“The Diary of a Young Girl” by Anne Frank is on my list of 50 books to read before I die and will also count on my 2015 reading challenge as a book from my childhood as I first read it when I was a kid.
I’m sure most of you will know the story of Anne Frank and her family. Anne was a 13 year old Jewish girl, living with her parents and her older sister, Margot, in Amsterdam during World War II. On 6th July 1942, Anne and her family went into hiding at 263 Prinsengracht, soon followed by the van Daan family and later by Albert Dussel. On 4th August 1944, the property is raided following an anonymous phone call to the Security Police. All the inhabitants of the annexe are taken to concentration camps, Otto Frank is the only one to survive. The identity of the person who gave the anonymous tip has never been discovered. The 2 men, Victor Kugler and Johannes Kleiman, who had been helping them stay hidden are also arrested and questioned. Miep Gies and Bep Voskuijl are left behind and manage to rescue Anne’s diary from the annexe and keep it safe until Otto Frank returns.
Anne’s diary starts before the family have gone into hiding and we see a brief glimpse of the struggle faced by Jewish people having to live within the strict laws imposed by Hitler. After the family have gone into hiding we are then given a very personal insight into what life was like for Jews in hiding and the people who help them.
Anne comes across as an extremely self-aware young woman. I don’t remember being anywhere near as confident as she is when I was 13. Every time I read her diary and read her aspirations for the future I am saddened that her life was so unfairly ended at such a young age. I can’t imagine how proud she would be to see the reception her diary got and how many people all over the world have used her account to better understand the plight of the Jews during that awful time.
Although I may complain about things that happen in my life, overall I am extremely fortunate and reading Anne’s story always reminds me just how fortunate I am. I cannot imagine being trapped in a secret area of a building 24 hours a day for 2 years like Anne was; constantly fearful of discovery and unable to do any of the things a normal girl her age could do. It’s no wonder Anne feels she matured very quickly during her time in hiding, she had responsibilities that no young girl should ever have. She knew if she made too much noise at the wrong time of day they could be discovered and that the lives of the other 7 people in hiding, as well as their friends on the outside who were helping them stay hidden, relied on her following the rules to the absolute letter.
I think the writing itself is very good, I know a lot of work has been done in translating the diary but her writing is very descriptive and she manages to paint an extremely clear picture of her time in the “Secret Annexe” and what life was like for her and the others.
I often find myself wondering what Anne would be like if she’d survived and was alive today. What would she think of how the world has changed since the war? Would she have made it as a journalist like she wanted? Would she have changed her diary in any way prior to publication? I don’t think she could ever have foreseen how important her diary would become.