth, strategically set up so as not to be seen. A dollhouse hidden by old closets, sloping staircases and closed curtains.

Not a ray of the sun. Not the shadow.

The bath was weekly and rationed by the cup. Food is scarce and scrupulously shared.

Life was lived like that. To survive but little.

Once a day, they turned on the radio at low volume and listened to the news. They hoped they were good, but they were rarely encouraging.

They knew, however, that that prison guaranteed them freedom. They knew that it was better to be alive in a temporary cell than to be killed in any open-air ditch.

The days passed slowly and the silence was only interrupted by the crash of the bombs that fell, sometimes farther, sometimes close. On those occasions, hearts raced, fear gained space, tears welled up.

Day after day the anguish was permanent. There was a feeling in everyone that at any moment the Germans would break down the door and lead everyone to certain death.

The young woman described all this in a small diary offered by her father. It was there that he told intimate details of his daily experience, such as the flirtation he had with a young man who joined them in the immense pain of losing the grandfather he loved so much.

It was there that he wrote what he felt every moment, what he dreamed of being when he was big, what he feared most as a girl. It was through its publication, years later, that humanity came to know the deprivation that Anne and her family went through. It was through its dissemination that we learned what that long and painful "quarantine" was like.

Despite so many sacrifices, the Frank family was denounced, caught and sent to "labor camps" in Germany. Anne died ill at the age of 15. Ironically, almost at the end of the conflict he suffered so much to overcome.

There is no need to draw pictures to explain the relationship of this story to what we are all facing now.

What the Franks went through, out of obligation, we are going through prevention. Our distance from people is due to the containment of a powerful but common opponent. Common to all.

Their seclusion was due to a human enemy, more lethal therefore, driven by megalomaniacal instincts and deeply xenophobic, sickly traits.

Our virus does not discriminate color, race, creed or social background.

Theirs did.

For us, staying at home can be boring, but it does not force us to hear bombs exploding at dawn or impose almost inhuman sacrifices on us. Our fear is a different fear, of expectation but with tremendous hope that everything will pass. Theirs was not like that.

We have electricity, water, gas, television, internet, mobile phones and computers. We have games, toys and pets. We have the company of those we love, we move around the house as we want.
We have space, food, hygiene conditions, tranquility and freedom to create, invent and produce. Freedom to rest, socialize or simply be. We even have the ability to work and produce.

We are freer between four walls than outside.
This seclusion is not good, it is neither pleasant nor desired, but it is neither hell nor tragedy. Hell is living like Anne Frank did.

Tragedy is dying as she died.
Stay at home.
We will be back soon.

Duarte Gomes