To date, Anne Frank: The Diary of a Young Girl, has sold over 30 million copies in 67 languages and is believed to be one of the most widely read books. Anne Frank’s diary gives readers an intimate look into what life was like for a young Jewish girl at the peak of the Nazi reign of terror. Heart-wrenching and inspiring, Frank’s diary should be required reading for everyone.
Many of us are familiar with the story of Anne Frank. The Nazis were on a crusade against Jewish people, and they didn’t intend to stop in Germany. In 1940, they invaded Poland and the Netherlands, where Anne and her family lived. By 1942, the persecution was so great, Anne’s parents feared for their family, and they went into hiding. Anne was only 13 years old.
Anne and her family lived in a secret attic space for two years, moving minimally and trying to be as silent as possible. To pass the time, Anne wrote in a small, red-checkered journal. On August 1, 1944, Anne wrote the last entry in her journal. The entry speaks of an internal struggle common to many teenagers: deciding who one wants to be and who they could be. Anne writes:
As I’ve told you many times, I’m split in two. One side contains my exuberant cheerfulness, my flippancy, my joy in life and, above all, my ability to appreciate the lighter side of things. By that I mean not finding anything wrong with flirtations, a kiss, an embrace, an off-colour joke. This side of me is usually lying in wait to ambush the other one, which is much purer, deeper and finer.
. . . As I’ve told you, what I say is not what I feel, which is why I have a reputation for being boy-crazy as well as a flirt, a smart aleck and a reader of romances. The happy-go-lucky Anne laughs, gives a flippant reply, shrugs her shoulders and pretends she doesn’t give a darn. The quiet Anne reacts in just the opposite way. If I’m being completely honest, I’ll have to admit that it does matter to me, that I’m trying very hard to change myself, but that I’m always up against a more powerful enemy.
. . . I just can’t keep it up anymore, because when everybody starts hovering over me, I get cross, then sad, and finally end up turning my hear inside out, the bad part on the outside and the good part on the inside, and keep trying to find a way to become what I’d like to be and what I could be if… if only there were no other people in the world.
Three days later, Anne’s family was discovered, arrested, and sent to concentration camps. Anne and her sister Margot were sent to Bergen-Belsen. Months later, both sisters died from typhus. Anne’s father, Otto, was the only member of the family to survive. He was the one who found, edited, and published the contents of his daughter’s diary. Thanks to Anne’s courage and her father’s determination, generations of people around the world have access to Anne’s words and the opportunity to reflect on how to prevent such an atrocity from happening again.
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