Holland, 1945

Album: In The Aeroplane Over The Sea (1998)
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Songfacts®:

  • This song was written by the lead singer, Jeff Mangum. Like most songs on the album it is about the story of Anne Frank, who was a young girl living in the German-occupied Netherlands during World War II. While hiding from the Nazis, she kept a diary that has since become a classic piece of literature. >>
    Suggestion credit:
    Derek - Chandler, AZ
  • Shortly before recording the band's 1996 debut album, On Avery Island, Mangum read The Diary of Anne Frank for the first time and became consumed by the tragic story. "I'd never given it any thought before. Then I spent two days reading it and completely flipped out... spent about three days crying... It stuck with me for a long, long time," he told Puncture Magazine in 1998. "I'm not sure I could allow myself to connect with a book that much. While I was reading the book, she was completely alive to me. I pretty much knew what was going to happen. But that's the thing: you love people because you know their story. You have sympathy for people even when they do stupid things because you know where they're coming from, you understand where they're at in their head. So here I am as deep as you can go in someone's head, in some ways deeper than you can go with someone you know in the flesh. And then at the end, she gets disposed of like a piece of trash. I would go to bed every night and have dreams about having a time machine, having the ability to move through time and space freely, and save Anne Frank. Do you think that's embarrassing?"
  • This played during the end credits of the final episode of Stephen Colbert's satirical news program The Colbert Report in 2014. According to New York Times columnist Maureen Dowd, Colbert chose the song in honor of his father and two of his brothers, who died in a plane crash in 1974. Dowd wrote in her tribute to the host: "He said he loved the 'strange, sad poetry' of a song called 'Holland 1945' by an indie band from Athens, Georgia, called Neutral Milk Hotel and sent me the lyrics, which included this heartbreaking bit:

    But now we must pick up every piece
    Of the life we used to love
    Just to keep ourselves
    At least enough to carry on
    And here is the room where your brothers were born
    Indentations in the sheets
    Where their bodies once moved but don't move anymore
    "

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