Anne Frank (1929-1945) was born to a German-Jewish family. Her father Otto Frank was in the Imperial German Army during the World War I and was promoted to the rank of lieutenant in 1915. He married Edith Hollander in 1925.
The ideology of Nazism was conceptualized by Adolf Hitler around that time. Henry Ford Sr. who was a supporter of Adolf Hitler’s Nazi regime, wrote in ‘The International Jew’ that Jews had humiliated the Germans. Native Germans started discriminating Jews who lived in Germany. Germany was defeated in the World War I, and with it began the years of chaos for the German people. It was a difficult time for the Frank family as they were Jews, so they shifted to Aachen, and then to Amsterdam in the Netherlands.
Anne Frank’s Diary
‘The Diary of a Young Girl’, is a well-known book based on the diary of Anne Frank. Her father Otto Frank gifted her a diary on her 13th birthday. She was totally different from her elder sister, Margot. Anne loved writing and reading; while Margot was reserved and interested in arithmetic.
In her diary, Anne described her life and also mentioned about her friends. Some of the characters in her diary were Joop’s friends Conny, Emmy, Kitty, and Marianne. When she heard about the Germans declaring war against the allied nations United States, England, and the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics, her stories about friends change to frustrations and horrors of the holocaust. Anne’s family along with four Jew families shifted to Secret Annexe in Amsterdam. It was the same office building, where her father used to work. They stayed there for 2½ years, till they were arrested and send to a Nazi camp in 1944. Here we find Anne’s thoughts reacting to the horrific conditions in the concentration camp.
Her diary was safely preserved by a Dutch woman, Miep Gies, who protected the Frank family from the Nazis. When the Frank family was caught by the Nazis, Miep Gies found several pieces of papers and notebooks laying in the dark room where Frank family had resided. She collected all the papers together and gave them to Anne’s father Otto Frank. Later on, in 1947, her father published the diary under the title ‘Het Achterhuis’. The book was translated into English by Barbara Mooyaart-Doubleday and published by Vallentine Mitchell & Co Ltd. in 1952. The English version of the book was named ‘Anne Frank – The Diary of a Young Girl’. Today, her biography is available in more than 67 languages.
Why did She Want to Write a Diary?
Anne was an extraordinary girl, who wanted to become a writer. In her diary, she wrote about her dreams, frustrations, fears, quarrels with her parents, and some interesting stories of her companions during their concealment. It was a distressing two years (1942-1944), which Anne acknowledged with a comment – “the world will learn good things because of Jewish suffering”.
“I haven’t written for a few days, because I wanted first of all to think about my diary. It’s an odd idea for someone like me to keep a diary; not only because I have never done so before, but because it seems to me that neither I – nor for that matter anyone else – will be interested in the unbosomings of a thirteen-year-old schoolgirl. Still, what does that matter? I want to write, but more than that, I want to bring out all kinds of things that lie buried deep in my heart.” (from ‘The Diary of a Young Girl’, 1952)
Three Synopses from the Diary
Though Anne’s original manuscript was written in three volumes, collected together by her father Otto Frank, Otto Frank rewrote her diary for first transcription. While the second and third versions were published later with some new editions. Thus, the present book is a transcription of her original diary available in English and other 67 languages. The diary has an epilogue written by her family explaining their fate in the holocaust.
Sunday, June 14, 1942 to Friday, July 23, 1943
Anne began writing her diary when her family went into hiding; she noted the things she packed, while shifting to the Secret Annexe. She collected her hair curlers, handkerchiefs, old letters, a comb, and school books. She mentioned that these things were more valuable to her than her love for dresses. She wrote about how painful it was to be confined in the Secret Annexe: they were scared to go outdoors, restricted themselves to the dark room and communicated with one another in whispers.
Monday, July 26, 1943 to Sunday, March 19, 1944
Many of the Jews were died by the disease Gastroenteritis and their bodies were sent back to Westerbork camp. Few of the Jews who were arrested by Hitler’s troops, were treated like criminals and sent to labor camps; while some of them were killed in gas chambers. Anne and Margot too, were arrested by the Nazis and made slaves to do labor work.
Monday, March 20, 1944
On 6th June, 1944, the Allied army entered Normandy, France, and soon after, World War II was over with Hitler’s suicide. That time Anne was alone, she was very weak and fearful of leading a life without her parents. She died of typhus, seven months after her arrest, at the Bergen-Belsen concentration camp.
Quotes by Anne Frank
“Whoever is happy will make others happy too.”
“How wonderful it is that nobody need wait a single moment before starting to improve the world.”
“No one has ever become poor by giving.”
“Where there’s hope, there’s life. It fills us with fresh courage and makes us strong again.”
“Think of all the beauty still left around you and be happy.”
“Although I’m only fourteen, I know quite well what I want, I know who is right and who is wrong. I have my opinions, my own ideas and principles, and although it may sound pretty mad from an adolescent, I feel more of a person than a child, I feel quite independent of anyone.”
“Parents can only give good advice or put them on the right paths, but the final forming of a person’s character lies in their own hands.”
“Laziness may appear attractive, but work gives satisfaction.”
“Who would ever think that so much went on in the soul of a young girl?”
Thus, Anne’s diary is a reminder of the endurance of the human spirit through the horrors of holocaust. There are still some queries that need to be addressed: Why did Adolf Hitler call his autobiography – Mein Kampf (My Struggle)? Why did history agree to the annihilation of the Jewish race? How much do both the autobiographies (‘Mein Kampf’ and ‘The Diary of a Young Girl’) stand in contrast and what are the reasons behind their world-wide popularity?