“Although I’m only fourteen, I know quite well what I want, I know who is right and who is wrong.”
Hitler’s obsession with having a “pure” race lead to an unspeakable period of barbaric and brutal war against the Jews and other million others targeted for racial, ideological and political reasons. When he became Chancellor in 1933, he did not waste time in starting his anti-Jewish operation.
There was mass transportation to concentration camps where imprisonment, mass gassing, death from starvation and diseases, and other merciless crimes against humanity took place.
The years from 1942 to 1945 were a time when Jews from all over Europe were sent to these concentration camps and it is during these years that Anne Frank put down pen to paper to pour down her account of the time she spent in hiding with her family, another family of three and a friend.
Anne’s diary entries begin in June 1942, on her 13th birthday, about a month before they go into hiding. In July they go into hiding in a building where his father’s office is and here begins their two-year hiding.
Anne records the atmosphere in their dwelling, describing the environment itself, the food, the daily activities that are mostly reading and writing, and the rows that take place among them.
Below them, on the ground floor is a warehouse that is used during the day, and at that time they have to stay as quiet as possible to avoid getting caught. As grim and tragic as their circumstances are, Anne expresses hope and a positive outlook on life.
“I’ve found that there is always some beauty left — in nature, sunshine, freedom, in yourself; these can all help you.”
There are times when she writes about her pain, depression, crying herself to sleep but her writing still bursts with impressive wisdom, maturity, introspection, intelligence and wit.
Her diary shows her depth of feeling, things she doesn’t share with anyone else but feels so strongly about. Her opinions are strong and she has an independent mind, as well as a clear direction that she wishes to take after the war.
“I don’t want to have lived in vain like most people. I want to be useful or bring enjoyment to all people, even those I’ve never met. I want to go on living even after my death!”
There are many things to enjoy about this diary, especially Anne’s belief in freedom, despite the confines she and her family are in where freedom has been taken away from them.
She expresses a belief – freedom for people to live in peace and freedom of self. In the midst of fear of being discovered and taken away, she still shows courage and cheerfulness.
Her thirst for learning is unquenchable. She finds comfort in reading, learning and writing. In the depth of a miserable situation where the future is unpredictable and she has no idea about the other side of the war, she still commits to absorbing knowledge and creating.
“I can shake off everything as I write; my sorrows disappear, my courage is reborn.”
I enjoyed The Diary of a Young Girl because of how it can shift one’s perspective on their own suffering and worries. It’s inspiring and informative in the way that it takes you into her contemplation of the war. It’s also a good read for people who are interested in history and war.
The last diary entry is on 1 August 1944 and shortly after an informer tells on the family. Their place is raided and they’re taken away. Anne died in 1945. Only her father survived and when he returned after the war, he found the diary kept by his office workers. Anne had wanted to become a writer and to publish the diary, and her father published it in her memory.