Anne Frank, the young Jewish teenage girl who went into hiding from the Nazi’s in World War II, didn’t survive. She and her family were betrayed and ended up being the last deportees from the Netherlands to be sent to the concentration or death camps. Her story combines the innocence of youth with the horrors of war so vividly one is moved to tears and hopefully one will vow “never again.”
We follow Anne from her 13th birthday when she received the diary until she was forcefully removed from her hiding place, which she calls “The Secret Annex” because it was a part of her father’s office building that most people didn’t know existed. The diary ends when she’s 15 years old. Anne never makes it to her 16th birthday.
A diary is very personal and Anne doesn’t hold back anything. She discusses her problems with her mother and how she doesn’t feel close to her and only loves her because she is her mother. She talks about her dad, whom she affectionately calls “Pim”, whom she adores. Her sister, Margot. She discusses the other people they went into hiding with: The Van Daan’s and their son, Peter, and Mr. Dussel who joins them later.
We see Anne blooming into a teenager under extraordinary circumstances. She candidly talks about her fear of being discovered and what would happen. She talks about her hopes and dreams for the future. She talks about her first kiss with Peter and her first impulses of love. She talks about her helpers, the outsiders who keep them alive–the Dutch Christians who risk their lives by providing food and everything else they need.
Throughout it all, Anne never loses faith or hope and God stands prominently in her faith and hope. She says in the definitely edition on April 1, 1944: “God has not forsaken me, and He never will.”
Her greatest hope, like most of us is “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! And that’s why I’m so grateful to God for having given me this gift (she speaking about writing here), which I can use to develop myself and to express all that’s inside of me!”
I thought if she only knew then what she’d become. If she only knew then God’s plan for her that we all know. For in her short life, she has lived on. She has become a symbol of all that’s good in this world and a symbol for hope and a symbol for the end of wars. God used her short time on earth to impact the world that most of us never will. Her words humanize even the most cold-hearted.
In that same entry dated April 5th, 1944, Anne says, “When I write I can shake off all my cares. My sorrow disappears, my spirits are revived!…Will I ever be able to write something great?”
This expresses how most of us writers feel and most of our desires–to write something great. Anne did.
April 11th, 1944: “We’re Jews in chains…without any rights, but with a thousand obligations. We must put our feelings aside; we must be brave and strong, bear discomfort without complaint, do whatever is in our power and trust in God…The time will come when we’ll be people again and not just Jews!”
“Who has inflicted this on us? Who has set us apart from all the rest? Who has put us through such suffering? It’s God who has made us the way we are, but it’s also God who will lift us up again….maybe our religion will teach the world and all the people about goodness and that’s why…we have to suffer…God has never deserted our people. Through the ages Jews have had to suffer and the centuries of suffering has only made them stronger.”
When I was 15, I would have never had such wisdom. And put so eloquently. Her faith shines and I wonder if mine does.
July 15th, 1944, in one of Anne’s last entries, she says: “I still believe, in spite of everything, that people are truly good at heart.”
She was an extraordinary young woman, living out her life with courage and hope in the face of constant fear. Yet she knew God. She knew God would not abandon her. She had faith. She hoped she’d make it through. She didn’t. God had a purpose for her life that she could not see. But she trusted.
I wonder if she had lived would we be reading her diary or would it have had the impact it still does today. Probably not. The fact she was so close to making it is heart-wrenching. The fact the world stood by, knowing what the Nazi’s were doing is heart-breaking. It is a sad, sad period in human history brought to light by one little girl and her diary. The evil man himself is capable of is hard to digest because we all are capable of such evils.
I read this book as a teenager, and it had no impact like it does to me today. As a mother, I ache for her. As a former teenager, I see myself in her. Knowing her fate, gives one a whole new perspective. When she speaks of what she will do once she is set free, tears form because we know she never makes it.
My kids were engaged and felt similarly to me. They knew throughout her fate and yet while reading it hope and courage shine out and inspire to do better, be better, and know better.
This book should be required reading for everyone. Historical value alone it’s priceless. Human nature and perspective it’s fundamental. Hope and faith it’s a testament. For one scared little girl it’s her voice that was cut off all too soon. Riveting and powerful, the reader will see World War II in a different light–and never be the same afterwards. Highly recommended. Life-changing. Amazing testament to faith in trying times and how one lives when God is in control.