Diary of Anne Frank The Diary of Anne Frank is an account of thirteen year old Anne Frank’s experience in hiding with her family during Nazi Germany. Anne Frank’s diary is viewed as an important primary account of the Holocaust and Nazi Germany, which is highlighted by the prophetic statement in her journal that “I want to go on living after my death. And therefore I am grateful to God for giving me this gift…Of expressing all that is in me1”. In 1942, Anne, her parents and sister and four other people went into hiding in sealed off back rooms of an Amsterdam office building during the Nazi persecution of Jews in Europe.
Anne and her family were safe for two years until their betrayal in 1944 and sadly, Anne died in a concentration camp in Belsen and the only survivor from her family was her father. Anne’s diary was found by accident by Miep Gies who had helped in hiding the Frank family. He gave the diary to Anne’s father, who was then persuaded to publish the diary to disclose to the world the tough reality facing Jewish families under Nazi persecution.
Whilst the terrible atrocities of the holocaust have been well documented, the unique feature of Anne’s diary is the first hand account of real life as a Jew living in hiding. Anne’s writing is at times poetic and records the strains of her unusually circumstances and predicament, while simultaneously unveiling her personal feelings and growing pains as a result of developing womanhood. As such, the language used by Anne in the diary brings her to life as a young woman with issues that other women can relate to and it is precisely the juxtaposition of this normality with the reality of her predicament that makes the diary so moving and effective.
For example, on the one hand Anne writes to her fictional friend Kitty and in her entry on 19th November 1942 she writes: “Dussel is a very nice man, just as we had all imagined. Of course he thought it was all right to share my little room. Quite honestly, I’m not so keen that stranger should use my things, but one must be prepared to make some sacrifices2”.
The irony of this diary entry is that if the statement was read by itself it could be the statement of any teenager, only it wasn’t any teenager which makes the reference to “sacrifice” all the more moving as Anne’s essential liberties have been sacrificed. In contrast to the normality of the above entry, Anne’s sadness and awareness of her situation continues to inform the diary entries, when she states that “I feel frightened when I think of close friends who have now been delivered into the hands of the cruellest brutes that walk the earth.
All because they are Jews! 3” Another distinctive element of the diary is throughout all the pain, Anne remains positive and witty. She is a prolific reader and through her journal we see how throughout all the adversity, hope is her natural instinct, which she clings onto even when she writes “I feel the suffering of millions”. It is this very hope through the first person narrative that engages directly with the reader and in turn this makes the discourse even more tragic as before reading the book we already know how the story ends.
However, even though the reader knows the story of Anne Frank, it doesn’t make the diary entries any less compelling. Through her lucidity, we are taken through her highs and lows even when she starts to feel that she is going to die. Irrespective of her inner fears, her stoic ambition propels her to cling on to hope and show an almost defiant courage, when at the age of fifteen she writes “I feel that I am a woman, a woman who has both moral energy and courage4”.
To this end, even though the story recounts events in Anne’s life as they happen, one cannot help but get the sense that Anne is aware of her eventual outcome. As such, her courage and unwavering ambition provides a positive example of the triumph of human spirit and strength in the face of adversity. Accordingly, not only does the Diary of Anne Frank provide an important historical source relating to the holocaust; it also serves as an important story of human courage in the face of impossible circumstances.
Through the diary, as a reader we go through Anne’s development into young womanhood and experience her patience, energy and tears. Through all this pain that Anne suffers, by the end she remains smiling and defiant with her claim that she wants to live after death5. Furthermore, Anne’s last diary entry is almost prophetic and highlights her continued ambition and indomitable spirit as she writes that “I twist my hear round again… and keep on trying to find a way of becoming what I would like to be, and what I could be, if… there weren’t any other people living in the world”.
Therefore, whilst the ending is difficult to stomach, arguably, the fact that Anne’s strong spirit lives on through the diaries means that she was the ultimate victor over her captors at Belsen. References The Diary of Anne Frank, First Published in 1947, Pan Books.
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