Anne Frank: How the Diary of a Young Girl impacted the world
Ink drawing on a map of Amsterdam, Netherlands. The rooms where Anne Frank and her family and the others spent 25 months hiding from the Nazis are now a museum and it is located to the left of her eyes.
Born in 1929 in Germany, Anne Frank and her family moved to the Netherlands when she was four years old to get away from the increasing anti-Semitic persecution under the Nazis. It was not far enough: on May 10, 1940, Hitler’s armies invaded the Netherlands and Belgium on their way to France, bringing their hatred with them.
So, on Monday morning, July 6, 1942, 13-year-old Anne Frank, her parents, and sister secretly moved out of their Amsterdam apartment and into a set of hidden rooms in the annex of her father’s company’s offices. Four other Jews later joined them in this space and a bookcase was placed in front of the door to hide it. With the aid of a few trusted colleagues, the eight of them stayed hidden from the Nazis for 25 months.
Eventually, they were betrayed and on August 4, 1944, the Nazis raided the secret annex. Anne and her companions were all shipped off to concentration camps.
The family’s hiding place was cramped and uncomfortable and the secret residents had to stay very quiet to avoid detection. With little else to do in their attic rooms, Frank passed the time writing in a diary she had received as a birthday gift shortly before they went into hiding. Written as a series of letters to Kitty, an imaginary friend she confided to, Anne documented the events in hiding as well as her thoughts and feelings. It was a therapeutic practice for her, and in one letter to Kitty, Anne wrote, “I can shake off everything as I write; my sorrows disappear, my courage is reborn.”
The diary was more than just a creative outlet for the young Anne. it was a place to let her mind run free—in sharp contrast to her physical realities in hiding.
She would reflect on the beauty of the world, noting to kitty, that “I don't think about all the misery, but about the beauty that still remains. Think of all the beauty still around you and be happy.” And, “How wonderful it is that nobody need wait a single moment before starting to improve the world.”
Not one to be held back by her youth, Anne also wrote, “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.”
Born: June 12, 1929, Frankfurt, Germany
Died: February 1945, Bergen-Belsen Concentration Camp, Germany
What began as a way to pass the time became a dream of a published book. All told, Frank wrote around 50,000 words longhand in her diary. She didn’t finish the manuscript before her murder. The last letter to Kitty was dated three days before her arrest.
After the Allies liberated Auschwitz, Anne’s father, Otto, returned to Holland to find he was the sole survivor from the eight who had hidden together. He was gifted with Anne’s writings by one of the people who had helped support the family in hiding and had found the papers after the raid.
Otto found Anne’s account deeply moving and decided to fulfill his daughter’s ambition by publishing the diary as a book in 1947. He hoped it would educate readers on the dangers of prejudice and discrimination towards others.
For 25 months, Anne preached love, courage, and hope in the face of evil hatred and oppression. In the decades since, the book has proven her words true that, “In the long run, the sharpest weapon of all is a kind and gentle spirit.” She’s influenced generations of readers, including South African leader Nelson Mandela, who cited Anne as an inspiration during apartheid imprisonment. Today, her diary has been translated into more than 70 languages and sold more than 30 million copies worldwide.
The diary’s enduring impact is summed up in these words Anne wrote after living in hiding for more than two years: “It’s a wonder I haven’t abandoned all my ideals, they seem so absurd and impractical. Yet I cling to them because I still believe, in spite of everything, that people are truly good at heart.”
The Nazi’s arrested Anne and her family three weeks later.
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