Anne Frank’s diaries have always been among the most moving and eloquent documents of the Holocaust. This new edition restores diary entries omitted from the original edition, revealing a new depth to Anne’s dreams, irritations, hardships, and passions. Anne emerges as more real, more human, and more vital than ever. If you’ve never read this remarkable autobiography, do so. If you have read it, you owe it to yourself to read it again.
Annelies Marie “Anne” Frank was a German-born Jewish girl from the city of Frankfurt, who wrote a diary while in hiding with her family and four friends in Amsterdam during the German occupation of the Netherlands in World War II.
She lived in Amsterdam with her parents and sister. During the Holocaust, Anne and her family hid in the attic of her father’s office to escape the Nazis. It was during that time period that she had recorded her life in her diary.
My first impressions of the diary. It surprised me. Anne Frank’s strength of personality, humour, and compassion, are deeply engrained into her moving words in The Diary of A Young Girl. In many ways she is a typical teenager discovering who she is. I was saddened by her poor relationship with her mother. She experiences so many emotions and irritations, magnified in intensity due to the close nature, and length of time spent together hiding in the Annexe in Amsterdam. These petty quarrels become even more evident as time progresses. It is hard to imagine how it would be possible to have even fleeting moments of happiness after being shut away from the world for such a long period of time, under such difficult and dangerous circumstances, but Anne manages to do this and so much more besides. The enforced captivity of the Annexe allows her time to reflect on her shortcomings and she becomes more and more aware of her own faults and self limitations. Locked away in this alien environment, she grows up and her diary grows and blossoms with her.
There is a mounting sense of her frustrations, her fears for the future, guilt at hiding away, and above all else her deep passion for life. Her love of nature, writing and books comes across so vividly. In photographs Anne looks fragile, yet I think this young lady was anything but, from her words alone I get a sense of her strength of character. I was amused by her developing relationship with Peter, who is several years older than her. In effect she bypasses her older sister Margo and manages to steal Peter’s affections right from under Margo’s nose. Feisty indeed! Sadly Anne died just before the liberation, as did all of the other Annexe hideaways apart from Otto, her father. Her diary is so poignant because of the terrible, inevitable outcome. In light of this I found some of the passages in the diary very difficult to read, yet I kept on returning to her diary as I sensed that I would be doing Anne’s memory a terrible disservice if I didn’t read it all. I found the final few words of the diary very sad indeed, her words became lighter, little glimmers of hope that sadly did not match the reality of her final days.
I shed some tears, wept for this promising teenager whose life was cut short in such a cruel way, robbed of her chance to live a full and enriching life. I can’t help but feel that Anne Frank would have had such a promising future if she had lived. I have no doubt that she would have become a writer. Moreover, some of the passages in the diary reminded me of my teenage self. I too kept a diary, but my diary was free to roam whereas Anne’s was constrained by her circumstances. I was so lucky, so blessed. In my diary I wrote about so many things that poor Anne never had the opportunity to see or experience. My father worked abroad and I kept a diary of our travels visiting him in diverse regions of the world, the Caribbean British Virgin Islands, Fiji, and Papua New Guinea, are a few that spring to mind. I don’t know what became of my diary, (I was the same age as Anne), it may be up in my parents’ house in Edinburgh. I hope one day I will find it. I feel so careless to have lost it. My teenage diary was a feeble affair in comparison to Anne’s. It makes me wonder whether we write best when we are challenged, when life isn’t easy. Do we need to experience suffering to write? It is an interesting question. I sense that we do to some extent, but not in the way that Anne did. Nobody should have to suffer like that.
Each of us should have a fundamental human right. A right to freedom, the right of every human being to live without fear of being judged or hated for the colour of their skin, their religion, their cultural heritage, or sexual orientation. A diary should be a personal affair, not read, and discussed by a stranger. But in Anne’s case I am sure that her father Otto did the right thing in making Anne’s words available to all. I feel sure that Anne would be happy to know that her diary is being read, that a little piece of her lives on, albeit an edited version of her true words. She longed to be a writer and in this she has succeeded. Her words are without doubt a snap shot in time, a representation of all the hopes and fears of all of those who suffered and died in the Holocaust.
Calling all 13-15 year olds. Why Should You Read Anne Franks Diary now?
The Anne Frank Trust are on a mission to create the world’s biggest ever digital diary aimed at giving 13-15 year olds a voice. Please visit the Digital Diary website. My lovely friend Val Ross works for the UK branch of the Anne Frank Trust and only recently I was fortunate enough to listen to her very moving talk.
So if there are any 13-15 year olds reading this, please read Anne Frank’s Diary, join in the Generation Diary, spare a moment to look back into history and to reach forward into the future when hopefully mankind can join together in a shared purpose to celebrate all that life has to offer and to embrace diversity rather than be frightened by it.